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It's never just 'bad news' first

Jeremy Hillman Jeremy Hillman | 13:34 UK time, Saturday, 21 February 2009

I've just watched the BBC's Newswatch on my laptop, catching up as I do at the weekends with bits of the output I haven't been able see during the week. (In fact I saw the link to it on Twitter, another subject handled by Newswatch this week).

One of issues mentioned by Ray Snoddy was the number of audience comments asking why the website's top story on Monday 16 February was about the 850 jobs being lost at BMW's Mini plant at Cowley, whilst the smaller story just underneath was the creation of 9,000 jobs by KFC.

Some have taken that as proof we are always keener to report and highlight the bad news. In fact we had a detailed editorial discussion about this on Monday and I believe we made the right choice on journalistic grounds, though I can fully see the argument both ways.

The jobs being created by KFC are over a three to five-year period, the jobs being lost at Cowley were immediate and entailed stories of human pain and shock. The wider story of the car industry, and the political debate surrounding it, was deemed by us to be more newsworthy at this moment than the also interesting phenomenon of "value" food chains doing pretty well in the recession (McDonalds has also had a good story to tell recently).

In the end we had to make a judgement call, but it's never just a case of us deciding to put the "bad news" first.

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  • Comment number 1.

    Jeremy, I've already asked this on the BBC's technology blog. You mention Twitter. Does Twitter own the data posted on it by BBC staff and what is BBC policy on staff posting content on Twitter? Newswatch did not cover these points, it just discussed using Twitter as a quick substitute for the real world which I thought very depressing. There are a few of us who are not going to conduct conversations on a platform that has yet to inform us what it intends to do with our content.

  • Comment number 2.

    Jeremy, when I first saw this on Newswatch my initial reaction was along similar lines to yours.

    The fact that KFC's jobs are being created over a long timescale (and could just as easily be scrapped or scaled down if things change) is always going to be trumped by immediate job losses, and their immediate effects.

    However your subsequent use of the phrase "and entailed stories of human pain and shock" in this post was a very poor choice indeed - and one which has weakened your argument.

    Cynics will now jump all over the Beeb's stance, because it actually looks to back up their views that you sided with the story because of its "bad news" nature and the fact that grief sells.

  • Comment number 3.

    There's no comparison. 850 jobs in manufacturing gone, reasonably well-paid, in an area synonymous with motors for decades. Most people losing their jobs will probably be family men aged 30-50 with mortgages and bills to pay. A real tragedy.

    As opposed to the possible (it's only an intention at the moment) creation of 9000 jobs in a fast-food chain. £5-something an hour, no perks and usually done by recently-arrived immigrants, students or school-leavers who last 6 months and then move on. Even the store managers are about 25. These are not comparable with the "real" jobs lost at Cowley.

    And how many of the new KFCs will put small independent cafes or burger bars out of business, leading to no net job gain anyway?

  • Comment number 4.

    And the reason the higher than expected retail sales figures was consigned to the side bar for most of the way was...?

    I noticed the BBC Tweeter feed highlighting the gloom stories yesterday but not seemingly mentioning the retail sales one.

    The BBC has an obsession with the bad news and the pundits who bring it.

    Also I can't help but notice that rarely, if ever, do stories which feature views from pundits employed by million pound and dollar loosing banks qualify their remarks by pointing out how poorly their own employers have done despite their sage thoughts.

    Plus, every single negative story is reported while anything positive (higher than expected retail or house sales) is brushed off as a fluke.

  • Comment number 5.

    How many of these KFC jobs are on basis of projected new franchises rather than direct KFC investment?

    Not much by way of news if its merely some PR from KFC, released in the hope of attracting folks who are concerned about their current job security to the idea of setting up one of their franchises

  • Comment number 6.

    [the jobs being lost at Cowley... entailed stories of human pain and shock]

    [it's never just a case of us deciding to put the "bad news" first]

    Some contradiction there, surely?

  • Comment number 7.

