Monday, September 19, 2005

Balance and the BEEB

Everyone seems to be debating the balance of BBC reporting these days.

A lot of the same people get very worked when Bush / Blair / Israel get singled out for criticism. Calling Guantanamo a 'gulag' is - indeed - wildly disproportionate.

But the reasons that pressure groups use such hyperbole about democracies is because hyperbole can change the way democracies behave. Amnesty knew they were wasting their time running up petitions to protest against the pre-2003 conditions in Abu Ghraib.

I'm not defending the lack of proportion. It would not be fair to cast me as a defender of our dozy pressure groups. I'm just comparing this lack of proportion with the sense of proportion shown by the BBC's critics.

By volume, the BBC is the most consistantly reliable news source anywhere in the world. It sometimes catches colds from the wider cesspit of journalism. But it is the only news source that offers any real level of accountability. It's orientation is constantly debated. It was decapitated last year in a row over it's reporting.

It's also the only one that makes a real substantial investment in the quality of it's journalism. Imagine being able to call the editor of the Daily Hell to account for anything in his pages. Or any of the other shit-sheets that pass for newspapers in this country (poss. exception - the FT).

I've nothing to add to Pierre Bourdieu's views on TV journalism in general. When I'm installed as chairman, I'll sack all of their celebrity reporters -Jeremy Paxman, John Humphries and their ilk. But I'm bored of the way that everyone singles out the BBC. When you do, you join the dark side.

(Footnote: the Biased BBC site is trumpetting a story about product placement at the BBC. The source? The SUNDAY FUCKING TIMES of all places. Eye Sky with My Little Eye... and all that.)

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