The BBC is in a bind. The changing media landscape means that news and information must increasingly be presented in a provocative or visually stimulating fashion. Very often the easiest way of doing this is to offer it via the perspective of a celebrity reporter. Next time you’re watching BBC television news, note how little …
Hoping to steer a path down the middle...
..again - thus confirming that the BBC is about as relevant to objective investigation and presentation as MySpace.
This article hits the spot
How many people still get their news via the BBC? I so rarely watch terrestrial that if you want to discuss what is relevant then you need to cut the head off this beast and not the hands.
I'm all in favour of investigative journalism and the issue of impartiality online isn't one that concerns me that much because if you can post it, we (the unwashed masses) can comment on it. If you say "this is how it is" on TV we don't have that option so let's do away with most of the news. I KNOW there's a war on.. stop telling me, I'll read about it on the news, have my say and go home to great BBC drama. Oh wait.. yeah.. tell you what.. scrap that.. let's have MORE NEWS so we don't notice all the repeats and lack of anything worth watching.
I'm waiting for Web 3 where websites will tell you what you want to hear and show you what you want to see based on secure government held information about you. Or someone else depending if they lost your data that week or not.
I don't agree. No-one is going to get it right 100% of the time, but compare the BBC with UK newspapers, or with US news channels.
I do have a problem with the BBCs news reporting, but it isn't one of bias: it's a problem of what news actually *IS*, so I'm pleased to see that they are thinking about that. For me, when BBC News 24 shows 20 minutes of footage from a news conference, that's not news - just cop-out. (Even more so when they show 10 minutes of waiting-for-someone-to-turn-up...) News isn't what's happening as it happens -- its an objective report that makes *sense* of what is happening.
So, for example, when BBC News online did a page on "what to expect" in regard to the recent HMRC data loss, and it turned out to consist entirely of quotes from Alistair Darling, I thought that that was a bit poor -- but what it wasn't was biased, because the page was full of "Alistair Darling said".
.... sucks. I have and always will object to being FORCED to pay for this load of rubbish just because I was born in this country.
Roll on the day a proper set to box arrives where I can OPT-OUT of this "service" instead of having to pay because they believe I use them just because I can.
I recently discovered they also can charge you if you have a mobile phone (presumably because if BBCi WAP). no aspect of modern life if safe from this rip-off!
BBC and news
The BBC's definition of news has always been somewhat suspect. When I was working there in the early 80s the BBC newsroom was essentially driven by stories off the wire service teletypes. The definition of truth was simple: if more than one wire service reported a story, it MUST be true. Of course this ignored the point that in far-flung parts of the world some stringers had retainers from more than one wire service....
The BBC has always been too parochial for my taste, reaching some sort of nadir when, during an Olympics, it reported that a Brit was 3rd in some track event but omitted to say who was first and second. Its a little better now.
Personally, I despise all TV news and most TV current affairs programs. They are all far more concerned with pretty camera angles than with the story. Radio 4 does news & current affairs so much better.
Bias: I'd far rather have news or analysis from a knowledgable but biased source than the usual wishy-washy "balanced views" PROVIDED THAT the author's viewpoint is given as part of the credits. Hearing Tony Benn and Enoch Powell discussing the British constitution was much better than listening to a pair of dry academics would ever have been.
My news sources: I get most of my news from BBC Radio 4, which gives more and better coverage than TV ever has. Apart from that I get my science and technology from New Scientist while my IT and security/privacy come from El Reg.
My Favourite RSS feed is here
welcome to Web 2.0 good buddy
Don't knock the BBC
I hate people who constantly denigrate the BBC. Try watching TV in the USA or anywhere else and you will realise just how good the BBC can be. I live in France and we have to pay a license fee just as in the UK. Granted it is cheaper but you have to take into account that salaries are lower and that they have advertising on the public channels.
In addition the french public channels produce virtually no decent in-house programs and even ruin sports coverage with up to 10 minutes of advertising between halves.
