Sunday, 25 January 2009

The BBC and the Gaza Appeal

The Beeb are getting a bit of a kicking at the moment (again? Good Lord, Groundhog Day!) because they've refused to screen an appeal put together by (I think - can't be bothered checking) 23 aid agencies, contributing to the humanitarian work in Gaza. Their argument is that screening it 'would risk reducing public confidence in its impartial coverage of the conflict'.

Ignoring the fact that they've been shafted somewhat with this one - the main (commercial) terrestrial television channels and Sky initially took the same stance, before backing away swiftly at the first hint of trouble - it seems like a typically BBC mess, borne out of the fact that they try so hard to be all things to all people.

To explain: The BBC uses the word 'objective' to describe its news coverage a lot of the time. Objective, when it comes to journalism, is preposterous. It suggests that the reporters do not have, and are incapable of having, any opinion on the matters which they report on, but merely present the facts as they are.

Even if this were possible - and I'm not going to bother spelling out the subjectivity that comes from the personal interpretation - the thing is that the BBC editorialises all the time, providing commentary and opinion dressed up as fact. You watch a news bulletin - any one - and tell me if I'm wrong.

(Of course, they are not alone in this - fairly much every newspaper in the United Kingdom cheerfully blur the lines between commentary, opinion and fact at every opportunity. But then, they are commercial [not that this makes it any better, but it is an excuse] and the BBC are not)

But this is neither here nor there. It is fun to stick one up the BBC for all sorts of people, for all sorts of reasons, and they are really getting it now. I wonder if they'll back down?

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