Monday, 24 May 2010

Guardian Journalist Praises The Guardian - And The BBC

Nick Davies, a quick bit of Wiki-ing reveals, is a 57 year-old Oxford-educated, Mirror-trained, former Guardian and now a freelance journalist who contributes to the Observer. He wrote a book a few years ago much loved by some of his peers in the professional media called Flat Earth News that basically rubbished 76% of journalism in the United Kingdom and beyond (he was that precise) . I'm not going to plug it. I thought its basic premise was weak (pretending that the underlying purpose of journalism, particularly newspaper journalism, is some sort of crusade for originality and not merely to sell news, recycled or otherwise, is ridiculous and naive). I also thought it was boring and did not finish it.

Anyway, the upshot of his interview this morning on Radio 4 was, simply, that having gratefully been given the chance to plug once more his dated tome, he merely repeated his feeble assertion (now equally dated) that only the Guardian and the BBC do real news. There was no alternative view in the interview, just some American fembot from the Washington Post giving almost exactly the same views, but in 'Murcan. I nearly blew my horn in disgust (see how mad I was?). Aside from the fact that the BBC hasn't broken an original story in, I would say, oh 26 years ( that would have been the Ethiopian famine in 1984), its journalist standards are non-existent. It does not so much report news, vastly over-resourced and over-staffed thanks to its generous taxpayer-funded budget though it is, as filter it through a BBC lens, which itself can be broadly deconstructed into three primary layers: obsessive Political Correctness, social statism and left wing political orthodoxy. There are other layers, such as climate change orthodoxy, but while they are just as significant in how they form the BBC's editorial stance and its recruitment policy, they are secondary ones. And woe betide anyone who does not toe the BBC line, and who has slipped through the recruitment sieve. They will not be working there for long (pack your bags Andrew Gilligan and Jeff Randall. You're fired!). The Guardian is sort of the newsprint arm of the BBC. The less said about it, the better. I'm surprised it doesn't think it's entitled to state funding, just like its TV sister, the Beeb. Perhaps it does!

There are one or two other things to say about the Graun, actually. Compare and contrast, for instance: in 2009, with the expenses scandal, the Daily Telegraph broke the biggest story of the decade bar none. All its many stories - and there were dozens - were sourced from completely original material - the most original you can get as a matter of fact: raw data. The Telegraph's expert, highly professional coverage then rocked parliament to its very foundations, and rightly so, and very nearly brought down a government. It has led to six prosecutions so far, and rising, and the retirement of scores of MPs. This story, which drove the entire news cycle for nearly two months - and still is to a certain degree over a year later - has to all intents and purposes changed the political face and historical direction of the United Kingdom, perhaps forever. It could well have saved parliament from permanent and long-term decline and forced a new government to ring the changes and call time on the last rotten government's (whom the BBC and the Guardian supported) institutional corruption, venality and dishonesty. What the Telegraph achieved there was not just a spectacular piece of classic scoop journalism a la Watergate, complete with their own Deep Throat, they did this country a service on a scale that will not be repeated for a long, long time. I wonder what kind of a dent that put in Nick Davies' bravely unverifiable "statistics".

And now, by comparison, let's ask what the Guardian did in 2009 to further the cause of investigative journalism which, one assumes, is not driven by any political agenda. Ah yes, it tried to get Andy Coulson fired from his new job because of something he wasn't responsible for (a court said) in his old one, glossed over the Damian Green arrest, virtually ignored the other big scandal of last year (Climategate) - or tried to spin it away - and spun around like a headless chicken editorially as it tried to work which loser to back. The BBC did much the same thing, though in its case it's unnecessary to come out and actually back someone or misreport stories it doesn't like. Oh no. It can be far more cunning than that with its spin. Its editors can simply cover what they feel like covering, invite whatever guests they like on talk shows to gloss over distasteful 'badthink' news, ignore political stories that might place the Tories in a favourable light and emphasise ones that might not, and do the reverse for their buddies in the Labour party. They can manipulate public opinion by generating it (do you know how easy it is to splice together four punters in the street saying they agree with something and leave out the four dozen who said they didn't?) and they can be openly hostile or dismissive of anything or any one they don't like (like the Israelis). Simply put, they test the limits of what they think can get away with all the time, everywhere. And believe me, they can get away with a hell of a lot.

I've hardly scratched the surface. But now, I hope, you can at least see why I thought Nick Davies' nonsensical comment on the BBC, about the BBC and the Guardian and journalism generally, was worth a mention. Whatever his journalistic credentials - and he is well-regarded by his colleagues from across the spectrum of the MSM apparently - he is not very honest and he's not at all right.

Still, though, I suppose we can let him off. He was only trying to sell his book, after all.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Any thoughts?