I am sitting in the back room, perched in front of the PC. From the front room comes the sound of the TV inexplicably tuned to the inexpiable Sky News. They are giving extensive coverage to the Sumatran earthquake whose tsunami has caused loss of thousands of lives in Asia.
It seems that this is the biggest earthquake in my lifetime, so this is News, with a capital N. It is traditionally a slow newsday, so big news is even bigger. Although the repeating headlines are mentioning thousands dead, presumably amongst the poor indigent peasant population, the underlying and overwhelming focus is on the tourist areas and the effect upon tourism. Not the effect on the fragile economies of that region, dependent upon tourism from the rich and decadent West, but on the impact of tourists' right to go every playground the world can offer.
Of course this does not surprise me. News is always more newsworthy if it could affect me, or you, or someone we know, or someone that they know. Always has been, always will be. Let's forget the millions of Sky viewers with connections in Asia.
I don't know why it makes me feel so uncomfortable. I know how the media works. I know that the most important news stories are those that come with pictures, or with eye-witnesses that speak English. That's why stories from the US of relatively minor catastrophes get far more coverage than disasters in the third world.
And you know that by tomorrow the TV will be full of tourists making their returns to Gatwick and Ringway. Rather than the thoughtful and contemplative you know the soundbite will come from the know-nothing gobby fullovhimself who flings himself at the waiting news crew.
To me, it's oh so predictable. But fairly few people have studied the media even in the moderate depth that I have done. Today's news value is next week's global outlook.
By next month, it will be forgotten.
Your starter for ten. Where is Bam? And your follow up - why have I asked?