    I can understand why many people would think that the creation of 9000 jobs should overshadow the loss of 850 elsewhere (although quite what is driving the need for further jobs in the fast food sector right now is beyond me when people are supposedly less inclined to go out and spend). As has been pointed out by kenromford there is a significant difference in the quality of the jobs being created to those being lost

    I feel it is significant reflection of our economy that people feel pacified by the creation 9000 new, poorly paid and unskilled, jobs as our skilled manufacturing sector continues to decline still further. We have moved from a nation of innovators to become a nation that is reliant on the service sector to facilitate our economy (think call centres). We really out to be ensuring the skilled sector does not erode still further because this will have a continuing long term effect on our economy. Look at how many car firms are british(sic) owned.

    It is another example of the shortsighted approach to dealing with the current economic climate. This government rushed through the merger of Lloyds and HBOS, in the face of competition laws, which will no doubt have a longer term negative effect on the consumer. And yet despite this HBOS is still in the proverbial muck and is in danger of dragging Lloyds down with it too, potentially creating even bigger employment woes. Still we can all be satisified as taxpayers that we will be shareholders in a failing bank...

  • Comment number 8.

    I agree these two are not equivalent.

    However, I have been interested to hear two or three 'business is better than in January' comments from people at the sharp end recently.

    If you reported such comments often enough, could you precipitate an increase in confidence???

    The BBC have selectively reported other things in the past. What would be the ethics of selectively reporting (true) positive incidents to deliberately try and acheive a good consequence?

  • Comment number 9.

    It was obvious why losing jobs at Mini was the more important headline. The job losses are happening NOW !

    The 9,000 new KFC jobs are all very splendid, but they are not happening now. The statement is simply a declaration of intent, with the new jobs being created over the next year, or two or three, or perhaps never.

    After all the recession has still a long way to go !

  • Comment number 10.

    I fear that your pain and shock comment gives the game away..Since at least the Gothic Age that started at the end of the eighteenth century with the discovery of market for shock horror and the vicarious imagining of pain, all forms of media and arts have learned to exploit the power of the negative and the bad.

    I thought things were bad enough, but I felt that journalism sank to a new low when a young man was recently interviewed having had to phone his parents on holiday in Florida to tell them that his sister might have been one of the fatalities on a plane crash.. "How did they take it?" asked a journalist. !!!

  • Comment number 11.

    Interesting to read a justification to cover bad news first. Actually I hadn't realised you ever covered good news! The worst enemy of this country is our media. If they can find something bad to say, they do!

  • Comment number 12.

    The views of the BBC and most other news organisations on this are remarkably inconsistent. If you counted up all the headline bad news stories and all the headline good news stories you'd over any period you'd find that the bad news vastly outnumbers the good news. If this were a true reflection of life today then this would essentially mean that that everything is slowly getting worse. I don't believe that is the case. The problem is that we have fallen into a habit of habitual criticism of most things that go on. You only have to see any interview on Newsnight or most news programmes to see that the whole culture is based on finding fault instead of praising the good. The is not healthy for society, and in direct contradiction (thankfully) to how were are encouraged to teach children. We all need to focus on growing the good rather than obsess on the "bad".

  • Comment number 13.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 14.

    I can't say that I care at all about news order, except I suppose it's fun to end on a more humorous note. What is important is the balance. When compared to newspapers the beeb does a pretty good job of staying neutral, not always of course, but then who does?
    I've noticed over the years the increase in speculation and immediate responses. The former isn't news and the latter is substitution for not printing genuinely shocking photographs that might demand a public response for real changes.

    Towering, however, over all news items are the programmes like 'natural world' which last night exposed the massive imminent problems in agriculure due to overdependence on oil products.
    If you want to report positive things that will re-employ millions (and not in drudgery) you can go no further than insisting you film every single MP watching Rebecca Hoskings open, frank and balanced look at the vital alternatives absolutely required in farming.

  • Comment number 15.

    I think what you people don't understand is that most people want more less editorialising and more news from the BBC. You don't understand that because finding, proving and writing up a real story is harder than giving us another 'thinkpiece'. And you wonder why the BBC, according its own polls, is becoming less and less credible as a news source.

  • Comment number 16.

    I do not see the 9000 fast food chain jobs as being good news at all, seeing as most of them will involve low pay, poor hours, little or no prospects, and little or no satisfaction. If we have become so desperate that low paid jobs that few people want are better than nothing then are we in a mess?

