More listener whines

North Korea is testing nukes. Tensions and mutual provocation between China and a remilitarizing Japan over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands are getting worse. Egypt and Syria could implode at any time. So could Spain and Greece in their own ways. The US Federal and state governments owe US$20 trillion and rising. In Hong Kong, where a flood of inbound tourists is driving local people up into the hills and onto outlying islands in search of space, the Chief Executive has been officially declared ‘depressing’. And what’s the leading news story today? A guy in 50-murders-a-day South Africa shoots someone.

I am obviously missing something. Why are we – who are unknown to the people involved or their families – supposed to want to know about this Pistorius character? Why are we supposed to be interested that the (to me) hitherto unheard-of victim, one Ms Steenkamp, was either tragically cursed with the appearance of a publicity-seeking bimbo, or in reality had a wonderful personality? Where is the news story here? The alleged killer is a sports star; sports stars tend to be dim and make bad decisions; this one kept guns in the house; occupants of armed households are statistically more likely to be shot at home. Where, to repeat, is the news story?

RTHK Radio 3’s morning show has an unmistakable tendency on occasion to poor news sense, pushing a non-story into the top position and going on and on, minute after laborious minute, into greater and greater detail about it. Today’s treatment of this ‘Bladerunner’ Pistorius banality was no exception. It was followed by similarly lengthy coverage of the UK’s horsemeat-for-beef trauma, which is at least vaguely amusing. Horse is not merely edible: it is wasted on the sort of people who eat processed packaged lasagnas.

Then RTHK turned to Warren Buffet and pals buying Heinz. A report that could have been more enlightening had a discussion of how ketchup is originally Chinese not intruded. (Ketchup, of course, is not Chinese – tomato is a New World species, and East Asian cuisine doesn’t get that low. The word comes from Malay and means what most of us call ‘nam pla’, or simply ‘fish sauce’, and seems to have come from Hokkien. Tons here and here.)

There’s a clear pattern here. In fairness to my friends at RTHK, it isn’t always this way. But occasionally, the programme’s usual producer is away and a guy called Phil Space steps in. His aim is to pad the show out with clips on far-away events cut-and-pasted from the BBC World Service or whatever, with priority given to bulk rather than newsworthiness or relevance to Hong Kong. Thus we get lengthy tearful tributes to Ms Steenkamp’s vivacious wit, weird dollops of ketchup all over the business news, and the interminable American sports correspondent gushing however much inanity it takes to complete that 30-minute cycle as effortlessly as possible.

I’m sure it’s the result of under-funding of a low-priority, English-language station. I’m sure that during the 23 hours a day I don’t listen, Radio 3 is perfect. And I’m sure I’ll feel absolutely rotten when they email me in that slightly defensive tone of the under-appreciated public-service provider. And, as we languorously declare the weekend open, we must note that it’s a slow day today.

OK, so the guy had no legs – why are we supposed to give a damn?

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18 Responses to More listener whines

  1. Listen...er... says:

    “RTHK Radio 3’s morning show has an unmistakable tendency on occasion to poor news sense…”

    Your irony is overpowering at times. Any station that invites Steve Vines for political analysis and Nury Vittachi for entertainment is beyond irony surely. Do these unemployables get fees? Surely not.

    You now an iPhone 5. Load TUNEIN and listen to Classical Piano Trios on sky.fm and Comedy Club on 181.fm.

    And you have friends at RTHK? Oh well, someone has to take them out for a drink.

    And RTHK isn’t underfunded. People like Hugh ” Erm” Chiverton and Jonathan “Teezy Weezy” Douglas are doing very nicely thank you with two months’ leave, generous allowances for this and that. Erming and boring all the way to the bank.

  2. Property Developer says:

    Agreed that we’re all manipulated by media selective treatment, especially in HK. The Senkakus, above all, were put on the agenda by the Chinese, and then constantly kept there by constant provocations, showing that you can fool most of the people much of the time.

  3. Joe Blow says:

    That Gascoigne person, who was once a “famous soccer player” (yawn), during the reign of Margaret Thatcher (she still alive ?), is now a washed-up alcoholic, spending 40,000 pounds of other people’s money (what do you mean ‘there are a billion starving kids on the planet’ ?) on ill-fated rehab, is also BIG news. Why don’t you whinge about that instead, Hemlock ?

  4. Mary Hinge says:

    Yup, it’s a slow news day for certain when Warwick Reid makes it back into the headlines (of the SCMP), while the story about China being a transit point for Iran’s nuclear technology snuggles deeply into the inside pages. “Corrupt Caucasian Confirms Colonial Crapness” shock horror scandal, etc.

