Thursday, 22 August 2013

Stacey Dooley Investigates: Journalism-lite docos for people who probably don't watch Dispatches


Plucky young BBC Three reporter Stacey Dooley, from Luton, is an international investigative journalist and makes a living visiting different parts of the world and reading out the script of her producer.

But to criticise young Stacey's sincere efforts is like kicking a defenceless puppy - a defenceless puppy with its own film crew making hour long documentaries about drug trafficking, that is; and our Stace is so likeable in her journalism-lite documentaries, circumnavigating the edge of serious issues in a simplified way, that it's inevitable you warm to her personally if not as a reporter.

Most recently she's been looking at the drug problem in Thailand and in Peru, and how drugs are basically like really bad but it's not that simple, and how she can't help but think that there's no sign of anything changing anytime soon so she may as well just go home.

That's basically Stacey's conclusion to each of the recent run of documentaries, but, at a guess, the conclusion is not the point - see it as more like an opportunity to watch Stacey, a sort of everyday representative of BBC Three's intended 18 - 30-year-old viewer, raise a bit of awareness about something Very Serious that might otherwise be ignored by people who might be tempted to try drugs but who don't watch Dispatches.

Stacey Dooley Investigates:
Posing in a camel-coloured leisure shirt in a field of cocoa plants
And Stacey also generally gets to carry out the following: 1) empathise with some victims, 2) get politely stern with people who touch the camera, and 3) be humble with authority, while not speaking the language but really just hoping for the best.

It's about the journey, here, rather than the destination.

Throughout the adventure, our Stace repeatedly explains what's just happened, or what's about to happen, and is unafraid to give her apparently thought-up-on-the-spot opinion rather than be the neutral, observational journalist you might expect. But most perplexingly, she directs her speech to some unidentified individual just to the side of the camera as if she's a participant rather than the reporter.

It's probably meant to help shape it all into a story, or to make it look like it's her natural and unrehearsed reaction from honest Stacey.

But instead you want to ask, beg, plead: WHO ARE YOU TALKING TO? And also, DID YOUR PARENTS SIGN A CONSENT FORM FOR YOU TO BE IN THE JUNGLE WITH PEOPLE MAKING DRUGS?

Alarmingly for us, her now loyal audience, and for Stacey - who despite looking 18 is actually 26 - she seems a bit oblivious to the dangerous places she's being taken to, which, when you start worrying about the health and safety implications for a programme's participant, as she hides behind soldiers armed with machine guns who are liberally dousing petrol around a jungle-based drug den before setting it alight, probably indicates that perhaps this show really isn't doing its job - or maybe that tv-ooh should really just be watching Dispatches. Stacey's show's more fun though.

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