OPINION

Subject overkill on TV news bulletins

The police may have solved quickly the murders of five hunters in Agrinion but our television channels had solved them even quicker than that. Consider their «post-mortem examinations» at the scene of the crime, their digital reconstructions of the executions and their revelations of the identity of the suspects long before any official announcement by authorities. These suspects were grilled about their alibis live on television first, long before their explanations to the investigating magistrate probing this case. Thankfully, there were only a few instances of blatant exploitation of the tragic incident by television channels. There were no excessively gory reports. However, for at least 48 hours, it was as if the world had stopped turning and everything revolved around two villages in Agrinion. Indeed, this subject monopolized most morning chat shows on Monday and was even discussed on certain entertainment and «lifestyle» programs. As for the evening news bulletins on that day, Alter channel dedicated 65 minutes to the multiple murder, Alpha and Mega devoted about 40 minutes each to the incident, while Star allocated 30 minutes. State channel Net set aside 20 minutes of its news bulletin to the killings (including a retrospective on mass murderers of the past few decades) while Skai devoted 10 minutes. But the coverage of the latter two channels was sufficient to inform us about what had happened. Not even the recent Israel-Lebanon conflict managed to displace all other domestic and foreign news from TV bulletins. Until recently, it was only Alpha channel which had aired bulletins focusing on just one subject; now the other private channels seem to be following suit. And so the pope’s historic visit to Turkey was squashed into a brief slot while other significant developments were not even mentioned. Evidently the channels decided that viewers would be thirsting for details about the shocking murders in Agrinion as they postponed a popular entertainment show to accommodate their extended coverage. This is not to underestimate the experience and hard work of the reporters covering the story from Agrinion. But this «minute by minute» style of coverage lends itself to sensationalism while the essence of the matter is lost. Whatever is happening «now» is all that counts, according to this approach which strives to keep adrenalin levels high. There is no real need for viewers to feel that they are «there» but to understand what happened and how.