    Any jobs lost in the manufacturing sector are unlikely to be reclaimed even when economies pick up - they are lost forever almost certainly. And isn't that what UK plc needs most of all - manufacturing? Do we not need skills that can be built up, satisfaction in products made, and pride in our work. Do you get that in the fast food industry? I think not.

  • Comment number 17.

    As always - hit us with a bit of human pain and shock, that makes interesting news. Pathetic for a world leading news organisation isn't it!
    To be honest I have virtually given up on BBC TV news, especially News24. We are fed the same, usually negative and depressing, half dozen stories and circular video clips about twice an hour from morn 'till night. In between them we get the 'headline' short versions. The same stories but rendered semi- incomprehensible because of the awful non-stop drumming.
    The BBC has some of the best resources in the world. They have some of the best newsreaders and commentators in the world. They even have the stories, I sometimes see them on the 'ticker' along the screen but they never feature!
    Please note we audience members are intellectually capable of hearing a sensible editorial contrasting sudden job cuts verses longer term lower grade job gains. The whole concept of having decided which comes first demonstrates to me that you have missed the entire point of balanced reporting.

  • Comment number 18.

    The problem with the way that the BBC and most other news presenting organisations present news is that the way it is edited and read always slopes towards the negative ..there is a note of subdued glee in the voice of a presenter letting us know that yet another company is closing down but always a rider to a good news story adding a bit of negativity .. agood example is the report on inflation coming down but then the rider that in the future it may come down too far..note of glee from is something that has happened but is not something that may happen or indeed may never happen..I honestly think that all editors and writers of news reports should be sent on courses that encourage them to write and speak in a way conducive to the story they are dealing with...out with negativity in with truth and deal with news and not surmise

  • Comment number 19.

    Stories about job losses are usually straight. The figures can be relied on.

    Stories about jobs 'created' are usually spin. It is companies, property developers, PR teams that bellow about 'creating' jobs, often to convince planning committees etc.

    The papers have reported that the KFC expansion is attributed to customers 'trading down' from higher-class restaurants, so as commented above the 'created' jobs will actually be a [poor] replacement for jobs lost by individual local restaurants going out of business.

  • Comment number 20.

    2 points:

    I find it odd that the reporting didn't ask why the Mini workers were so surprised - how could the Mini be recession proof when no other car is? What planet do Mini workers inhabit? - although I do sympathise.

    And we should be grateful it wasn't reported by the sports journalists. If it was the KFC and Mini jobs would have been reported as 2 halves of the same story!

  • Comment number 21.

    Re: Post #15 by hubertgrove.

    "I think what you people don't understand is that most people want more less editorialising and more news from the BBC. You don't understand that because finding, proving and writing up a real story is harder than giving us another 'thinkpiece'."

    Actually, I know only too well. I'm a journalist myself, and know full well how difficult a job this can be.

    The fact is, as I said in my initial post, I'd have gone with the Mini story first myself. I merely thought the use of the phrase "entailed stories of human pain and shock" lost the moral high ground somehwat, as it basically admitted they went for the 'bad news' angle.

    That said, I do wish some folk would lay off on the BBC bashing. It may have its faults (after all nothing is perfect), but in an imperfect world the BBC is streets ahead of anything else out there.

  • Comment number 22.

    The debate between "bad" and "good" news is alwayas interesting. In this context I quote something very apt (I read this somewhere on a similar context long time back and recorded it in my phone) "Righteousness throws a challenge and makes it look inside which evil doesn't. That's why wickedness has easy appeal". Putting in this context - a "bad" (evil, wickedness) news like say murder, crime has more appeal to all as when we look inside us we say - 'Oh its not us, someone else' . This doesn't challenge us as an individual. But when there is something "good" (righteousness) news like say charity, helpful acts etc, it challenges us internally by asking - why aren't we like that. I believe, thats the reason why there is a tendency towards getting attracted to "bad" news than "good" news and this is played by all news agencies. I must say, (like almost everything in this world) this is not a rule but also not an exception.

  • Comment number 23.

    "These are not comparable with the "real" jobs lost at Cowley."

    I disagree with this comment. A job is a job, it pays people who work there, regardless of how long they work. Whats wrong with a store manager being 25? What is so illegitimate about a student or an immigrant taking a job at KFC? How is that not "real"?

    Whilst I understand your view that the jobs at Cowley are more 'precious' because you assume that the jobs are longer term, you should never devalue the importance of having a job in the first place.