It begs the question if they have so much advertising revenue what are they actually doing with with license fee outside of buying poor quality american imports and if I'm lucky the occasional british series (although dubbed, the horror!).
people in the UK
seem to have little grasp of the respect with which the BBC is viewed in other countries.
Of course, they are typically much more aware of mainstream Beeb 1 or 2, than say World Service, which is a lifeline of information in many places.
For sure, the Beeb has its fair share of excesses and corporate lunacy, and there are also concerns that impartiality of reporting has taken a downturn in recent years. Even so, if you want to see the consequences of scrapping the license fee and making the media a purely commercial concern, take a look at CNN or Fox in the US. No comment.
"Surely the BBC’s most valuable role lies in sticking to its Enlightenment guns, presenting us with facts and information, then being judged on the professionalism of its journalism. Bloggers and amateur reporters actually benefit from credible shared reference points."
This is well put, and makes a good point. But unfortunately, the Beeb absolutely needs a guaranteed source of funding which cannot be easily meddled with by politicians, in order to achieve it. That was the point of the royal charter, and its original 50 year duration helped greatly. Of course, it is now a 10 year one ...
Re: Don't knock the BBC
Echoing the point above, there are plenty of things to knock the BBC for but news gathering isn't really at the top of that list.
The fact that Auntie can produce a public document like the one mentioned in the article, one which intelligently analyses current journalism practices and provokes questions about the very meaning of rational judgment, is something of a miracle to this particular American. I'm more used to the prevailing ethos of NBC, CBS, ABC and of course FOX, all of whom decided years ago that news does not deserve any special treatment and must fight for ratings like any other show. What this has meant is that in the US we are left with 1/2 hr. nightly news reports where the top story will receive four or five minutes at most. (And trust me, it's not because the other programmes are better.)
"Granted, the BBC should not be promoting left-liberal causes such as Make Poverty History"
why not? gives plenty of time over to football which is just advertising for a bunch of large corporations and has fuck all to do with news
"reaching some sort of nadir when, during an Olympics, it reported that a Brit was 3rd in some track event but omitted to say who was first and second."
Dead Belgians don't count. We don't care about disasters round the world unless at least one brit has been killed, then we name them but not the other 195 on the plane. Maybe if news programs stopped having time wasted on "sport" we might be able to care more. oh sorry 3rd place is sports news and I DONT CARE
"In addition the french public channels ... even ruin sports coverage with up to 10 minutes of advertising between halves."
how can that ruin the coverage? its between halves. where soccer fans got for a slash, get another beer, beat the wives and kids etc. Oh you think overpaid twats babbeling over replays is quality coverage?
"I have and always will object to being FORCED to pay for this load of rubbish just because I was born in this country."
nope its because you LIVE in this country and decide to waste your life in front of a box of flashing lights. I'm 2.5 years from owning a TV now and you know what I think I might be smarter. either than or I hate people talking about big brother much more than before.
BBC News online has gone down the bog badly though. I object to "sleb" news appearing on the front page. in teh run up to MI:3, every day had the frontpage with some new midget interest story.
The BBC is OK for occasional Dr. Who episodes, but if it was a subscription-service I wouldn't pay for it.
They seem to fret obsessively about things like "climate-change" and "wealth inequality" while never giving serious attention to business matters. I'll happily pay for a Bloomberg feed... but if the Beeb ever went subscription, well - sorry, no - you're not in my league.
Re: Don't knock the BBC
Anyone who whines about the BBC licence fee should be made to watch American television for two solid weeks.
Then, if they have any shred of sanity left from the constant exposure to inane, shouty commercials, appalling chat shows and the drivel that passes for news coverage on *any* of the major channels (with the notable exception of PBS, the only non-commercial channel), they might re-consider their opinion of the BBC and realise that a tenner a month is actually rather good value.
The BBC has to decide if people are stupid or intelligent.
If the former, then embedded reporters will continue to be interviewed in politically correct terms by talking heads about unverified snippets from dubious sources while spilling the beans in selective fashion, and people will use the internet to find the other side of the coin.
