Like many others, I was very hopeful that the arrival of GB News would herald a very different approach to news provision across the UK. I can’t help feeling that what we have actually got from Andrew Neil’s Team represent a huge opportunity being missed.
In the current news and mainstream media climate, the challenge to under promise and over deliver should have been an open goal. We have a media obsessed with negative sensationalism and presenting opinion as factual news, all the time playing on the regrettable reality that the vast majority of people in this Country simply do not look at anything media-based, critically in any way.
Journalism has in many ways taken on the role of being yet another career calling for the metropolitan elite, and journalists themselves have become members of a pantheon of celebrity gods, where we have witnessed the evolution from reliable agents of truth to 24-hour ego displays where the individual has become the ongoing story, rather than anything remotely in touch with keeping us all up to date with reality and anything like the wider truth.
Simply giving us the facts and discussing the responses from Government or whoever else was closely involved in an open, unbiased and balanced way would itself have been enough to do all that we were being told that GB News would do from our pre-launch view of the can.
Yet the direction of travel became clear within minutes of Andrew Neil’s introduction on the evening that GB News was launched, when we were given an immediate back story for all the key new presenters – setting out a stall which somehow said ‘our presenters are better than the others’, thereby immediately falling into the same trap of it all being about the individual and who is better qualified to tell the news, rather than it being all about the news and why we can rely on this channel to keep us accurately informed.
Yes, you have to give a new news station the opportunity to get things right. However, excusable technical glitches aside, it appears that the moment Guto Harri took the BLM knee, the pathway was fixed, and GB News was set on a date with destiny that it has so far done nothing to try and avoid.
Indeed, whilst evening viewing figures around the time of the Nigel Farage Show might be rising, there is the inevitable question to be asked about it – which is Why?
The answer isn’t rocket science either. It’s because there are a lot of people who like to hear Nigel’s opinion. They certainly don’t tune in because they think he’s about to serve up a big helping of objectively delivered news.
On balance, those who have previously suggested that the whole GB News project was launched just so it would become the UK’s answer to Fox News could be right. The travesty of that is that since the Regional News Industry crashed overnight following Rupert Murdoch’s declaration that ‘the rivers of gold which once were classified advertising have dried up – we are going on the net’ (or words to that effect), the local and regional stories that many more people want to hear about and engage with have not been covered in anything near being a meaningful way.
The reality that Andrew and his strategy team might do well to consider is that the GB News Platform could have easily and very quickly have become the universal news vehicle of cross-demographic choice.
Personally, I’m hoping that it’s still early enough in the day for GB News to change. Like the politicians it spends a lot of time focusing on, the room for improvement when it comes to outreach and engagement with people, businesses and communities at a local level is so considerable, it is difficult to understand why it is not already the clear choice.