Friday, May 4, 2007

If election coverage were military strength, the BBC would rule with an iron fist

I am sitting here watching election coverage on S4C. Normally at this point, I would have a quick "For those of you playing along at home" note. But voter apathy is rather high in Wales, so, for those of you not presently in my living room, Wales had Assembly elections on Thursday.

For those of you who read the South Wales Echo, Wales has a governmental body commonly known as the Assembly, or Y Cynulliad. It's kind of like Parliament except the opposition parties tend not to be as witty. The Assembly is housed in one of Cardiff Bay's myriad weird-looking buildings (FTYPAH: Cardiff Bay is an Easter basket of look-how-hard-I'm-trying architecture like the St. David's Hotel, the Millennium Centre, and the Assembly building).

The last time Wales held elections, only 38 percent of the voting population took part. This time around, the Assembly has more power (that makes it sound as if it is Haggar off Final Fight, gathering strength by kicking back a six-pack he's found on the subway), but that's not expected to have drawn a whole hell of a lot more people to the polling stations.

Despite this, BBC Cymru has deployed every camera it has to all corners of Wales so Dewi Llwyd can yell at several people at once. With the exception of Plaid Cymru, talking heads for political parties have a bad habit of putting forward boneheads with my level of Welsh. That is, the politicos can understand the question, but if placed under any pressure at all they crumble like Didier Drogba under questioning from the Mossad*. It's funny to watch. I'm sure Dewi's a swell fella, but there is no way in hell I would agree to talk to him on live television.

Along with cameras and reporters everywhere, BBC Cymru is also providing commentary from at least six pundits. It also has graphics that outdo most Sam Raimi films. But my favourite element is that they have dragged in two bloggers to keep tabs on the blogging-world reaction to the election. The thing is, I'm pretty sure there are no more than 90 Welsh-language bloggers. Of those, considerably less have discussed the election with any substance (I know I haven't). The two bloggers they've got in studio are probably the only two bloggers who really care -- effectively they're keeping tabs on themselves.

As I finish this entry, there is a man standing in some crazy blue-screen life-size Assembly chamber, he is standing on the edge of a hole in the floor that looks over the whole of Wales and he is narrowly avoiding being decapitated by walls of glass with charts on them.

And now there's a choir performing in the actual Assembly building.

All of this is being duplicated in English on BBC 1. Its scope makes election coverage in America look like a talent show at the South Dakota State Fair.

*FTYPAH: Drogba plays for Chelsea FC and seems to hit the deck pretty much any time someone in the stadium coughs; the Mossad, Israel's intelligence service, is notorious for its less-than-friendly methods of extracting information.

1 comment:

Rob said...

i hate to be such a cliche (american computer nerd who likes monty python), but nobody beats their election coverage...