16 June 2011

Why do our politicians bother to speak when a press release will do the job?

A few days ago, I had a go at answering the question of why British political oratory has been banished to the sidelines (HERE) - on which, here are a couple of observations and another question.

The script of yesterday's annual Mansion House speech by the Chancellor of the Exchequer had been trailed, blogged about, tweeted about and discussed and analysed on radio and television news programmes for at least 24 hours before Mr Osborne got up to speak last night.

ITN's News at Ten showed film of the banquet and of the Chancellor opening and closing his mouth while standing at a lectern - as a silent background to a report about what he was saying. The number of words ITN allowed us to hear him actually saying came to a grand total of 0.

Today, the same is happening to the 'first major policy speech since becoming shadow chancellor earlier this year' by Ed Balls (BBC website) - and it's unlikely that we'll get to hear much more coming out of his mouth on prime-time television news programmes tonight than than we did from George Osborne's last night.

If all the media need to cover a speech is a press release of the script, why don't our politicians save a bit of time, money and effort by not bothering to make the speech at all?

The television companies could then also save a bit of time, money and effort by not bothering to send out camera crews to film background footage for their journalists' reports on the speeches. After all, cutting away to the other side of the studio for a PowerPoint-style presentation from one of their reporters is not only much cheaper than going on location, but has also become standard practice on the main news channels, for more on which, see:

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