Pres fans can all be guilty to some extent of judging news programmes by appearance.
Of course, looks do matter: the titles, graphics, set and astons all create the environment which the actual journalism sits in.
Get it badly wrong and the journalism loses credibility. Get it right and you do justice to the journalism. Individual stories which might be dull or badly produced don’t seem quite so bad either.
But ultimately what really matters are the stories, how they are produced and the programme running orders. The concern over the future of the BBC News Channel serves as a reminder of this.
The BBC’s international news coverage is one of its greatest strengths.
Foreign news is about more than the coverage of a major story like the war in Ukraine. It is about trying to produce a good range of stories from across the globe which are of interest or importance to viewers.
Everyone who saw Michael Buerk’s reports on the Ethiopian Famine of 1984 remembers them. But to this day there is still a concern that Africa features too little on major bulletins except to highlight a problem.
There is also the question over just how much world news a particular bulletin should include – but the journalists all place the viewer in Britain at the centre of their storytelling. It is the classic challenge of thinking about how to engage a viewer having their tea with an issue which they may not have realised they were interested in. This all boils down to good storytelling.
As a general rule, the BBC News at Ten includes more international material than the BBC News at Six. But to be relevant, a mainstream programme for a mainstream audience clearly has to include a full range of domestic news too.
This is where questions about the new News Channel still need to bs answered.
An international audience will hardly lap up another round of two-ways with reporters around Britain on the latest train strikes. But the story is of vital importance here.
British viewers meanwhile will not want a diet of endless overseas stories and references to the British Prime Minister and Queen Elizabeth of the United Kingdom.
As for the main programmes on the two big channels, there was a remarkable demonstration this week of the differences between their priorities.
The death at the age of 41 of the singer Darius Campbell Danesh led the ITV Evening News and was reported prominently on ITV News at Ten.
Both main BBC One bulletins gave his death a short mention towards the end.
There is a full article to be written about how these decisions reflect the different priorities of different programmes and services.
While these differences may not be as stark as the conflicting personalities of rival newspapers, the brand values of different news services are about far more than the cosmetic.
Even if the new BBC News Channel looks similar to the current one, what will the content be like? The brand could be very different even if it might not seem to be superficially.
PICTURED: BBC News Channel studio. COPYRIGHT: BBC.
A strange one to consider. I find myself in the opposite situation – I’m Welsh but often live overseas and don’t really have much to do with British news outside of the really big stuff. When I turn to the BBC from, say, my gym in Yerevan, or a hotel room in Almaty, I’m more interested in the remit that World News caters for now. Particularly, the BBC’s strengths in international reporting. I imagine that many of the people who watch World News would be rather bemused to see wall-to-wall Tory party leadership coverage, for instance.
Networks like the BBC, Al Jazeera and DW are ultimately efforts in soft power for their respective – it just so happens that the BBC works hard to maintain an image of integrity. Much of the time, their reporting is reliable and relevant. That’s why there’s an audience. I fear that by merging BBC News and World News, both UK domestic viewers lose out and international viewers who would wonder why they’re watching a channel clearly not for them. I think there’s a fair argument to be made that you’re helping to create the impression of a more insular, inward-looking UK when that happens.