THERE has been an awful lot of coverage about the media in, er, the media this week. Not surprising, given the publication of the Leveson Inquiry last week but crikey, if as a journalist it seemed like overkill on the BBC, I feel very sorry for those of you with just a passing interest.
One of the more peculiar aspects of being asked to write a column each week about telly for me is that, as a news junkie who defaults to Sky News at every opportunity (normally when Escape to the Country appears – perhaps the most ironically named programme going as there is no escape it seems) this column forces me to switch to normal telly.
But if anything sums up why the broadcast media is so obsessed with what is going on in the world of ink and paper, it is because it relies so heavily on the Press, it's the scourge that has become the press preview.
Not so long ago, the review of the papers lasted 15 minutes on Sky News, just before midnight, with a Sky News presenter and a journalist from the Press. Yes, it just filled time.
Watch Sky News now and the first press preview is at 9.30. Two guests, not necessarily journalists, plus a presenter looking at front pages at half nine, half ten and half eleven.
The only problem with the half nine review is that, er, normally, the papers haven't arrived. While on holiday last month, I watched the press preview at half nine on Sky News. Yes, I know, but I had three channels to choose from: CBS Drama (really), the oh so worthy BBC World and Sky News.
The only paper in was the I, which doesn't really give much away on its front page, so there wasn't really much to talk about. After exhausting every single promotional reference on the front, they resorted to showing the guest's front page ... of a magazine already on the stands.
Sometimes, they'll review a website. Really. A living, breathing, changing website. By its very nature, a website is probably going to be reporting the same news as Sky News. The news eating itself? Just a bit.
But what really annoys me are the morning paper reviews (I'm not sure when a preview becomes a review) when, it seems, a journalist from a paper isn't an essential. Surely if you're going to review the papers, you get someone with some insight to talk?
Oh no, as I watched while trying to distract my baby from demanding breakfast in a hotel which only started serving food an hour later, Sky News rolled out a celebrity personal trainer. Really.
Now, I know how to do alternate lunges, but I wouldn't go on Sky to express an opinion of any more depth than “they hurt”.
And while the trainer was chatty enough, his insight into what was going on behind the stories was limited.
And so it goes on with politicians now coming on to have a say. Jacqui Smith, the ex-home secretary best known for unintentionally claiming for her husband's porn on expenses, regularly delivers a verdict on what is in the Press.
In fairness to the BBC, they do inflict their own journalists to such mind numbing reviews too. NewsWatch is perhaps the most peculiar 15 minutes of BBC Breakfast each week (I know, that's saying something). Basically, it's Points of View for news and they pick some very odd themes to chase.
Last weekend, the BBC quizzed its own managers on why they let their reporters walk through flood water without sticks to check what is in front of them. The wisdom of the crowd was that it might encourage others to do the same. Follow that logic to its obvious conclusion and Jeremy Bowen will have to be recalled from Israel for fear of all the impressionable news viewers out there jumping on planes to the Gaza Strip.
Now I'm not saying journalism shouldn't be held to account, but I think we can all agree the Beeb has slightly more pressing issues at the moment?
Just one sentence about the Leveson coverage to end on. Question Time threatened to be a disaster when they confirmed Charlotte Church on the panel. But she was proof that celebrities can work on the programme if their research is good and they don't hog the limelight.
This week: What else? The X Factor final (Saturday, and Sunday ITV1). Chris Maloney's nan is a force to be reckoned with!