A Weblog monitoring coverage of environmental issues and science in the UK media. By Professor Emeritus Philip Stott. The aim is to assess whether a subject is being fairly covered by press, radio, and television. Above all, the Weblog will focus on science, but not just on poor science. It will also bring to public notice good science that is being ignored because it may be politically inconvenient.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Television: the ultimate waste of time.....

I really do enjoy radio work - proper discussions with interesting people, good feedback, and it doesn't matter how scruffy you look. More importantly, radio is quick and efficient, with a real pay-off for your time and effort.

By contrast, whenever I am approached to do pre-recorded television, I groan. It is such a waste of time! Yesterday evening, you may have seen a glimpse of me on ITN's 'Tonight' programme (8.00 pm) lecturing the world, as ever, about (of course) the daftness of 'global warming' - this time from an uncomfortable wooden groyne at the lovely seaside town of Whitstable. This 1-minute slot took no less than 6 hours to arrange and film!

First, a team of three (all jolly nice, let me add) - cameraman, soundman, and interviewer - had to come out to Kent, to pick me up, and to cart me off to Whitstable (at least, I mused, there was a chance of some of the best oysters in Britain). They then took over an hour to find the right location (it all looked the same to me - sand, sea and seagulls). Unfortunately, the first somewhat ambitious attempt was thwarted by a rather swift incoming tide which would have had the soundman up to his knees in no time. Following a hasty (a relative word with all that valuable equipment) retreat up the beach, we then did a long, long interview, with many, many questions. Unfortunately, a small plane would circle overhead ('Welcome to Whitstable') and we had to keep breaking off until it flew off again. It was also fun trying to make sense and sound against the breaking waves and the roaring wind! The chosen groyne was, moreover, a tad thin for the groin! At last, however, it was done ("Oh, no! Just one more question?"), but now they wanted shots of me strolling thoughtfully, first across the shingle beach (6 times!), then down to the water's edge (7 times - in a banana arc!), then of my shoes being lapped by the tide (2 times!), and then 7 shots of me gazing out to the grey sea in pensive mode! At last, I was released to go and get a pint while they continued to take yet more shots of the fine bay of Whitstable. We then drove back home - and no oysters to boot - the shop was closed!

There was a lot of grit, I can assure you, in that little pearl at 8.00 pm. And then I found myself part of a totally one-sided programme that did balanced science no favours at all. Dr. Anne was not amused! And why Whitstable? I suppose the seaside vaguely linked to Boscastle and the mighty elements!

But the cost in time and effort?

Philip (aka Niles Crane), "I could happily live without tele, but not the good old steam radio!"

[New counter, June 19, 2006, with loss of some data]

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