Ah, I always wanted to pretend to be an academic...
Two of the places I went to yesterday on my broadcast frenzy were the BBC World Service and Al Jazeera. Both times, I was initially contacted by a personable, knowledgable and enthusiastic young researcher, who subsequently met me at reception and guided me to my seat (although in Al Jazeera's case I got to the studio with 45 seconds to air, so it wasn't so much guidance as active propulsion).
One researcher was blonde, Northern European and garbed in the kind of High Street togs preferred by the fashionable female about town; the other was in hijab and jilbab, so I can't speak as to her hair colour. What could say more about the monocultural tendencies of broadcasters - especially given that the latter was at the BBC, and the former at Al J. (*)
Al Jazeera in the UK turns out to be a very interesting channel. I haven't seen enough of the programming to say anything about the quality, but the studios are probably the best equipped out of them, Sky and News 24. They're also in the poshest place - News 24 is in White City, and Sky's out even further in the West London badlands. Al Jazeera's address? 1 Knightsbridge, next door to the Lanesborough. The place is riddled with the better class of TV journo, and everyone seems quite ridiculously happy to be there.
Talking about it afterwards to friends, there are two opinions: it's a front for the global Caliphate, or it's doing a good job in a different way. People hold one of those two depending on whether they've seen it or not. This time, perhaps, it's easier to guess which way around that goes.
(*) It is inexcusable that I don't remember their names, but I still forget those of close family members. Please, even if you've known me for twenty years, have a business card to hand.