IMAGINE if you went to the supermarket, dug out your quid for a trolley, working your way past the mince pies in November, got your shopping and went to the checkout, only to find the checkout assistant wasn’t going to serve you.
Instead she – or he – just wanted to tell you about how their boss had just quit and everything they were supposed to have done wrong.
And just when you thought they’d got to the end of the story, they roped in the cashier from the next till to talk it through again.
And maybe a passing supervisor (but not the one who supervises the self-service checkouts because we all know supermarket law dictates they’re never around near the tills anyway).
What’s the difference between that scenario and the BBC’s approach to covering its own comings and goings this week?
If ever there was an example of the media eating itself, then the BBC’s news coverage over the past few days would be it.
At one point on Monday morning, I feared the celebrities who make the soulless trip to Salford to plug whatever it is they’re flogging for Christmas would be pushed to the sidelines of yet more soul searching about whether the director general was right to go.
By lunchtime on the BBC News Channel they were seeking out people to say the director general’s pay off was too great.
In between, we’d had BBC Five Live saying they “understood” that the head of BBC News and her deputy had “stepped aside” – whatever that means.
What sort of news world do we live in when the BBC reports on speculation that a boss has been temporarily removed from their post?
In an hour of radio between 8 and 9, almost 30 minutes was taken up by talk about the crisis at the BBC.
That, put another way, is probably more airtime per hour than they would give the Queen dying, David Cameron resigning or a plane falling out of the sky.
The BBC is a fine institution. It does some great journalism.
But crikey, doesn’t it like airing its grubby knickers in public?
Of course, I’d be complaining if it ignored its failings. But then again, it often does – you’d be amazed how many news stories which turn up on local radio began life in local newspapers.
That’s why they cover every small development in newspapers so closely – it’s where they get many of their stories from.
But there has to be a balance. And despite the collective wisdom of the hundreds of journalists pumping out hundreds of hours of broadcasting on what’s gone wrong at the BBC, no-one has actually revealed an answer.
It’s journalism for journalists – not the wider public.
Someone, somewhere, made a bad mistake in allowing the “senior Tory at the north Wales care home” story to air on Newsnight.
Someone also made a mistake not allowing the Jimmy Savile story to air on Newsnight. Someone needs to be held to account. Lots of journalists talking among themselves about something which, to be quite frank, doesn’t really interest a lot of people, doesn’t hold anyone to account.
The sooner the BBC realises that, the sooner we can get back the BBC we know, love . . . and have no choice but to pay for each year.
What I’ll be watching next week: Pop Charts Britannia (BBC 4, 9.25pm, Friday): Need an alternative to Children In Need? Check out this look back at 60 years of the music charts.