Now that Andrew Neil has left GB News, I volunteer to replace him | Hussein Kesvani


So it’s goodbye to Andrew Neil. While the former president and chief presenter of GB News had decades of experience in print and television, it was clear from the start of his last venture that he was an analog artifact struggling to break into a world. extremely online. GB News was trying to take the limitless anger and energy of right-wing publications and turn them into television. But Neil, to put it bluntly, is not a poster.

Despite assurances from the former BBC heavyweight that the channel would not “slavishly follow the existing news agenda” and cover all parts of the country with fairness and compassion to “reflect opinions and values of our UK “, it seems Neil’s attempt to revolutionize British broadcasting has fallen flat on his face. Perhaps that’s because GB News was chasing an audience that doesn’t really exist – trying to combine traditional elements of high-profile news (BBC veterans, seasoned TV producers) with the furious viral beat of the wake-bashing online. The hated Metropolitan elite – also known as Neil’s friends and co-workers – lost interest quite quickly when it was clear few people were watching. But the audience of right-wing angry posts doesn’t necessarily want an old-fashioned TV channel, especially one that can’t keep pace with the rapid cycles of increasingly lopsided conversations on YouTube and Twitter.

Rumors of Neil’s departure had been circulating since his sudden decision to go on a three-month vacation less than a fortnight after the channel launched. Perhaps, like many of us who work in the media, he experienced burnout and traveled to the south of France to practice mindfulness. Neil, for his part, would do well to view his departure as a personal decision – he was more interested in managing his media properties and grilling politicians than sitting still. Three separate segments find out if the word “curry” is offensive, or listen to angry monologues stating that “The tiger who came for tea has been cancelled”.

The real reason for Neil’s departure is simple. What made him a staple in elite media circles – namely his closeness to the rich and powerful and how he embodied a bygone era of print dominance – doesn’t count much among an audience. who would rather listen to Joe Rogan (or his dozens of YouTube impersonators) than the BBC’s Brexitcast.

Indeed, even the channel is more and more aware of where its audience is and what it really wants. Just a few months ago, a team member described it as a “digital media company with a TV channel attached”. Meanwhile, anyone who spends more than a few hours a day online will see how much less recent GB News production looks like a news organization – were GB News reporters attending council meetings or leaning over court records to break up local stories? – a visualization of the trending topics of Twitter.

It also explains why GB News’ apparently most popular correspondents are not journalists or big names in broadcasting, but commentators who came to the channel with a significant number of online subscribers or, in the case of Woke Watch host Andrew Doyle, a brand built around a Twitter Personality. Additionally, while GB News’ TV audience figures are low, its online footprint is more impressive, reaching nearly 8 million people per day on Twitter, and racking up hundreds of thousands, and sometimes millions of views on TikTok and Facebook.

What does this tell us? For starters, the era of the impartial and authoritative voice presuming the mood of the nation is over. Second, while being on TV still gives a sort of prestige and reach, it doesn’t do much to attract new audiences – who have become accustomed to the feeling of being on TV. participant in the many online scandals of the day, liking, retweeting and reposting the latest half-true ‘cancel culture’ shock. And third, any broadcaster who wants to survive the age of YouTube shows, Twitch streams, and long-running podcasts – all of which easily exist on the tiny screen that sits in front of people’s TVs, in their hands – will need to learn how to. respond to a constantly connected audience.

As someone who spends almost 14 hours a day online and hosts not one, corn two podcasts about being addicted to the internet – I am delighted to offer my services to the undoubtedly panicked GB News investors as a replacement for Neil. In fact, please consider this article as my cover letter for the vacancy. Unlike Neil, I’m willing to put in the extra hours to pursue the really important stories the mainstream media awake is ignoring: how the anime feminizes young working-class men, and whether the social justice warriors at Adobe will be one. day brought to justice for the cancellation of Flash Player. As chairman, I would also introduce a wider range of audience viewing – not just commentary shows, but good british tv: shows like Dudes Rock, about the unique oppressions divorced fathers face in family court, The Tarmac Review, Britain’s most beloved road show and a documentary series directed by Michael Portillo, revealing that the pyramids were in fact built by the Victorians.

Under my tenure, GB News will more than report national stories that others ignore, it will also present a vision of what Britain could be: a place where you can smoke live on TV without being canceled by Leninists. Ofcom, where we don’t “bring down Britain” by examining too closely its institutions or history, and most importantly, a place where the Tiger will always be welcome for tea – accompanied by an Imperial Pint measured.

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