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Journalism, not 'churnalism'

Kevin Marsh Kevin Marsh | 11:02 UK time, Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Guardian journalist Nick Davies arrives at some damning insights in his new book, Flat Earth News. Many will share his wrath at the "sloppy" and "morally bankrupt" British press - too much of the British press is as bad an anything anywhere else in the world. But he might have come to the right answer for the wrong reasons.

If you haven't caught up with the book yet, the headline to his Guardian article captures one half of his tale crisply: "Our media have become mass producers of distortion", it reads.

The reason, he argues: while the number of journalists on most papers has increased, the space they have to fill has increased even more quickly. Davies reckons the average national newspaper journalist now has to fill three times the space he/she used to... as well as the greedy pockets of owners and shareholders.

Result, he goes on: journalists are now forced to shovel unchecked drivel from PR firms straight onto the page or onto the airwaves - "passive processors of unchecked, second-hand material, much of it contrived by PR to serve some political or commercial interest. Not journalists, but churnalists."

And because journalists don't have the time to do their jobs properly, he argues, - and this is where the threads go ping - some cut corners and resort to snooping, bugging and bin-trawling.

I'm not sure about this route from ‘gradgrind exploitee’, through dereliction of journalistic duty to moral bankrupt - too many newspaper journalists have been too content for too long to run massive moral overdrafts without any pressure from corporate bosses.

It's true that journalists have more time/space to fill - even more, incidentally in 2008 than in 2006, the last year that the Cardiff researchers looked at - and that's a concern for anyone who cares about journalism and what it does.

Clive GoodmanNick Davies is right when he warns against 'churnalism' - news as process... but I just don't believe that the former royal reporter of the News of the World, Clive Goodman, illegally bugged royal phones (and he was not alone in that kind of activity) and went to jail because he and his paper were drowning under the weight of press releases to process.

Nor do I believe pressure to produce is the real reason why too many journalists couldn't stir themselves to check the facts of the Etireno "slave-ship" a few years back or of the Romanian "child traffickers" in Slough a few weeks back. (Though BBC and Guardian journalists did. Both.)

Nor was it why some political journalists connived at becoming little more than the publishing arm of No 10 in the Campbell era.

These are all questions of personal, moral and ethical choices. If a journalist chooses to abandon the principles that all journalists claim to hold (commitment to the truth, independence, acting in the interest of the public) then he or she can blame no-one but him/herself.

BBC newsroomAt the BBC College of Journalism, we place the ethics and values of the trade, along with safeguarding the trust of our audiences, far above any technical or editorial skill... one reason why trust in broadcasting remains much higher than that in the press.

The truth is, too many British newspaper journalists have for too long confused verification with impact, independence with arrogance and the interests of the public with the basest interests of some sectors of the public.

As the respected Guardian veteran and blogger Roy Greenslade describes, most senior, thinking journalists welcome Nick Davies' book as something to be taken seriously. Let's see if journalists - and not just editors - do take it seriously.

The trouble is, though, the British newspaper journalist has no history of taking criticism well... or working out what it is that needs to be done to turn a dysfunctional, distrusted press into something that performs a useful public purpose.

Comments

  • 1.
  • At 04:55 PM on 05 Feb 2008,
  • james reed wrote:

Kevin Marsh concludes by saying that British newspaper journalists are not good at taking criticism, this at the end of a post where he seems to suggest that the criticisms of modern media made by Davies cannot be applied to broadcast journalists, or at least BBC ones. It seems to me the tone of the post demonstrates that the BBC is just as sensitive to criticism as newspapers are.
As for his attack on print journalists for confusing "verification with impact" - this is laughable coming from the BBC, the organisation behind News 24 where presenters breathlessly report "breaking news" without obvious independent verification and where reporters fill hours with speculation as to what may or may not happen later in the day. And who can forget the helicopter used to film the return of the McCanns to the UK?
There are strengths and weaknesses to the Davies analysis but if there is a fundamental problem in the British media then journalists in all media, web, print and broadcast alike, must face up to it.

  • 2.
  • At 05:20 PM on 05 Feb 2008,
  • James wrote:

Hi Kevin

Nick Davies may well be right about print journalists on "Fleet Street". However, I would be wary about drawing too many paralells between what they get up to and what the BBC should be doing.

You are, rightly, held to a completely different set of behavioural and editorial standards than your commercial cousins.

