Herald journalist’s invective shreds inept BBC

Herald columnist, Iain Bell, has a compelling piece in today’s [7th September]  edition of the national newspaper, effectively stripping the BBC to the underpants Jeremy Paxman admitted were no longer up to standard.

In summary, Iain Brown castigates the national public service broadcaster for:

  • incessantly lifting stories from the press – and of making news from ‘a vox pop in Arbroath’;
  • filling airtime by having ‘hacks’ interviewing each other;
  • failing to interrogate its culture of going easy on Labour;
  • having a craven attitude to government;
  • embedding an ‘institutionalised elitism’;
  • being complacent and patronising;
  • ignoring the issues around Scottish independence;
  • failing on each one of its historic purposes, to ‘educate, inform and entertain’.

Bell describes the BBC, with precision, as ‘spayed during the Iraq dodgy dossier row’.

He questions the calibre of its journalism. He mocks its reliance on appearance over substance.

He defends with vigour the BBC’s comfortable certainty that ‘print is dead’ and in a blazing final paragraph he says:  ‘Print is liable to outlive public service broadcasting for a simple reason. Those of us who still gum things to a dead tree gloop do not take the world, or our wages for granted. We are not entitled.  It’s a thought to remember. My BBC chums can lift that too, if they like’.

This his been the most invigorating read for ages – a scorchingly dismissive rant at an outfit and a service overdue for dismissal.

Iain Bell doesn’t like Sky – but there we would differ.

Other addicts of Sky News’ late press reviews each evening will be as respectful as we are of the calibre of ‘presenters’ like Anna Botting – hugely well informed across the spectrum, able to engage with the news and with the guests reviewers on the hoof as the front pages come in. Steve Dixon is another first class news presenter [now on Sunrise], as are pretty well all of the late team.

Men or women, they pay no attention to what they look like on air. They focus on the job they have to do and on doing it well – not performing it but delivering it.

The BBC – nowhere in its programming – has anyone to match these guys. Fiona Bruce smirking at the camera and posing for it is a narcissistic girl guide on placement.

When big stories break, Sky is where to go. And although online is the only place to be today, nothing can replace the newspaper and its analogue format where a straying eye is as well fed as a focused one.

The heart of Iain Bells diatribe is in its title: ‘Losing our trust will bring about the BBC’s downfall’. It has already done that.

It lost our trust back there on the spaying table Bell describes so aptly. All it has done since then is scatter what was left.

Watching lazy self-regarding bullies like Chris Patten expecting, as of right, not to be questioned in his meandering evasions and deceptions is indicative.

Looking at the people they appoint as their senior executives has for a long time now been the measure of how adrift the institution has become.

Then there was Savile.

And they never did change that dreadfully uninformative and worse – confusing weather map. They knew it was good, you see.

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13 Responses to Herald journalist’s invective shreds inept BBC

  1. Sky News? I rate Russia Today higher and even that’s pretty awful. The only thing TV news channels are good for is headlines, if you want insight and background you have to go fishing in the murky waters of the internet. The endemic habit of reporters interviewing each other rips my knitting, all the channels do it and it grates hugely.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

    • Generally we would not disagree – but watch Andrew Pearce and Kevin Maguire with Anna Botting late on Monday nights – from 10.30pm.
      And this supports Iain Bell’s defence of newspaper journalists because most – not all – of the late night Sky reviewers are press journalists.
      In terms of on the ground reporting of developing events, the BBC is nowhere near as good as Sky, though.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4

  2. Bell and you are dead right, I’ve stopped watching their news coverage altogether and now refer to them as the “BBTwee”.

    To be fair the Scottish people are generally quite good, notably, on Scottish Newsnight which is far ahead of the rubbish we now get on the English version. Andrew Neill, another ex-newspaper man, is outstanding.

    The “BBTwee’s” slavish devotion to “the threat of climate change” is a case in point, What finished me with them was when they arranged for a woman in a white coat to carry out a primary school science experiment with an audience of “ordinary people” supervised by former government chief scientific adviser Sir David King, the objective being to convince them that “climate change” is man-made.

    They were then invited to express their doubts to the former science mandarin like schoolchildren being visited by the headmaster.

    Head Boy Gavin Esler then got to venture a few judiciously chosen show questions to the “Head” who waxed self-indulgently at length on each one without addressing a single objection to climate alarmism.

    Talk about “jumping into bed with government”, I have never felt so sickened by a tv programme.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

  3. Yesterday the BBC Radio 4 news headlined the survival of an elderly Strathlachlan resident trapped in his car for three days when he left the road and landed in the river just north of Loch Eck; I don’t know what BBC Radio Scotland said about this, but so far the BBC’s Scottish News web page has nothing – and I associate this with the weekend, when the BBC Scottish news website seems to go into semi hibernation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  4. All of Ian Bell’s work is compelling. He is a real journalist. There are not many of those around, especially here where “news” can be invented. He is also very accurate about the BBC being neutered after the questions about “dodgy dossiers” and the Hutton Inquiry, which was a farce. That cover-up effectively ended serious investigative journalism by the BBC, especially where it was politicians who were being investigated. The BBC were afraid to stick their neck out after that and blundered from crisis to crisis without direction, but adhering to the Government line. They are now no more than the voice of the UK government and this is very obvious in their coverage and bias in the Independence debate, as much by omission as inclusion.
    There are now many different news channels to choose from but, like the BBC, they all have an agenda to pursue. Each news item has now to be analysed and assessed according to which channel you are watching. For example, during the Iraq war, I was sceptical about Al Jazeera’s ability to be neutral. After the US Army tried to kill their journalists by shelling their hotel rooms with tanks, I reckoned they must be doing something right. For a world view, they are excellent. None of the “how will this affect the UK?” and more of how this will affect the people involved. The news is reported as news and not as political propaganda. The BBC should take note, as should “Newsie”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 3

  5. I’m an Al Jazeera fan too, however I also find this website excellent as it gives me up to date news across most of Argyll and Bute along with access to read other opinions and express my own.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

    • There is a distinction between arriving at and taking a position – and being biased. There is also a distinction between being opinionated – and being biased.
      We come to positions – we work hard to come to positions and we show the evidence for them. This is our declared editorial policy. It does make us opinionated – but on evidence – and this is balanced by our open policy on readers’ comments.
      Bias is a’pre-position’ adopted in advance of considering evidence – or in place of considering evidence. We don’t recognise this in our own process – and we do go in for a fair bit of navel gazing.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  6. Michty me! The BBC isn’t perfect, and Iain Bell’s comments certainly ring true – especially the ‘vox pop’ one.

    But heaven forfend that it should ever go down and leave us to the tender mercies of the ‘Murdochracy’.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

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