Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Good Luck, Senator Obama! And… Why Do I Bother With the BBC On Election Nights?

The very best of luck to all our friends in the States gnawing their fingers tonight, and of course to every other country in the world (polls of which suggest would each vote for President Obama). I won’t be liveblogging the election, though I’m reading several blogs, and I’ll be wearily watching the BBC. I love the BBC; the current witch-hunts against them are terrible news; but, come every election night, the BBC trots out terrible news values, too. We have the anticipointment of hours of tedious Dimblebyvision to come, but so far Newsnight’s promised rubbish coverage for the night. ‘And over to Jeremy for some more waffle.’ ‘Thank you, Jeremy.’ Well, yes, having nothing to report doesn’t help them, but it’s been a rotten start beyond that.

Jeremy Paxman started by firing off mistakes – 130 million people are entitled to vote; no, that’s the anticipated turnout… We have the results from just one small town in New Hampshire; no, there are two that vote at midnight and we’ve had them both all day… And since then he’s been grumpy as ever.

Worse is that Jeremy Vine’s no doubt extremely expensive touch-screen county breakdown is of no use at all to the viewer. True, it looks less insultingly stupid than his last UK election cartoons, but he’s been showing us pictures of states, in white, split up into an intricate grid of counties and districts. So what? He gestures at them, presses them – often the wrong one, because there are dozens of the things and they’re just blank white – and then shares with us some random demographics from, say, two districts out of fifty. Why that one? How significant is it? We don’t know. It comes across as someone just showing off their software to you, when what you want is to press the buttons yourself.

Next time (sigh), they need to learn the value of shading, which every other political mapmaker online or in the papers can manage. Add colour for population – to say, for example, that the Democrat areas are small, but where a lot of the people live – or for party share of the vote last time, I don’t care, but each would tell us something for a glance. But a blank white grid, like a serious broadsheet fifty years ago…

It’s going to be a long night.

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Switch to CNN - from whom the BBC nicked that technology I reckon.

They know how to use it and understand it's relevance.
So switch to the radio!

Radio 4 is being sane and sensible and not too dull.
Beeb was dreadful last night; on the TV at least. The main problem was they were very slow to call anything and they didnt seem to be bothered about anything other than the electoral college...

That and it was just lame how they basically said they were going to call it when the polls closed in California...im convinced the US networks called it alot earlier..
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