Your charter to operate is granted on the condition, amongst other things, that you meet the needs of the whole population and that you are scrupulously fair and impartial. This is particularly so because of the compulsory nature of the License "fee".

It may make you feel better to look at commercial news journalists and feel superior but the BBC has a huge number of its own ethical problems to solve. Problems that simply don't apply to commercial print journalists.

The BBC's problem is cultural bias and a shocking level of "groupthink". Editorially it is a monoculture and as such it fails to fulfil its side of the Charter "bargain".

I would hope that the BBC College of Journalism is training new recruits to be truly curious about all sides of an argument, to explore issues with a scrupulous fairness and to leave their personal beliefs at the door each morning.

Such a rethink is desperately needed. The state of journalism at the BBC has been corroded by decades of "hiring in our own image". Where are the true iconoclasts? Where are the true anti-establishment young turks - ones who will recognise that the establishment is no longer crusty colnels in Pall Mall but lefty editors in White City?

As long as the BBC continues to be used by its employees as a megaphone and lever for "social change", it will continue to degrade until it is effectively no different from print titles you are so sniffy about.

You could be the generation of managers who saves the BBC or you could be the generation that finally kills it. We will never forgive you if you choose the latter.

Your choice.

  • 3.
  • At 05:25 PM on 05 Feb 2008,
  • Michael Howard wrote:

Although I found this article interesting it smacked of liberal (i.e. BBC/Guardian) bias. The Guardian's reputation in the UK is hardly that of an accurate newspaper. As for BBC impartiality, well a Guardian journalist is going to attack the opposition, but does the BBC need to join in the attack? Where is the balancing comments reporting Guardian inaccuracy against say a News International title's good research?

  • 4.
  • At 05:46 PM on 05 Feb 2008,
  • Damion Roberts wrote:

I agree with most of the points you make. I will add that I think churnalism begins at local newspapers and continues upwards. I should know, I'm a local reporter.
I would have loved to have attended your college of journalism, by the way.

It’s a bit rich for the liberal/left/Guardian-like BBC to lecture other journos about their jobs.

The trouble with the BBC is that its journalists appear to have had no history of taking criticism well... or working out what it is that needs to be done to turn a dysfunctional, distrusted broadcaster into something that performs a useful public purpose.

  • 6.
  • At 07:06 PM on 05 Feb 2008,
  • Paul McGlade wrote:

For a lot of this, the key thing is the word "news".

Watching 24 news channels, you find very little news.

Lots of speculation from on-the-spot reporters about what is about to happen or what may have happened (pending further details)

Lots of stream-of-awareness eye-witness narration when something does happen nearby

Lots of regurgitation of previous speculation

Lots of repetition of the few facts which have emerged

Lots of advertisements dressed up as news - for BBC programmes, or hi-tech gadgets, or Christmas toys whose supply has been deliberately restricted until the last minute

Lots of opinion and pontification from pundits and politicians

Not a lot of news.

Still, it fills up 24 hours nicely.

Actually ... I don't exempt broadcasters from some of Nick Davies' condemnation ... but let's be realistic here: there's the world of difference between the kind of thing you're talking about (James Reed) and the "moral bankruptcy" (to use Nick D's own phrase) of the 300+ journalists who, according to the information commissioner, were involved in snooping just as illegal as Clive Goodman.
Believe it or not, James (2) I don't agree with the oft-quoted Andrew Marr line - Andrew is entitled to his opinion ... but I think he's wrong.
I've been a BBC Editor for twenty five years and I just don't recognise the groupthink/liberal monoculture line. I've seen and fought against many examples of 'groupthink' in that time ... but not the soft-liberal mindset the BBC is lazily accused of. For what it's worth, I've never come across anyone trying to use the BBC as a "megaphone and lever for social change" ... unless you count the couple of committed Euroscptics who used to work for me years ago. Though even they tried hard to leave their personal beliefs at the door ... as you argue (rightly) they should.
Far more frequent and far more corrosive is the very thing Nick Davies warns about ... the journalist herd piling into a story without asking "is this true?"

  • 8.
  • At 08:56 PM on 05 Feb 2008,
  • Matt Phillips wrote:

OK, if you are a good journalist tell me the difference between mean and median.

Why does no-one in the BBC make the dictinction?

  • 9.
  • At 10:14 PM on 05 Feb 2008,
  • Chloe Sanderson (Maastricht) wrote:

I have to concur with Michael Howard #3, how on earth are you allowed to advertise a Guardian journalists book?.

