The idea was so simple, it was genius. Pure, elegant, cheap. Just what Brewster was looking for – he could feel the lightbulb above his head heat up.
He’d arranged a ‘yes’ meeting, picking 12 members of staff, one for every star sign. He read that animation maestro Chuck Jones held such brainstormers with his team – idea sessions where every crazy suggestion was considered – resulting in the wild creativity of Roadrunner and other Loony Tunes cartoon gems in their heyday. GB News needed a shakeup and anything could go on the table.
“We could bring back the national anthem – have the presenters stand for a minute three times a day.”
That was Bernard from Accounts. Pisces. Fuck me gently. “That’s great Bernie, keep ’em coming.”
“How about documentaries on statues,” said Gerry from Marketing. Aries. “Anti-woke campaign to save our heritage. Get Nige and Foxy debating the real history.”
“We did that last month – the Churchill payoff.” Brewster sighed. Jones had it easy. The ‘toon squad were young, enthusiastic, creative minds bouncing fresh off the ceiling. His crew were the leftovers – right-wing slow-wits from the back of the class, squeezing the toothpaste from the top.
The ratings were plummeting. The shows were shit. They were coasting. Brewster knew they were a laughing stock – talent was dismounting the sick horse as it limped into the knacker’s yard. The exodus had aided Brewster’s own rise to the top – each promotion based on the ‘Peter Principle’ of no-one better to fill the hole – but now he had to deliver. GB News had to think big or…
LOCAL NEWS FOR LOCAL PEOPLE
“Why don’t we go local?” Marge from Telesales. Aquarius.
“Local news for local people?” There was a nervous titter around the room. Brewster’s voice had adopted a more sarcastic tone the higher up the food chain he ate. Marge blushed a little. This time, it wasn’t a rhetorical question. The line was too good for cynicism – he’d save it for a rainy day.
Brewster had been tilting back in his seat at the head of table. Now, he leant forward. “We already do local reports, the comedy filler every hour.”
“I mean go really local… focus on one town, one community. Make their voice heard.” Bloody hell, Marge just knocked it out the park. Where did that come from?
“I saw it in New Zealand,” said Marge. She had family there. “Most popular programme from Invercargill was the beach race. Whole country tuned in, bet on the winners and losers. Everyone had their favourites…”
Her voice trailed off. Brewster was staring intently at the table, silent, rolling a pen between his fingers. His mind was ten steps ahead, planning. There was no point in half measures. 24 hour coverage over 7 days – all reportage focused exclusively on one town. They couldn’t compete with the daddy channels, so they’d make small their new big.
He looked up and smiled to see 12 expectant, nervous faces looking back. He nodded. “Let’s find us a town,” he said.