If the latter, then it has to get out of the way and allow disparate points of view to be put by those who hold them, and their narratives aired sufficiently fully so people don't have to use the internet to make up their minds. Since some narratives are more complex and/or harder to put across, it has to jettison its specious simulacrum of a concept of "balance" - which in any case would be irrelevant. (The question of when to pull the broadcasting plug on a narrative might be settled in various ways. One would be to see when it degenerates into tedium, repetition, blatant adversariality, tendentiousness, ad hominem attacks, personality cult, etc).
Mumbling about science, rationality or the postmodern is irrelevant.
Science is no seamless tapestry - discordant theories can be found wherever you look with an unprejudiced eye, and there are also facts which require hand-waving to be performed. Science does not even apparently require logical consistency, since you cannot believe in both quantum mechanics and the theory of relativity and be correct. Neither can it explain why one atom in a lump of uranium underwent decay just now, rather than a different one.
As for rationality, if this is to mean something more than how mental processes proceed in different tribes and tribal areas, it really needs an intellectual overhaul which does not leave reason itself as the privilege of a select few tribes or as a mode of life which one tribe can seek to impose on another. In other words, as Kant saw, but more modern (quotes optional) thinkers (quotes optional) prefer not to, either we all are capable of reasoning in one and same way, or none of us are.
I suspect this premise of the debate is obscured is because it could reveal who the censors of the present really are.
This would be where I would put a title if I thought about it for a while.
Somewhere along the line I got old and started listening to the dedicated news radio provided by OUR "Aunty" - Australias ABC. It tends to stand out from its competition - maybe because of its tendency to also include the less "entertaining" news content. You know, the fire in the bangladeshi orphanage; the coup in the island nation WITHOUT a known population of expats. You still get the odd Paris spotting or Britney update but less often and generally smothered in a healthy dose of shame from the person reporting on it.
Then, "after dark" when, lets face it, ABC News Radio's budget doesnt stretch to graveyard shift love doctors, you get a direct feed from the worlds public broadcasters. BBC World, NPR, the Dutch one (sorry), the German one (sorry). Each basically reporting on the same events, probably from the same sources, but with slightly different spins. Together they make up one of the more enlightening news experiences. Especially, I have to say, from BBC World which seems one of the most inclined to get one of its journalists knee-deep in the action...
Anyhow, I have forgotten where I was going this but anyway, the point is not to blame your news sources, but to get your news from many sources - even if they do all have the same source.. If you are waiting for pure truth to be injected through your earholes in a regulated dose, you will be spending a long time lobes akimbo. Its all chinese whispers spun for fun or profit by aging newsreaders reminiscing about the days of empire or pre-pubescent d-jays trying to be ghetto'er than thou. Its up to the consumer to be discerning - for the emptor to be caveat, as they say in the classics.
..and dont be too hard on the BBC. Sure, it may need some fixing but I would be proud to be associated with much of what comes from the World Service. I find myself finding England far more endearing with its news reports delivered in the measured, thoughtful tone of the BBC World staff from the, often unpleasant, coal face of world news. Sure I am a WASP, but I am also Australian so that is a pretty impressive feat.
Oh and big up to Deutsche Whatsit and Radio Free Nederlander or whatever they are called. They are good too. Love it. Ok. I'm leaving now.
Where can I get that report?
I would like to read it in more detail.
For me, the BBC is the only independant mouthpiece of the truth - I know plenty don't agree, but for me it is. The funny thing is, that outside the UK the BBC is universally respected and held up as the way it should be done - see the earlier posters comments about TV in the US, or France. It is only in the UK that we routinely like to criticise what we have when in reality it isn't deserved....
Except for England last night, who were truly rubbish :-)
Anyone who thinks the Beeb sucks
should eff off to a country where they have a better state broadcasting organisation.....
<tumbleweed blows past>
I'd like the BBC to show a little more spine over the Islamofascists, and the whole "let's doff our caps and tip toe carefully round all religious types" issue, however.
How about giving Pat Condell his own slot, say 15 minutes each night, right after the news, for a brief blast of common sense?
