Leaving to one side the perceived rights, wrongs and just-don’t-know-anymores of Brexit, there’s one group that will no doubt be pleased when the people in charge finally make some kind (i.e. any kind) of progress – and that’s the nation’s media.
As a former local journalist, I used to enjoy the inexorable progress of the regional news agenda. The variety of tales from town centre pedestrianisation to local council squabbles that filled the pages of our paper would probably be seen from the outside as a little trite - but they were important to local people and at least those stories moved on, week after week.
But for years now, our national print and broadcast media has been trapped in a Brexit-style Groundhog Day existence; having to cover the same story in the same way, featuring the same arguments.
In the interests of balance, good hacks clearly need to air both sides of the story. First, the Brexit ideals of us needing to ‘honour the will of the people’ and denouncing ‘Project Fear’. We’re told people just want to ‘get it done’. Then, it’s the turn of the Remain argument that posits ‘nobody voted for no deal’, ‘democracy means we’re allowed to vote twice’ and that ‘no deal will be catastrophic’.
These lines have been used by both sides for years now. We don’t reach any conclusions and the burden of proof backing the more extreme views of those being interviewed seems to be increasingly optional – which must be another source of frustration for the fourth estate. The media are trapped on the same merry-go-round, conducting the same interview every day, like a 24-hour news channel version of Patrick McGoohan in The Prisoner (apologies to our younger readers but it’s still worth a watch).
So as we watch, listen to and read about the Brexit debate continuing, spare a thought for the media. However this all plays out, nobody wants to see the story move on more than them.