As the Editor of the BBC college of journalism I am amazed that you cannot see how idiotic it is to give this minority newspaper such space in your blog.

The BBC is in dire need of reform, I suggest that rather than only employ ex members of Labour or the Guardian that you try the other 99.9% of eligible employees.

BBC proud of it's impartiality, what a pathetic joke.

  • 10.
  • At 11:28 PM on 05 Feb 2008,
  • s west wrote:

I for one never demanded 'bigger' newspapers and it seems odd that i pay to throw sections of the saturday newspaper straight into the recycle box unread. I distrust much of what i read if the owner also owns a film studio or too as well.

Journalists often fail through lack of time to research anything and literally copy and paste stuff from press releases from one side - Robert Soloway is a good example from last year. That was 100% pure press release in essence trust me as i read the press release.

The other problem is that the journalists little address book came out and when the deadline came the bbc found a person who by no means was an expert but they did do 'telegenic pr person'

Glad that you recognise the issue but fixing it will take a lot of work.

  • 11.
  • At 01:25 AM on 06 Feb 2008,
  • JG wrote:

"Result, he goes on: journalists are now forced to shovel unchecked drivel from PR firms straight onto the page or onto the airwaves - "passive processors of unchecked, second-hand material, much of it contrived by PR to serve some political or commercial interest."

As the BBC does time and time again with 'stories' from it's favoured groups, such as Greenpeace. I mean, you have just had a reporter 'embedded' with Greenpeace. Do you really think they did not know what they were doing when they invited the reporter aboard the ship? They were looking for PR, and they got it in spades.

And that's not even mentioning the NuLab PR that gets regurgitated day after day on this website.

  • 12.
  • At 09:05 AM on 06 Feb 2008,
  • Sarah Wheeler wrote:

Kevin, interesting article. I sometimes think that the BBC still is 'the publishing arm of no 10'.

Stories like this for example don't boost my confidence that the journalist who wrote it did little more than re-publish a no10 press release:

PM's boost for school sports
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/7222880.stm

I don't see any comments about the proposal contained within the article from anyone other than the PM and his Sports Minister. Both, unsurprsingly say this proposal is the best idea since sliced bread. Why no comments from others. Opposition spokesmen? Tories, Liberals? Or perhaps teachers? If you want an example of 'sloppy' journalism, this is it.

If I want to read a no 10 press release, I'll visit the No 10 website. I don't expect the BBC to reguritate propagnda from any political party.

As a long standing BBC employee, perhaps your perspective on BBC journalism is less than impartial?

  • 13.
  • At 10:04 AM on 06 Feb 2008,
  • Gareth wrote:

"Result, he goes on: journalists are now forced to shovel unchecked drivel from PR firms straight onto the page or onto the airwaves"

Physician heal thyself.

  • 14.
  • At 10:21 AM on 06 Feb 2008,
  • Dawn wrote:

It is not just newspaper journalists that are guilty of arrogance Kevin.

Your love in with the Guardian (good journalists) as opposed to your disdain for the News of the World (bad journalists)is clear. This only shows your own prejudices up all the more clearly.

What are your veiws on the journalistic standards at the Telegraph by the way? You don't mention them in your article. Are the standards of their journalism less interesting because they don't fit in with your BBC/Guardian worldveiw?

I often find errors in BBC reports which set my teeth on edge.

I emailed the BBC in September to point out the errors in: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/7020541.stm and they still remain - there is no body called 'Transport of London', there is however one called Transport for London.

Another error made more than once by the BBC in broadcast and online news is the use of the term "Greater London Assembly":

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/1896213.stm
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/1290325.stm
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/1308146.stm
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/1740645.stm
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/2251607.stm
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/6174466.stm
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6504707.stm

There is the Greater London Authority which comprises the Mayor of London and London Assembly. There's no "Greater London Assembly".

Re: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6993713.stm

it's more correct to say the Greens have two members on the London Assembly rather than "two members of the Greater London Authority" - in the same way one doesn't generally refer to members of the House of Lords as Members of Parliament although technically they are.

Then there's the random use of lower and uppercase "M" in Mayor of London and London Mayor. Here your reporter uses both in the same article:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/6712137.stm

Personally I believe the uppercase is the correct form (would you write prime minister, queen, president?) but either way some consistency within a single article would be good.