  • Comment number 24.


    I get a little tired of the mantra that any job is "real" and, by inference, "better than nothing". Millions of people work hard for a pittance on this planet. They have been told the same tired mantra. The Tolpuddle Martyrs did something about pittance pay, appalling conditions, and heavily restricted choices in life. Their action lead to an opening out of opportunities for working people and suffrage. Millions of people still have no opportunities, choices or suffrage, and we in the west gleefully compound their desperation by making them farm for almost nothing so that we can eat a "cheap" burger and die young from our dietary deficiencies.

    Even our fast food chains pay the lowest they can, hide behind stated conditions that claim they are family friendly etc, when, in fact, they are nothing of the kind.

    We can get into arguments about whether cars are the kind of manufacturing the UK needs but the bottom line is that we do need to produce goods. We cannot survive as a service economy especially now that our financial services lie in ruins - the metaphorical equivalent of the twin towers seven and a half years ago.

  • Comment number 25.

    "Some have taken that as proof we are always keener to report and highlight the bad news."

    Of course they are. Almost the entire TV and news media revel in 'bad' news. Have a look, for just one example, at the small freesheet 'Positive News' which carries very, very different stories from the mainstream media. They report on regeneration work, communities working together to create new ways of living and working and so on. These kind of reports are rarely considered 'proper news'.

    A couple of years ago I was at my parents for Christmas and the first three items on the BBC news were murder and death (the first being Benazir Bhutto's assassination) and one of the other two was a about small girl run over on the road. Next, up was the BBC London news and the first item was another death or killing! So the message we are given is that out of ALL the things happening in the world on that day those were the ones to highlight. For the media, death, murder, distress, sex (ideally affairs and 'cheating'), suffering and tragedy (and even better if any or all of these involve celebrities) then they take precedence over pretty much any other news items. If you step back and really look, that is a glaringly obvious pattern.

    In future, whenever you hear the news, look on the BBC (or other news) web sites or see a newspaper, just ask yourself the question "Is there really nothing more uplifting, inspiring, communal, unselfish, non-celebrity that could have taken the place of this item?"

  • Comment number 26.

    There's no comparison. 850 jobs in manufacturing gone, reasonably well-paid, in an area synonymous with motors for decades. Most people losing their jobs will probably be family men aged 30-50 with mortgages and bills to pay. A real tragedy.


    There's a lot of assumptions there. Are the jobs reasonably well paid? or do they include the los of contract cleaners, office dogsbodies and catering staff as well? (I work in manufacturing by the way, so I DO understand the real technical nature of most of the workers as opposed to the drone image many have).

    As for the KFC jobs, they will NOT all be minimum wage, there will also be the need for a lot of new managers, albeit they will likely be promoted from the current staff. Also these chains have an excellent record of providing promotion oppertunities for those who want them and ar willing to work hard, that is why the managers can be as young as 25. Starting at the bottom in a KFC or McDonalds still means that you could double your wage in 5 years if you work hard enough.

    On the other hand manufacturing has suffered a talent drain for years because of the lack of oppertunity for real progression, especially in more technical roles, people are forced to move from job to job adn department to departmetn to gain pay rises, each time meaning that they become less efficient as the skills previously learnt are less applicable to the new role. This means that the business suffers. As an It specialist in manufacturign I will have to move to another department doing another role completely if I want any progression at all unless someone above me in the structure leaves. Clearly that is counter productive for the business, however the only other option for me is leave the business completely.

    And even if they were all poor jobs, so what? People in this country need to wake up to the fact that jobs like this need to be done, we have been overpaid (and as a result overpaying for goods) for at least 25 years now.

  • Comment number 27.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 28.

    Just seen a judgemnt call on

    Why "even though" ?

  • Comment number 29.

    For me the real issue is that many items could be written differently.

    For example...

    10% Fewer Repossessions Than Expected

    Today the Council of Mortgage lenders said that the number of repossessions in 2008 were 5,000 less than predicted at 40,000. Of these x thousand were buy to let properties. The CML said that repossession is a last resort and that although they predict higher numbers in 2009, the reductions in interest rates and other government initiatives were welcome.

