Silent speeches by party leaders: the wallpaper of television news coverage

Last night's Newsnight on BBC2 featured a couple of spectacular illustrations of one of my repeated complaints about the way media coverage of politics in the UK has been going for at least a decade.

After one of the US presidential elections, I wrote on Mediated speeches: whom do we really want to hear?

I began the new year with a post asking the question Will the 2010 UK general election be the first one to leave us speechless?

At the start of the election, I posted a video clip under the heading Blair speaks and the BBC tells you what he said.

All three made the point that British television news programmes have increasingly given up on allowing viewers see and hear politicians making speeches - unless, of course they're staged events in their own studios, like the three leaders' debates - and prefer to have their reporters telling us what the speakers are saying.

Oratorical wallpaper

This reached a high (or low?) point on Newsnight last night, when Nick Clegg and David Cameron were shown making speeches in total and complete silence.

Not only that, but the commentary from political editor Michael Crick didn't even give us any hints about what either of the party leaders had actually been saying in their speeches, concentrating in stead on a preview of tonight's leaders' debate.

So far, it's the most extreme example of speeches being treated as wallpaper that I've seen - and I'd be interested to hear from anyone who spots any similar examples between now and polling day.

I'd be even more interested to hear if anyone has actually seen or heard any news programmes featuring any excerpts from any proper speeches since the campaign began.

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