So the BBC is facing a news blackout today as journalists strike over pensions.
"Managers were scrambling today to put together sufficient resources to provide a "core news service" across TV, radio and online. One insider described the situation as "looking stretched", reports the Guardian.
"Other Radio 4 news programmes expected to go off air are The World at One and PM, although The World Tonight has been pre-recorded. BBC2's Newsnight is expected to fall victim to the strike, and rolling sports and news station 5 Live will also suffer serious disruption. Live news coverage on the BBC News channel is expected to be restricted to an hourly update, possibly as short as two minutes. The rest of the news channel is likely to be filled by repeats. A brief news update will also replace the three main bulletins on BBC1."
Which is a staggeringly unimaginative solution to the problem of losing a few newsreaders for the day.
The country is full of people - journalism students, bloggers, local radio presenters, freelance journalists - who would jump at the chance to spend a day presenting the BBC news and could make a perfectly decent job of it. The merest hint that the opportunity was available, for no reward other than the chance to do it, would have seen the corporation inundated with thousands of offers. It would be a fascinating experiment in crowdsourcing the news, an opportunity to showcase new talent and a far better use of the airtime than what is currently proposed (which is, err, nothing). And I'd watch the channel all day long to see how it went, which is more than I can say for the version that they usually spend my license fee producing.
Sure, the whole thing would have to come with a big health warning that none of the people involved were accredited BBC journalists, it would be a chaotic day and lots of it would go hilariously wrong. But so what? News audiences are smart enough to tell the difference between professional news reporting and an experiment knocked up to deal with a crisis, and to appreciate an experiment in crowdsourcing the news more than a day of dead air.
(Picture from amandabhslater on Flickr)