Birt noted in his article that in television current affairs there was no appetite to explain and analyse. Instead, TV reported one damned event after another, as one historian wrongly described the writing of history. No connections were made or context explored; pictures drove the story, the so-called human interest story topped others, the vox pop was hailed as giving space to real people and panels of public figures or pundits were put together to provoke wholly predictable clashes.
What he captured particularly well was the wilful misreading of “bias” by the BBC’s critics. There is no conscious partisan bias at the BBC. If journalists want to exert influence to the left or right they do not join the BBC, which is much closer to the civil service in its determined non-partisan approach.
We could do with some bias in favour of understanding, as we could on the other thorny issues of our times: More ambitious peak-time current affairs, longer sequences in some bulletins for a single issue, discussions that are allowed to breathe.
Making sense of the mad surface need not be dull or targeted at an elite audience. It is patronising to assume that only an elite wants to know what is going on and anyway formulaic populism is so boring.
Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.