Even hiding away on your sofa, you couldn’t have missed it. For the second time in a few weeks, the UK is largely blanketed in SNOW! For anyone outside our isles, you must understand that such significant and sustained snowfall is a rare enough occurrence for us to get very, very, excited (not to mention our general propensity to obsess with the weather for the remainder of the year).
I do love the snow, and how its arrival condones the breaking of various conventions that restrict our social interactions in its absence. It’s ok to get into snowball fights with strangers – or at the very least initiate conversations about doing so; you can do the same online and revel in snowiness with others country-wide; and if you’re lucky enough to not work in the emergency services or have kids, you might even be able to take the day off work and relax.
Now, I shouldn’t be surprised, but the news coverage – both local and national – has been nothing short of laughable. At least the first ten minutes are dedicated to seemingly endless, indistinguishable and generic SNOW!-related stories, burying far less important issues, such as some people getting into a scuffle, or yet another minor spark on a building site in East London (third in six months, but hey, who’s counting when there’s SNOW!).
I’ve noticed a couple of trends, and far be it from me to criticise or satirise news reporting, but after muttering testily that “I could write these news reports in my sleep” I was challenged to do so by my father. Instead here is a six-step guide, outlining what I perceive to be the key elements:.
How to put together a SNOW! News Report
1) A Thesaurus
Your viewers are gonna get tired of hearing the S-word over and over again, so if you can litter your piece with pseudo-scientific terms such as “blizzard conditions” and “Arctic front”, it becomes that much more sensationalist fascinating.
2) An A-Z Atlas
Secondly, you must have a list of UK place names that are sufficiently recognisable as being geographically distinct:
“In the Scottish Borders it was -18C and there was 4 feet of SNOW! In Manchester the SNOW! meant that people’s commutes were disrupted. In Yorkshire children made SNOWmen! In Nottingham the buses were slow! In Norfolk it looked white! In London some people even stayed at home!
This may or may not be accompanied by reporters from each of the listed locations throughout the day, who stand in front of a suitably white-ish backdrop and bemoan the local situation over and over again.
3) A Montage of ‘Travel Chaos’
This does not need to indicate exactly where the footage was taken (making conveniently interchangeable snippets than can be stored away in a library for future use), but for some exciting variety, the camera shots can be taken from ground level, showing wheels. Spinning wheels are good.
4) A Totally Comprehensive List of Transport Methods
The correspondent must deliver a lengthy list of motorway routes and train services that have been disrupted. This is despite the idiocy of listing homewardbound evening commuter train services when people are NOT at home and NOT watching TV. Most importantly, it means that the rest of us can truly understand Just How Apocalyptic SNOW! is for other people somewhere else. Don’t forget to include how difficult it is for tractors.
These invariable emerge in two very useful forms:
- Local people, whose relatively calm views you can chose to directly ignore. On BBC London, their only opinion interviews in the SNOW! Disaster piece were two commuters describing their respective journeys home as “it’s inconvenient but no big disaster” and “it was alright, I’m afraid”. The correspondents skilfully outmanoeuvred these deniers’ incongruous voxpops by, well, sticking them in anyway.
- Authority figures adamantly declaring they have a bigger pile of grit than their neighbours.
A montage of photos emailed in by viewers. It is absolutely compulsory that this must contain at least one of each of the following:
- Slow-moving/stationary traffic
- Some variety of snowman (can broaden include snow-women or snow-animals)
- Deer/birds/livestock trundling along as usual
- A generic rural landscape, or notable landmark in white
There you have it. I clearly have a career in television news production. And finally for good measure…Charlie Brooker doing an altogether better job: