The Righteousness of the Twitterati
Actually, that title is inaccurate. What I really mean is the righteousness of a certain "mob mentality" on social media, and Twitter in particular.
I refer, of course, to the apparent view that yesterday's coverage of the Jubilee by BBC television was simply awful. If you were to venture onto Twitter yesterday - and today - that is certainly the prevailing view. And plenty of big names agreed with one another.
But I wonder if something of a pack mentality takes place in such circumstances?
I should state that I only watched a couple of hours' coverage yesterday, and may have missed some of the more venal "sins" that the BBC may or may not have committed. Yet it strikes me that there is a "mob rule" of sorts among the more famous-on-Twitter types. And I say this as someone who, like them, is of the a left-leaning, liberal bias.
The problem facing producers covering yesterday's events, as I see it, is probably two-fold.
Unlike a Royal Wedding, there's not actually an awful lot to see when a 1000 ships are floating past. Aside from cutting to and from the Royal barge, that's really an awful lot of filler time. Watching the boats can only take you so far. With a wedding, for example, we have all the various elements of arrivals and departures, including a lengthy service. That uses screen-time.
But the BBC can't treat it like a wedding, or a funeral. They have to "add interest". And that probably means celebrities. There are only so many flag-waving visitors that can be interviewed after all.
The other issue was the weather. Covering a moving live event is challenging, since wires aren't easily slung from boats to land. So there was an awful lot of radio communications for cameras and microphones. Add in the vagueries of the weather, and that meant technical disruption. I suppose they could have been less ambitious and not people as many people on boats, but that would have made for a tedious afternoon's coverage.
I can't help but notice that the coverage got more than 10 million people watching - and I don't suppose they were all watching to see how bad it could get as a result of what they'd read on Twitter. I suspect they watched because they were interested, and probably helped by the fact that it was too wet across much of the country to do much more than watch TV.
I've no doubt that yesterday's programme will not be getting on too many awards shortlists. It wasn't great. And it wasn't terrible either. But I'm afraid that a certain maliciousness was in evidence on social networks, and in the follow-up coverage from the Mail and Telegraph (both of whom have their own axes to grind with the BBC, let's not forget).
It's terrifically easy to sit a keyboard and mock coverage as it happens. I know. I've done it too. But I don't see why a Dimbleby was needed in place of Matt Baker.
This was supposed to be a celebration after all.
There was a brief discussion about this on Radio 4's Today programme this morning. Gillian Reynolds of the Telegraph was seriously unimpressed. However, I very much side with Mark Damazer, former Radio 4 controller who seems to understand how the coverage was meant to be different. He articulates it much better than I've been able to. Have a listen.