US primaries anything but a yawn

Bleary eyed and listening to the howling gales outside Milne Towers this morning, I finally called it a night around 5am.

An hour’s sleep would be better than none, I decided.

Not that I’m an insomniac or anything.

No.

Just strangely addicted to the American Primaries, or specifically, the battle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

All through the night and into the wee small hours I channel hopped looking for the most up-to-date ticker numbers as Hillary kept a steady if surprising (if you believe the polls) lead right through to her winning New Hampshire echoing her husband’s ‘Comeback Kid’ performance from years of yore.

But it wasn’t just the closeness of the vote that was intriguing.

It was how the various TV channels covered the unfolding political drama which will be with us all year long.

I’d expected great things of Sky News which has, after all, forged a formidable reputation for breaking news.

And with its American business interests, I’d hoped it would slake the thirst for information.

Instead, I thought it was found sadly wanting.

Not just lacking in content and analysis, but, well, lazy.

And at 3am with a UK ticker-tape of UK news running, did they really have to break for updates of ‘all the news’ in Britain when little had changed at all?

In the end I switched to BBC 24 and found it to be both engaging and entertaining.

It had some spark in its presentation, life in its reporting and analysis, combining other US news with UK news along the bottom of the screen for whoever wasn’t tuned in at such a ridiculous hour for the main show in town.

Yup, in my opinion, Auntie for once gave Sky a good old spanking.

And I’d argue that it was more enjoyable too than American’s own Fox News, the US cousin of Sky.

To be fair, Fox was a good quality production and I’d suggest aimed at a specific audience. So a direct comparison is perhaps unfair.

At least for the kind of information I was after.

For me, though, the winner on the night was CNN.

Chatty without being ill-informed, minute by minute information clearly set out in charts and tables, and good divided opinion from the panel of experts all well marshaled by Wolf Blitzer.

Broadcasters in the UK would do well to pay attention, even if they can only dream about the kind of interest shown by people in the States.

And kudos also to the Associated Press who were first to call the vote in favour of Clinton and saw their report carried across all networks, showing where great contacts and experience really count.



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