Tuesday 15 October 2019

Television review: And the Tony Award goes to....

Tony Connelly (RTE News)

No nonsense or jargon .... RTE's Tony Connelly
No nonsense or jargon .... RTE's Tony Connelly
Declan Lynch

Declan Lynch

I was reading the latest dispatch from RTE's Europe correspondent Tony Connelly, reading it and re-reading it, and eventually I started to understand the broad outline of what he was saying.

I knew then that this guy is very good. Or at least I knew it for sure.

I had suspected for a long time that he was very good, but when someone writes something that takes me about 20 minutes to "unpack", as they say, I realise that respect is due. Though I should add that this only applies if the correspondent is trying to explain the complexities of an issue in the only way possible, rather than needlessly complicating what should be a far simpler statement.

You need that reward at the end, otherwise you will be angry. And there's enough to make you angry in terms of the meaningless nature of so many things, without stumbling across more of it.

Of course this was just one of Connelly's written works, on social media, he would later be refining it for his TV reporting. So the lad's a grafter too, which I admire. Indeed, I am working on an all-encompassing theory of journalism which suggests that the best stuff is mainly just a result of people trying harder, that hackery is mainly due to lazy-mindedness rather than mere incompetence.

But there's always a bit of both in there, and there are other kinds of wrong-headedness which have contributed much to the badness of these times. Hackery really has been a major contributor to the Brexit omnishambles, with its dumb insistence that there are two sides to every story, when in truth there is only one.

So Connelly really has been earning his corn, with his obvious fairness, which again is not the same thing as thinking there are two sides to every story - it involves making an assessment of the merit of both sides, and then reaching a fair conclusion. Which itself is hard to define, except to say that you know it when you see it, and when Tony Connelly is on the case, you see it.

Perhaps it helps that he is working for our State broadcaster rather than the UK's, where you can see their correspondents winning and losing the struggle with those relentless forces of hackery.

Emily Maitlis on Newsnight is winning, just about. I would tend to trust her not to make frequent mention of "the will of the people", which is a Brexiteer propaganda line that supposedly impartial reporters freely cite as a simple statement of fact.

But it is not a statement of fact - it would be a truer statement to point out that "the will of the people" is invariably used by despots when it coincides with their own will, to extinguish that of the many people who have quite a different will. Which in this case was at least 48pc and is probably a lot more at this stage.

So Maitlis is winning, and Jon Snow of Channel 4 News is slightly ahead too, and so are Beth Rigsby of Sky News and Robert Peston of ITV, who are also quite capable at times of coming across like grown-up people who have analysed the situation and arrived at a conclusion which favours one side over the other.

Otherwise I keep seeing this twisted culture of "balance", which has elevated the garbage of the Brexiteers to the same level as the actual will of the people, which is one that, on the whole, does not include the introduction of nostalgic wartime-style rationing by Prime Minister Rees-Mogg.

Nor is it a valid journalistic exercise to visit every one-horse town in England and find an equal number of brokendown old geezers on both sides of the argument, all of them essentially talking a load of cobblers.

That is just more hackery, and deeply dishonest too, because it pretends to be involving the people in the debate, whereas in truth it merely reveals how much they fear the same people - in particular they fear telling some old soldier he has no idea what he's talking about.

But then compared to Tony Connelly, we are all that solider.

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