  • 16.
  • At 02:10 PM on 06 Feb 2008,
  • Alex Swanson wrote:

I've been a BBC Editor for twenty five years and I just don't recognise the groupthink/liberal monoculture line. I've seen and fought against many examples of 'groupthink' in that time ... but not the soft-liberal mindset the BBC is lazily accused of.

That's precisely the point, you don't recognise it or fight it.

Far more frequent and far more corrosive is the very thing Nick Davies warns about ... the journalist herd piling into a story without asking "is this true?"

But - as I've pointed out to BBC staff many times - you persist in left-wing misinformation even when the truth is repeatedly pointed out to you. And it's only ever left-wing stuff. This "herd" mentality never ever results in mistakes being made which accidentally push right wing views.

  • 17.
  • At 09:30 PM on 06 Feb 2008,
  • Liz Smith wrote:

As a regional 'churnalist' I couldn't agree more with Nick Davies observations. In a 24-hour news culture, the British press has become a monster producer of 'distortion,' designed to reaffirm prejudices and shift newspapers, rather than educated and inform.
A 'churnalist' from a popular rightwing newspaper called our newsroom recently asking for information on our immigrant population. I and a fellow reporter fed them a load of rubbish for a laugh and the next day we were shocked to see that what we told them was printed as fact! The journalist/publication didn't even bother trying to attribute the information to one of the paper's so called 'spokesmen.' As a result, I laugh whenever I read a so called shocking expose or report in this 'newspaper.' Unfortunately, however, not everyone has my insider's view of the news machine or the individuals, with ten axes to grind and reputations to build, that power it. The people who suffer at the hands of this ill-informed lynch mob 'churnalism' are the poor, vulnerable and defenceless.

  • 19.
  • At 12:00 AM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • Bedd Gelert wrote:

To Chloe Sanderson I would point out that Private Eye, not a known bastion of dyed-in-the-wool socialists, is also giving space to cover this important book.

Secondly, why do you care what the BBC does ? He who pays the piper calls the tune. She who does not pay the licence fee really has no leg to stand on.

  • 20.
  • At 12:15 AM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • Bedd Gelert wrote:

Dawn - you clearly haven't read the book. Davies covers the example of the Guardian's sister paper the Observer, and the shenanigans going on in the political reporting under Roger Alton.

Flat Earth News is written by a Guardian journalist - but he has everyone in the firing line of his argument, which can only be a good thing if it raises the standard of reporting.

I grant you he reserves special ire for the Daily Mail - but that is nothing to do with being right vs left wing - it is to do with the truly abysmal standards of accuracy and journalistic integrity on that so-called 'news' paper.

  • 21.
  • At 11:35 AM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • james reed wrote:

Thanks for responding to my post kevin. I agree the snooping of the kind that led to the Goodman conviction is wrong and broadcast news journalists have not been found doing the same. But that is not the main thrust of the Davies argument. Rather he is saying that in all media there is now a drive to fill space which places far less emphasis on quality than was previously the case. Hence my questioning of News 24. Here hours are spent with reporters previewing announcements / report publications etc without any obvious insight as to what they will really contain as well as studio-based presenters reading wire copy off computer screens as PA et al file it rather than after it has been checked. That is just as damaging as some of the practice at newspapers - what Davies calls "churnalism".
Paxman recently said: "the problem is that all news programmes need to make noise.
The need’s got worse, the more crowded the market’s become. We
clamour for the viewers’ attention: “Don’t switch over. Watch us! You
won’t be disappointed!” (I confess that making this appeal in the dog
days of August is peculiarly dispiriting. Sometimes you want to sit there
and say, ‘Not much has happened today. I’d go to bed if I were you.’ But,
no, the pretence must be maintained that forty-five minutes’ worth of
discussable material exists.)"
If he can say that about an evening news magazine (newsnight), what does it say about filling a 24 hour news channel?

  • 22.
  • At 02:46 PM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • Adam wrote:

You're absolutely right about most of our newspapers, of course, Kevin. The standard of accuracy is abysmal.

But glass houses, stones, and all that?

Granted, the BBC is much better at factual accuracy that most (all?) newspapers. But that doesn't mean you're beyond criticism.

Let me give you a recent example: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/7204635.stm. You make the unsubstantiated claim that the book was turned down "because it could be offensive to Muslims". OK, that makes a good story, and is much more interesting to read than "the book was turned down because it wasn't very good." But if you look at the Becta website you see that the latter was the real reason why the book was turned down.