    PS. A South African colleague told me (long before this incident) that “Pistorius” was used colloquially there as a replacement word for ‘legless’ …

    “Have you been drinking?” “Yes, officer, I must admit that I am totally pistorius.”

    Cracking sense of humor, those Saffers.

  5. Bela Egan says:

    I have known about Warwick Reid working as a paralegal in His home country for at least five years. The information is freely available on the Internet with the most cursory of searches.

    Don’t tell us the SCMP has gone back to the old days of sitting around the FCC bar talking to drunken clapped-out barristers in the hope of extracting “hot news leads”?

    Get back to the Government fax machine vigil SCMP! It was much more yielding.

  6. harm fairs says:

    There are people alive that still listen to RTHK??? I have yet to learn what frequency (or web page) I would have to tune to in order to hear some pile of FILTH blathering on about boring crap from back in Blighty as if it was still 1986 and anyone under 60 years old still listened to radios. Someone should tell them that there was a handover and the interwebs have been invented, and then get rid of this silly colonial anachronism.

    http://acronyms.thefreedictionary.com/FILTH

  7. Babelaas Blignaut says:

    Hemmers, you have to admit that it is not often one of those 50 murders a day involves a high-profile Olympic athlete with no legs killing an FHM model who has been in the hottest 100 list for a couple of years.

    There should be a law against shooting hot chicks … ahem …

  8. darovia says:

    Sex, violence and personalities – how could the Pistorious story NOT make the headlines.

    Meanwhile, shouldn’t we spare a thought for those unfortunates who were trapped for a few hours on a cruise ship with no power, no flushing toilets and no clean drinking water; conditions that they described as “appalling” – and which half the world’s population endures every day.

  9. Msholozi says:

    I bet the glossy marketing brochures and sun drenched TV ads never referred to the gleaming white prize ship as a “floating toilet”.

  10. Headache says:

    Is anyone going to declare this hard-earned weekend open?

  11. Roger Bannister says:

    The case against Pistorious is strong … he does not have a leg to stand on. Anyway, surely his girlfriend should called Aileen or Peg. Sorry!

  12. Oik says:

    Apparently Police are stumped as to the motive….

  13. Incredulous says:

    @Oik Please don’t go down that route, you’ll have Harry Harrison and Steve Cray on your back before you know it. They’re all pundits, don’t you know…

  14. Roger Bannister says:

    Oscar’s defence will be he was legless at the time. OK, that’s enough.

  15. S. Hatch says:

    It’s not hard to figure out they are on a leash, and the government does not want local sensitive news covered. One gets the feeling that ESF is the only local school based on the number of Backchat and local news RTHK-3 had devoted to the “organ”. Probably their brats all attend ESF. Yes, the issue is important for a small, if vocal, segment of RTHK’s audience.

    However there is grass root problems which will have a far greater impact on Hong Kong’s future stability and happiness than if RTHK was to disappear. This is the extreme shortfall in public kindergarten and elementary school places in Hong Kong’s Northern NT, which is even now spreading to Taipo and Shatin. Try to get them to attend to it?

    Whut, says the prat in charge. Isn’t there a free market in Kindergartens? Try explaining to a thick skull who runs RTHK-3 that the government hands out land to churches & kaifongs for near free, and gives vouchers to subvent kindergarten schools who tow the government’s regulatory line, and thus are the only affordable places for the lower income families. These places are going to mainland kids who cross the boarder every day because mainland dad & mum grew up knowing how to bribing their way into anything.

    Anyone outside that can only compete by offering expensive services for white boys on the government payroll and businessmen who run re-invoicing/money laundry rackets.

  16. Sojourner says:

    I’m surprised that after having done the dastardly he didn’t leg it …. [Sorry]

  17. constance says:

    It’s not just RTHK. The BBC is obsessed with the legless shooting as well. RTHK staff haven’t caught up with changes in HK. They do all send their kids to ESF and talk about it on air as if we’re all part of a cosy community of expats. It ain’t like that any more.

  18. If you don’t recognise “young man bravely overcomes crippling handicap to become world-class record-breaking athlete, only to be arrested for brutally murdering famous and beautiful model twice voted among world’s sexiest women” as a major news story, then it’s a good thing you didn’t pick journalism as a career. It may not appeal to your (or my) refined tastes, but the masses who buy The Sun, Apple Daily or The National Enquirer will be salivating over every gory detail.

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