Tuesday, July 14, 2009

BBC impartiality - shortcomings

Mick's got a good post up showing a co-ordinated bit of citizen-journalism covering 'the Twelfth' throughout Northern Ireland.

In particular, he highlights the problem - a more serious one than most people think, I would venture - of the BBC's model of neutrality and impartiality:
"....the media coverage, on the BBC at least, was possessed of a bizarrely split personality: juddering between tourist board schmalz and an utter distaste for the whole thing. If I were to venture a guess I would say it was less a case of being conflicted than the modern BBC utterly loathing the whole thing within their very hearts and souls. I’ve nothing against Walter Love, but he retired from the BBC years ago as a working journalist. Mark Carruthers’ series of tough questions on Evening Extra last night were all sharp and relevant, and Drew Nelson, one of the ablest men to hold his post of Grand Secretary in modern times, was able to field them with some alacrity.

But you are left with the feeling that at the very least there is a huge emotional vacuum within the BBC. It gave the impression that no one of any ability or talent inside the modern BBC wants to do the job of publicly being nice to the Orange Order. To return to JP’s accute analysis, the Orange Order exists almost entirely as a negative valence in BBCNI’s inner emotional life.

Because the BBC holds a public service broadcasting remit, it has to cover things that perhaps its producers and journalists feel at best ambivalent about, and worst find inimical. It is, to follow Heath, incongruous for the BBC to cover an Orange parade which is not responsible for all the trouble it attracts. And if it does not attract trouble, like the parade in Dromore where demonstrators took their pints in three nationalist owned pubs bedecked with Tyrone flags, it is not news."
The BBC needs to think about this. Pluralism, not impartiality, is what they need. At the moment, even the BEEB's loudest advocates find it hard to argue that the corporation hasn't boiled down into a slightly sloppy liberal mush.

I say 'the BBC needs to think about this...' but all of the signs seem to be that Auntie has allowed itself to become structured in a way that no-one actually cares about it's long-term prospects.

There's one thing I'm fairly certain of: The DG - Mark Thompson - will be being paid far more than he is now by one of the BBC's commercial rivals in five years time.

Like the useless Sir Michael Lyons and his puny BBC Trust, the BBC's staff are no longer prepared to take the kind of decisions that will safeguard the future of the corporation.

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