Thursday, July 26, 2007

The BBC could learn from sceptics

With the news that the BBC is to educate it's staff on how not to tell porky pies to the viewers, I wonder if they will also look into the ethics of whether it is acceptable or not to, if not lie, then be economical with the truth. For example, take a look at this from Private Eye via Biased-BBC.

Simon Fanshawe, who presented the opening programme of BBC1's new Building Britain series two weeks ago, was lavish in his praise for three new skyscrapers that will be erected in Brighton.

One of them was the controversial 40-storey tower that will be the centrepiece of the new marina development. His gushing praise was only matched by his derision for fuddy-duddy conservationists who wnat to preserve the views from all those outdated Regency terraces.

The programme was a public relations coup for Brunswick Developments, the company behind the new marina development. And Brunswick's PR firm, Midnight Communications will be equally pleased. As indeed will the man who chairs Midnight Communications... Simon Fanshawe!

Why neither he nor the BBC saw fit to mention this vested interest is something the corporation's trustees might wish to pursue.

Of course, there is no "lying" going on here, but it certainly is questionable ethically for a presenter to use the publicly funded BBC to champion a project in which he has a clear vested interest.

The trouble is, the BBC is an institution which is, like the rest of the media industry, almost entirely staffed with left wing liberal progressives - and their output reflects the various world views of the liberal progressive agenda. As such, it is a given, to the BBC, that modern and radical (progressive) equals good while old and conservative equals bad. In the eyes of the BBC it doesn't have to be questioned or "balanced" with an alternative view - this is taken for granted.

I don't believe it is deliberate - it's just that they can not see any other viewpoint. It's the same on issues as diverse as the Israel/Arab conflict, immigration and climate change. So many BBC staff start with the premise that certain things are established fact that they simply don't register an alarm bell with them when they come across it any more than they would question whether grass is green.

So it just wouldn't occur to them to think it was a bit odd to hear someone singing the praises of an ultra-modern skyscraper amid the genteel architecture of Brighton. In the hive mentality that dominates the BBC it's as obvious as the sky being blue.

Nevertheless, it would be a good step if, at the very least, the BBC started asking their journalists and reporters to stop taking certain things for granted. Nobody should need to be "educated" about whether it is acceptable to lie or not, but asking them to start treating "facts" which are far from being established as such with a little scepticism isn't too much to ask is it?

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