25 October 2006

BBC: now some tranquilizer

Helen Boaden, director of BBC news, addresses or, rather, tries to address the accusations of bias. It is significant that, instead of using the big guns at her disposal - an editorial or an article on the main site, she chooses instead the low profile Editors blog. Hardly the caliber matching the artillery used against BBC, but so be it.

So what are the points of contention Ms. Boaden found necessary to counterattack?

  1. There was no "official" admission of bias of BBC by BBC, she claims - the quotes of Andrew Marr and Jeff Randal are no more than their personal opinion. The answer is a poor attempt to wiggle out: after all, aren't Andrew Marr and Jeff Randal loyal enough to BBC and part of the establishment? Why disown them so suddenly?
  2. The mere use of the poll on BBC truthfulness is a feint, poor at that. An experienced newsperson, Ms. Boaden cannot ignore the fact that the other side of the coin was not questioned: whether BBC is telling the whole truth? In any case, being truthful (partially or not) does not equal being unbiased, and I am more than sure that Ms. Boaden is fully aware of this. Falling back on the poll re truthfulness is another unsuccessful maneuver.
  3. "The situations aren't real; the discussions aren't binding and they certainly don't define BBC policy." Another feint: the people present who, when discussing a hypothetical situation with Ali G. throwing some cult objects into a dustbin, agreed they could all be thrown into the bin, except the Koran for fear of offending Muslims - these same people will prevent it from happening in any BBC production. It is so painfully clear to all, so why even try?
  4. "The seminar was part of a bigger project kicked off by Michael Grade earlier this year to re-examine the underlying principles of impartiality in the digital age when boundaries between conventional broadcasting and the new platforms will increasingly disappear." I have tried to give my best to this quote. No matter how much good will I poured on it, it stubbornly remained in my eyes what it, most probably, is: a dose of meaningless tranquilizer. What the heck does impartiality have to do with the nature of the media used? Is digital bias significantly different from the analog one?
But all the points above pale into insignificance compared with the main question: why this lighthouse of impartiality (according to Ms. Boaden) fights so fiercely (and expensively) against the publication of the Balen report? Isn't the free uninhibited flow of information one of the principles of free and impartial press? For some obscure reason Ms. Boaden does not mention this confusing fact.

All in all - poor show, Ms. Boaden.

Cross-posted on Yourish.com