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Hughes blog post: Coming to you live from… the hairdresser

9 February 2011    

I walk past South Australia’s Parliament House quite often, en route to the railway station after work.

Occasionally, this massive pillared building will have a television van parked outside, cables snaking over the footpath, and a TV journalist talking to camera at the top of the stairs. It’s your traditional live cross from Parliament House.

Why do they do it?

Sometimes we keep doing the same thing, never questioning the reason or looking for alternatives. I suspect political journos’ live crosses might fall into that category.

More often than not, they’re not interviewing a politician (or anyone else) outside Parliament House. They’re not awaiting breaking news (someone dashing out of the House with a new piece of legislation?) It seems they just need ‘the right backdrop’, that sense of being on location, right at the heart of the story. I get all that. And I understand that TV needs vision … I’m just wondering (given it isn’t entirely necessary) if there’s a better way to retain audience attention and provide interesting vision.

So I’ve come up with a few fun alternatives* and I hope you’ll contribute.

Top 10 New Backdrops for ‘Political Live TV Crosses’

10. Parliamentary dining room. Even better, the members’ bar. I’d love to see a journalist leaning on the bar, snug in the hub of political gossip and wine fumes.

9. The back of a taxi. Everyone knows that cabs are a hotbed of political opinion, so it’s a broadcast location and vox pop all in one.

8. Your average shopping mall food court. Again, full of valuable political opinion bubbling away behind the journalist; and who knows, it may coincide with an MP’s visit and a bit of baby kissing.

7. The beach on a sunny day. Viewers will be so intrigued by a political journo standing on white sand in their togs, they’ll have watched a whole political story before they know it. (Based on the same principle that brought us Naked News in the UK).

6. The barbershop/hairdressers. Just imagine your political correspondent getting a well-deserved haircut in the chair while sharing the political happenings of the day with the ever-plugged-in barber.

5. A Qantas lounge near you – heading into Sitting Weeks in Canberra, our political media pack can certainly pick up breaking news on the spot.

And numbers 4, 3, 2, 1 … they’re up to you.

*It is noted that many of these are unrealistic – so go ahead and have fun with your contributions!

- Michelle Prak