> Manhunt!

Manhunt!

Posted on Saturday, July 10, 2010 | No Comments

It started 7 days ago – but much like the series of the same name, its only been the last “24” hours that have really mattered as far as I’ve been concerned.

You see seven days ago Raoul Moat (a vowel filled name to say the least), apparently shot and killed his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend (who he thought was a police officer or to use a very British term “copper”), and started via a series of letters a rampage against the police force promising to kill a few more coppers before being caught. The police declared him “Most Wanted Man” and a huge manhunt started to find him before he struck again. Another ordinary news story from the UK thus far.

Up until yesterday, I’d just about avoided this story and was blissfully unaware of the details (I’m still not in all honesty). Other than someone was being hunted down, the snippets of news I’d managed to catch of the ‘real world’ the story hadn’t interested me enough to fully grab my attention.

But that all changed yesterday evening – because in the sleepy little village of Rothbury, all camera and news crews descended after hearing that Raoul had been spotted and cornered by the Police and negotiations for his surrender were underway. My TV tuned to Sky News at around 8pm and it stayed there until 2am the next day, I was gripped to the story and gripped to the accompanying tweets that commented and made jokes about the entire media operation.

It may all sound rather exciting, but the twists and turns were not over by a long shot. Sky brought us the news that his best friend had been brought in to talk him down (an exciting development), locals who were trapped in their homes were called and gave accounts of how they knew absolutely nothing about the situation and then – and then – former England Footballer Paul ‘Gazza’ Gascoigne had called the local radio station stating that only he could talk Raoul down and get him to surrender safely.

It was a story that had everything – and I was gripped! I wanted news cameras everywhere, I wanted to see Gazza confronting the criminal, I wanted police to be involved in a shoot out –- I wanted the whole thing to be turned into a blockbuster film!

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you see it), the master criminal keep us all up half the night only to then reportedly shoot himself ending the story in a predictable fashion.

My point in this blog post is not the story of Mr Moat’s demise, but the evolution of the news channel. No longer is it sufficient to report the story and move on to the next but the format has changed to provide full rolling coverage of the entire event – and its a change that has only happened in the UK in the past year or so; Michael Jackson’s death, followed by the full aftermath of that event right to the very end and perhaps beyond, the UK elections, ‘bigot-gate’, Cameron (not James), taking the PM job (never before have we the public seen the entire handing over of power if minute-by-minute detail on live TV), and now ‘Moat-gate’ or ‘Raoul-gate’ or whatever it shall be known as.

The only event before all of these that got so much minute-by-minute coverage was the death of Princess Diana in 1997 – but those were exceptional circumstances where Royalty (and perhaps more import ‘the people’s Princess’) had died in mysterious circumstances and the UK watched this historical event unfold right there on the TV screens.

All of these events featured exactly the same elements; camera crews everywhere even in places they shouldn’t have been, eye witness reports, opinions of those that don’t have an actual opinion and the ‘24’ split screen – the only thing missing is the clock and of course Jack Bauer.

….though we did get Gazza instead.

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