Why You Should Be Watching 'Everything But the News'
At first, I wasn’t entirely sure what I was watching when I screened the first episode of Everything But the News. One moment, it feels like a straight-up news report, but then it shifts into a one-liner, a wacky incident or an outtake. Yet each episode still ends up informing the viewer. And it’s because of that hard-to-classify structure that I’m looking forward to more episodes of this new PBS Digital Studios production. The webseries follows a reporter named Steve Goldbloom, who lands a job as PBS’ tech correspondent. He heads out to San Francisco, and is assigned stories about buzzy topics like ride-sharing apps and mobile dating services. In the midst of Goldbloom’s attempts to cover the story, he conducts awkward interviews, aggravates his producer (heard only in phone calls) and meets an impressive array of real-life figures in the tech industry.
It’s not always clear how much of the series is scripted, but maybe that’s the real charm. You’re left to guess whether Steve is capturing a natural reaction from someone, or whether a scene has been set up in advance. For media-savvy online viewers, sorting out fact from fiction in the series might be just as engaging as the episodes themselves.
In the interest of transparency, I should mention that I’m friends with the associate producer on the show, Nic Pollock. But that doesn’t change the fact that Everything But the News is a fun blend of entertainment and journalism – and maybe even a hint of what news coverage will be like in the future.
In journalism circles, there’s been a lot of fretting over how to get younger people watching the news. The concern is that the 15-35 year-old demographic only gets their news from comedians like Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Whether intentionally or not, Everything But the News offers an alternative structure: scenes that wouldn’t be out of place on a sketch comedy show, but with an extra injection of real reporting.
Perhaps the only knock against Everything But the News is that it does tend to emulate traditional journalism’s slowness in reporting on hot Internet trends. You may have already heard all about a popular YouTube star or a service like Uber, and by the time a TV reporter like Goldbloom shows up, it may seem like there’s nothing new to talk about. But given the behind-the-scenes flavour of the series, the timing isn’t much of an issue.
Whether you’re looking for a fresh take on tech reporting, or just a fun new digital series, I highly recommend you check out the available episodes of Everything But the News (scattered through this post), and subscribe to their channel if you’re an experienced YouTube user.