When news is scarce the broadcast must go on

North African cornsnake found in Wetherby
North African cornsnake found in Wetherby

During late July and throughout August, I always feel very sorry for those individuals whose job it is to provide us with news, whether it is via radio, television, the internet or the written press.

Why, you may ask? Simply because there isn’t usually very much for them to get their teeth into.

Have you noticed how much airtime, column inches and internet pages are devoted to news these days?

Whereas once upon a time, we had a brief news bulletin every now and again on the radio, the headlines several times a day on the television with a couple of longer bulletins and, of course, daily newspapers, we are now deluged with 24-hour news channels, hourly updates on radio channels, endless news on the internet and, of course, daily newspapers.

Perhaps the lack of ‘proper’ news explains why so many reporters were camped outside St Mary’s Hospital for 10 days – nowhere else to go!

The royal baby must have seemed like manna from heaven for news editors round the world.

Here in France, Le Figaro devoted a full page spread to the story and seemed quite excited about the fact that they had a photo of the top of the baby’s head and his hand.

They went on to conduct a guessing game about the baby’s names plus providing an analysis of why the British royal family is so popular and other completely unrelated items.

I suspect that the situation is exactly the same in every country in the Northern Hemisphere in July and August.

Parliaments are usually in recess and politicians are on holiday. It makes you realise just how much of the news is centred on them.

This year, the French President has decreed that his ministers must remain within two hours travelling distance of Paris which will restrict their holiday plans somewhat.

I assume this is so that they can be whisked back to their office if a situation develops which their civil servants can’t handle.

As most of the French seem to be sitting in traffic jams on motorways on the way to or from the Mediterranean, I don’t think there is much danger of anything desperate happening – unless, of course, there is a strike at petrol stations.

The main news on the French equivalent of BBC1 is at 8pm every evening.

Many French families watch it while having their evening meal (not something that I like to do, so I wish they would take a leaf out of the BBC book and move it to 10pm).

It lasts for around 40 minutes and the editors have obviously been struggling to find something to fill the time.

Last week, they were lucky because there was trouble in a town near Paris where the police were accused of mishandling the arrest of a woman wearing a full Moslem veil – which, as you probably know, is now against the law in France.

There were extensive reports covering every aspect of the event in considerable detail – interviews with the woman’s husband, local Moslem community leaders, local residents, police spokesmen and other random passers-by.

The reporters certainly derived maximum mileage from the story.

There have been lots of stories about the weather and the heat wave, involving interviews with the elderly, care home operators, small children and their carers etc, together with lots of advice about how to keep your home cool and warnings to drink lots of water.

One item which I did find quite interesting was about the young people who work as supervisors at children’s holiday camps or ‘colonies de vacances’ during the French school holidays.

EU law apparently now decrees that if the supervisors work over 13 hours in any one session, they must then take 11 hours rest.

The director of one camp was totally irate about it, explaining that they normally take the children to a theme park during their stay which involves setting off early in the morning and returning late at night.

If they obey the directive, there would be no-one available to supervise the children on the following day.

Their only alternatives are either to cancel the trip or employ more supervisors – which would increase the cost of the camp.

In the UK, I think we often feel that we are the only ones complaining about the EU and some of the stupid rules and regulations emanating from Brussels. It’s nice to know that others are fed up with it, too.

The danger about a lack of real news is that trivial events get blown up out of all proportion.

I was amused to see the headline on the Wetherby News website about an American Corn Snake on the streets of Wetherby.

We had a 4ft. long snake in our shower in France a couple of weeks ago and it didn’t make the news!

Unfortunately, the local paper disappeared years ago and I don’t think the nationals would be interested, do you?