    OR instead of

    Glaxo in 1bn restructuring plan

    the headline could have been

    Glaxo increases profits by 16% in 4th quarter to 6.7bn in 2008

    You barely mentioned the record sales in John Lewis in early January

    The BAE systems profits double made it and then the story disappeared where as miserable stories stay posted on the web for days and sometimes make a come back.

  • Comment number 30.

    There is no doubt in most people's minds that the BBC political team have a permanent anti-labour bias. Whatever success this government achieves is drowned out by the chorus of sniping from Robinson, and Peston and by the sneering of Paxman and Maitless. Whenever there is an announcement about anything, the appropriate Tory or Lib Dem is interviewed to pour scorn while the government is often represented by reportage - as interpreted by and filtered through the editorialising of the team. The hundreds of hospital buildings, school replacements, regenerations and social initiatives are ignored in favour of crude anti-government sound-bites. In the only programme where the real public are allowed a say, David Dimbleby conspicuously barracks and heckles Labour ministers and allows Tories and Liberals to make crass statements and tell barefaced lies, completely unchallenged! When a quote is needed, the BBC calls on 'The Taxpayers' Alliance - a Tory front organisation or 'The Countryside Alliance' -another Tory front organisation (look up their patrons and executives if you doubt this). It is time the BBC tried to restore its credibility- I used to regard it as the acme of truth - now Auntie is the mother of liars!

  • Comment number 31.

    Just wondering if it is now BBC policy for their bloggers to mention 'Twitter' in at least every other post.

  • Comment number 32.

    There is no doubt in most people's minds that the BBC political team have a permanent anti-labour bias.


    Amazing conclusion that, far more contributers (via blog comments, HYS, 606 etc.) seem to have the opposite view.

  • Comment number 33.

    Journalists, just like politicians, NEVER admit errors or apologise.
    I've virtually stopped watching the news because of the endless stream of BAD news spewed out nightly. The BBC and others seem to wallow in it. Case in point- part of Barratts Shoes was sold by Deloittes, saving 3,500 jobs but losing 2,500. Which number lead the news? The losses of course! There are other instances of double counting, jobs lost blamed on the credit crunch when they were to do with other factors etc etc.
    It's reached the point now when even some presenters appear to be embarrassed by the line they have to take on the economy and at least one apologised on the t.v. during her presentation.
    The economy needs confidence- leave the rubbishing to the politicians. I'm not asking for censorship, just common sense and judgement.

  • Comment number 34.

    I am far from convinced that it is the role of the BBC to determine value; to say one piece of news is good and another is bad. It is this kind of reporting that reinforces the view that interest rate cuts are good, rises are bad. Similarly house price rises are generally given a good spin whilst declines are bad. Doubtless the reduction in car production could be seen as good by the green factions and I doubt KFC is ever good news for chickens or perhaps the health of the nation. On a related topic, neither do I believe it is correct for the BBC to parrot government spin or fly kites for governmental proto-schemes.

    It is the BBCs role to report, investigate and inform. Certainly it is entertaining and sometimes informative to hear opinion but it is essential that opinion be presented as such.

  • Comment number 35.

    Jeremy. Are you brave enough to make your name and personal integrity by saving us all money in ordinary folk's / credit crunch land (not yours obviously) by front boarding MEP's salaries and totally unchallenged MEP's expenses being highlighted by BBC's Laurence Peter on BBC right now!
    I will eat my MEP's feet if my fury is actually posted on the BBC and Have Your Say highlights MEP COSTS to UK citizens!

  • Comment number 36.

    what are BBC editors doing to update blogs?
    What has happened to Michael Crick's blog?

  • Comment number 37.

    You cannot please all of the people, all of the time.

    No matter what you do, somebody will always invent a conspiracy theory - especially on the internet.

  • Comment number 38.

    I also think that the the definition of 'top or lead stories' needs to be re-assessed

    for example

    is 'rio parties' more of a top story than 'euro MPs expenses'

    or is 'Iraq museum re-opens' a top story

    Both of these stories are positive and encouraging but 'top stories'?

    On a similar note negative stories lurk for weeks on the web-site. For example

    should the TATA steel story dated 28th January still have a place on the business page of the web-site?

  • Comment number 39.

