In the case of the spill, the result was never in doubt. It was only the margin. And once that was known, the big interest was in the demeanour of the key players afterwards. Still, that didn't stop some of the networks from cranking up coverage from before dawn, which gave the on-screen pundits plenty of time to comment on the frocks and the build-up to the
Come decision time around 10.45am, the journos (now highly caffeinated) were sitting on their smartphones awaiting an SMS from an embedded source backstage. As it turned out, the initial flash was wrong. But ABC News 24 host Annabel Crabb reassured us that this was the payoff for us getting this privileged real-time look behind the factory walls where the sausages were made. "In the old days," she said, "there was only one deadline a day." (Apparently, Annabel never worked for a wire service or in a radio newsroom.)
As soon as the vote was known, the barking punditocracy were unleashed from their cages to opinionate and prognosticate and speculate all over our televisions. All no doubt well considered and sincerely held views, but one couldn't help thinking that the coverage might have been better without all the idle chitchat and second and third guessing of what might happen next.
I am sure there IS a market for the "inside-the-beltway" US-style ball-by-ball analysis of the politics-as-an-end-in-itself sideshow. But the vast bulk of us just needed two things from spill day - the result of the vote and the press conferences of the protagonists. The rest was fluff. Perhaps, the ABC could cut out the middle man completely and just run a live un-narrated feed out of Canberra - with the occasional caption and a few helpful charts.
Of course, the danger of the on-tap 'analysis' in live news is that people jump to conclusions or opinionate with incomplete or incorrect information. That in turn becomes the accepted wisdom and creates runaway self-generating memes that, Titanic like, are very hard to turn around. This commercial from The Guardian is the best illustration I've seen of how the 24/7 'Punditocracy-as-News' cycle (with no pause for quiet reflection) is not serving us particularly well.