This kind of stirring up race hate is the sort of thing we expect of the Daily Mail. But the BBC really should know better.

  • 23.
  • At 05:27 PM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • Michael wrote:

You people at the BBC just don't get it.
When you are accused of liberal-left bias it's not that you all sit around the office thinking "how can we give our reporting a BBC lefty spin." You don't even realise you are doing it.
I bet everyone in your office thinks that for example -Gay Marriage = good, Greenpeace = good, immigration = good, Barrack Obama = good, Big Business = bad, Thatcher = bad, Prison = bad,E.U.= good, American Health Care or Military = bad -and so on.I expect you could give good reasons why most or all of these are true.
The point is everyone with power at the BBC has roughly the same basic views. Therefore all your ouput just assumes ,say, capital punishment is wrong or mult-culturalism is right. But there are millions of people who think the opposite. Even when you report their views you then bring on a liberal pundit to explain why they are wrong.

  • 24.
  • At 07:43 PM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • jhill wrote:

Whatever the rights and wrongs of whether journalists like the book, I looked and failed, to see any comments which reflected the people who buy the papers or pay the licence fee.
Never mind the egos of journos, what about some talk in programmes which let the listeners/viewers have their say about the real world without some sanctimonious person having to comment "Well, while mr jones`s comm ents were quite good, what you really need to understand......"
If opinions from the sharp end were considered, you could fill time with REAL VIEWS from REAL PEOPLE. A bit like those non stop music programmes with continuous music...but instead reflecting the views of people out in the real world....
Still, I won`t hold my breath!!

  • 25.
  • At 09:46 PM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • George USA wrote:

In January 2002 Kandahar Afghanistan a herd of journalists followed the 101st Airborne in when they relieved the Marines.

My son said the UPI print reporters were top notch putting on a ruck, getting the story, writing with a complete knowledge of every aspect of the conflict with profound understanding.

They did this on a shoe string and great professionalism.

Of the photo journalist Martin Savage, really a writer, was excellent, went out in harms way, got the story, got it right, and communicated the story of the troops as well as events.

The rest of the herd, were "feeding the beast", coming up with anything to say they could think of the be catchy on TV, essentially no journalism, no reporting, just a minute or two of video with some ridiculous remarks.

As our print media stopped sending reporters abroad, and CNN finds talking heads more profitable, what did you expect?

  • 26.
  • At 12:00 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • James Reed wrote:

A brief final observation to underline my point. Last night at around 9.30pm News 24 reported problems with the Space Shuttle as debris had been seen falling off during launch by witnesses - cue presenters speaking in concerned tones over images of the launch on a loop. 20 mins later NASA said there was no problem.
What was that about confusing verification and impact? As Adam (22) says, glass houses, stones and all that.

  • 27.
  • At 04:20 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Xie_Ming wrote:

One of the strong points of the BBC is this publishing of this set of responses.

What is here often called "bias" is simply the fact that the media individual is not aware that another view of reality may be valid. I suggest that, usually, it is unconscious on the part of the reporter.

I ask that one "examine the unstated premises", but I wonder if anyone knows what I am talking about!

You may well be alarmed at UK papers. However you do not have the worst media. In Australia the media is 10% news,45% sport, and 45% adverts.The TV stations have 50% programme and 50% adverts.Any complaint and the answer is"You do not have to pay fo it" But indeed youdo, the cost of advertising is put upon the price of the goods.The world of advertising must have increased enormously with the advent of TV,radio ect.What do you think of all this advertising?

  • 29.
  • At 01:52 PM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • JD wrote:

I wonder how many journalists have pointed out untruths and inconsistencies to their newsdesks only to be told to write it regardless.
I'm sure I've not been alone in this but where do we go for support? To my mind, being forced to file copy that does not meet the standards to which a journalist is dutifully pledged, is tantamount to dismissal because it makes our skills redundant.
I feel most journalists long to exercise the integrity instilled in them during their training, but in reality their boss’s pie-encrusted finger points at them menacingly as they bellow the words “Remember I’m in charge of you”.
I say this because newsrooms and kitchens, possibly the last bastions of the bully, appear to have been granted an opt-out clause of the rules governing acceptable employee treatment in the UK.
Furthermore, if a paper’s senior management take a 'political decision' to follow one line of reporting over another, or to censor reporting of an issue, the journalist has no recourse.
Ultimately, their continued employment depends on doing exactly what they are told.
A true journalist, like Paul Foot, would tell the boss to stick the job. He did this, according to details in an article whcih I can’t independently verify right now, when editor David Banks (allegedly) refused to publish one of Foot’s investigations.
http://politics.guardian.co.uk/politicsobituaries/story/0,,1264893,00.html
Apparently Footie walked out with photocopies of the story and handed them to people on the street, thereby abruptly ending his Mirror career.
It’s hard to imagine a reporter doing this now but I’m living (unemployed) proof that journalists are still capable of that level of integrity.
Perhaps we could use this BBC forum to sow the seeds of an independent council that would provide assistance and support for journalists who find themselves in this position.
I certainly could have done with it. In my opinion; the NUJ fell woefully short in this area.

  • 30.
  • At 02:32 PM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Chloe Sanderson (Maastricht) wrote:

To Bedd Geelert,

Just to correct your assumptions, you must be a BBC Journalist to not check your facts first...I do pay my license fee, I happen to work in Maastricht and come home to the UK at weekends.

So go away you silly man and learn to stop making false claims.

  • 31.
  • At 03:12 PM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Tony Ferguson wrote:

Regarding the comments about churning out unverified stories I have a related comment.

As a scientist (physicist) I am becoming increasingly worried about the depth of science coverage in the news. It all seems to be shallow and to come from press releases (I surmise this because I see the same stories in the newspapers). I feel there is no depth of knowledge here and perhaps, as the space for news has grown, you have lost something in your science coverage. I shall not mention names but I do not get the feeling on the rare occasions I see or hear a science reporter that they know what they are talking about. Certainly in my subject they make elementary gaffs.

In the 90's I think it was better so what has changed BBC?

Perhaps Mr Marsh could look into it.

  • 32.
  • At 10:35 PM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Stephane Gourguechon wrote:

Kevin Marsh wrote here a most outstanding editorial. Refraining from "sensationalism" is a true measure of good journalism. Living in the US, non-sensationalist reports from the BBC are a breath of fresh air compared to the US media. I do not share the concerns about the arrogance of journalists, for good media companies must be staffed by experts and any expert, in any field, has to have a measure of confidence in his judgement. I do applaud the remarks about letting journalists carry out their jobs without pressure from editors to artificially inflate the volume of news reports.

I do love the way corporations practise business but media is something they have messed up. A free market ought to produce the best in the long run, but best, in this case, is being decided by the intellectual level of the mass --not a reliable indicator says I. This is the reason why we are observing a slump in the quality of journalism everywhere –from India to the U.S. And a rotten cabbage rots others around it –I have observed that even BBC has suffered from it, a little I might add with emphasis. I still tune into BBC world regularly for updates on global events.

Here in India, situation is even worse. News channels cover stuff like the death of pigs in the locality and show them with the kind of polish we expect from the corporate. The national cricket team's forthcoming match or the latest bollywood love affair deserves more attention than people being killed in Iraq. Quality board room discussions like the "Hard Talk" have disappeared from the scene over here. The only news channel I now watch is the national news channel. But since it is government controlled it does show a slightly distorted view of the political affairs but on other occasions it reports the fact as they stand. No wonder people like us have switched to the print media –at least some of them still report the truth.

  • 34.
  • At 08:19 AM on 10 Feb 2008,
  • Ruth Jones wrote:

What disappoints me is that there seems to be no place for reasonable debate of issues. There is antagonism and sensationalism instead of objective discussion. People placed on a particular 'side' of an argument. The recent misrepresentation and furore over the Archbishop's comments is a case in point - the only way for me to find out what he actually said was to check out the transcript of his lecture and interview (something it seems many journalists/commentators have not bothered to do). That story has been badly reported by the BBC - perhaps because of the pressure to fill a certain amount of space instantly? But this again reminds me not to trust anything I read in the news.

  • 35.
  • At 10:57 PM on 10 Feb 2008,
  • Tom Allen wrote:

The whole coverage of the Rowan Williams + sharia story is a case in point - and sadly the BBC is among the worst - witness "calls for resignation from General Synod" line taken by BBC on-line - in fact TWO members of General Synod have been quoted in an none too informed way. There is no general call from the Church at all - we just wish that journalists would read what he actually said rather reporting what other reporters said that he said. Churnalism at its worst and the BBC is not much different.

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