Of course the BBC is respected outside the UK. Its because outside of the UK they don't have to pay a license fee, and only get BBC News 24 and BBC world service (though Dutch cable had BBC 1).
If they had to pay 140 pounds a year for Eastenders and Little Britian, they'd whine about it too.
Public Service Broadcaster
As a public service broadcaster supported by (essentially) tax money, surely its task is provide things which would not otherwise be provided. That's why we have government provide roads, street-lighting, education and health-care - the private sector does not provide these things in the way we believe they should be provided. i.e. we want it, but we don't want to pay.
Surely "public service" and non-commercial means providing broadcasting free from corporate/commercial interest. For news, I don't believe "unbiased" is possible since even choosing which stories to cover introduces bias, but I do expect the news service to report events and to check if and why what other corporations (and I include governments in that) are telling us about these events is a reasonable reflection of reality. "Balance" is important but providing only "balanced" sound-bites is a fools errand and a disservice to viewers - leave that to the Web 2.0 crowd.
Curtis' "the trap" was interesting because someone had actually bothered to research and analyse the topic. Whether or not you agreed with the analysis is almost irrelevant - listening to programme stimulated thought processes and allowed the listener to explore the topic, thinking about what may have been missed from the presentation, what could be disgreed with or what may be correct. I note that this and other insightful TV (e.g. Bremner, Bird & Fortune) have a very strong "radio" quality about it - the visuals support the audio, but are not required appreciate the presentation.
For entertainment rather than news programmes, the requirements are a little different. I want the BBC to take the best and present that. Is Dickens considered one of the best writers by those in his field, then how about producing film or radio productions of his books. How about a survey of various artistic fields? Nature programmes can exploit TV's visual capabilities well and the BBC does them well already. TV will never be able to compete with hollywoods sfx budgets and looks daft when it tries (see the US made-for-tv disaster series that hit the UK a year or two ago) so it needs to rely on something else - ah yes, well written scripts. If you rely on sensory impact rather than thought-based impact, you end up with music videos - change the shot every 1/2 second, include lots of sex and still the audience will be bored if you go beyond 3.5 minutes.
The problems come when trying to ape the commercial broadcasting sector for whom the programming is there merely to support the advertising. Reality shows are more contrived than sitcoms. I don't want to be "engaged with" when all it means is me paying for an extortionately priced SMS message to get a quasi-celebrity (or even a real one) to appear at the same time next week doing the same thing again.
For TV to be good it has to be about something other than itself or the show format. It needs wit and intelligence. It may not be a huge commercial success, but that is why we pay for it with tax. The problem is that neither the government nor any other corporations have any interest or desire for people to actually start thinking about things. A population passively consuming whatever its given is the key to corporate success.
I must be getting old... hat please!
Where would the register be without the BBC website? let's face it half the stories we've already read on bbc.co.uk? :)
So because I don't like or watch the BBC and have something deconstructive to say on the issue I should leave the country? Oh please.. the BBC isn't foreign policy or immigration policy or nuclear policy or any REAL reason to leave the country. It isn't something to get teary eyed and patriotic about, it's an outdated institution funded by tax payers money.
Look at other stations that survive without my licence money.
And for those who say "you should watch American TV" - yeah I mostly do. I flick between hundreds of channels searching for something to watch and it ends up mostly being those "safe humour whilst eating tea with the family" that come from.. oh wait.. America.
You want satirical comedy later on? American. Can't really bring myself to class Little Britain as true satire, too much rings true. Full marks to BBC Documentaries that have gone on to be sold as DVDs and franchised to other countries. My licence money isn't propping them up. Full marks to classic BBC Comedy and Drama that is sold as DVDs and etc...
The problem is, it's a Great British Institution. Like gas and electric and mining used to be. Like public transport used to be. I'd like to see the BBC run privately because I bet they couldn't do it. Then I'd like to see it go back to its roots with a celebrity bypass and fulfil its original charter. Or go out with a bang and do a serious of really biased, offensive documentaries. Brass Eye with Balls.