    Oh, just another tihng:

    I think most of the countyry is aware that Jade Goody has terminal cancer. So I don't think it's necessary to presage every reference to her with the words, "terminally ill". You'd think she'd changed her name by deed poll or something.

  • Comment number 40.

    When will people accept it is not bad news it is fact.

    We have those with there own agenda constantly working the media to confuse us with so many mixed messages that things are not as bad as we think or things are getting better to get us to spend money we shouldn't or buy houses that are likely to fall in value over the next few years etc etc...

    We have to have factual reporting to keep us in the real world because the war that is raging is between us holding onto what we've got and those who want to part us from it.

  • Comment number 41.

    Three words ;

    Self Fulfilling Prophecy....!

    24hr rolling news, all forms of media addicted to scaring its readership & viewers to keep up its figures..!

    It's a well known fact that a large factor in the stability of the market is confidence, and hearing stories of financial apocalypse in every other news non-story really isn't helping matters...!

  • Comment number 42.

    The BBC and its reporters just cannot force themselves out of the negative repoting way...there are many very positve stories around that are all reduced to negativity by the news 24 staff...did house prices rise a bit last month...oh yes BUT maybe they will go down again !!! typical rubbishy reporting by a staff desperate for a negative approach

  • Comment number 43.

    Let's face it, a job at KFC can't compare to the pride and skill required to manufacture quality cars. Therefore the loss of 800 quality jobs over the creation of lots of potentially naff jobs is important.

    I don't want to diss KFC workers but have often found KFC to have the worst staff and scummiest restaurants compared to McDonald's. Although Burger King are pretty rough too.

  • Comment number 44.

    If it bleeds it leads - I guess the same can be applied to financial news.

    Emad Raouf

  • Comment number 45.

    Most news seems to be bad!

  • Comment number 46.

    Could it be because they are not "real" jobs. We have a B&Q opening in a few weeks and not one of the jobs were over 20 hours. They are not jobs, you cannot even get full family tax credits to make up for the pathetic minimum wage offered, they are part time. It's the same with all the reported new jobs at supermarkets all part time. How can you support a family on 20 hours a week?

  • Comment number 47.

    I agree wholeheartedly with 41 - How are we going to get confidence back?
    Those unfortunate people are losing their jobs - why? - because everyone is scared they will not be able to afford cars etc in the future, and they will continue to be scared unless we stop telling them every day that they should be!
    - I am not suggesting for a moment we suppress the media but do they have to portray everything as armageddon?

    The banks made very greedy and irresponsible decisions/loans and many business fell for it taking on loans they could not afford and are now in a mess(woolworths), but why are other businesses failing other than the scare factor

  • Comment number 48.

    i would like the to meet the people who can support their familly on the wage of one of the mainly part time jobs supplied (reportedly) by K.F.C.. The people in the car industry are full time workers on resonable saleries instead of low skilled, part time, low earning k.f.c. jobs . Only M.P.s ,Bank bosses , lawyers or "profesionals " are allowed to earn a decent wage .

  • Comment number 49.


    Well that gave me a good chuckle. Maybe you could argue the toss with all the other people who write in with exactly the opposite point. Personally I think if they're peeing you off with their 'anti-Labour bias' and peeing the others off with their 'pro-Labour' bias they must be doing pretty okay.

    Oh and I can't fault the editorial decision. Those job cuts affect people in the here and now. The potential new jobs at KFC are exactly that, potential.

  • Comment number 50.


    As much as it pains me to stick up for M.P.s, the wages of bank bosses and top lawyers far outstrips those running the country. I believe the PM earns around £200,000 a year. Which, to me, is a heck of a lot but when you compare it to the 'big boys' in private industry is a pittance.

    ...This is, of course, no excuse for 'fiddling' the expenses...

  • Comment number 51.


    Come off it, one month where the prices rise ever so slightly rises does not a trend make and the Beeb, quite rightly, should point this out.

  • Comment number 52.

    It's the dumbing down of the news that now attracts me on to blogging.

    Where else can you find a real opinion and some version of reality.

    The last few days news coverage has been about celebrity.

    I never watched Big Brother hate award ceremonies and steer well clear of anything that calls itself a celebrity.

    That has been the main news for the last

    There are plenty of dumbed down programmes to watch for those who don't want to face up to reality.

    Just give us some hard hitting well investigated interesting news stories. Warts and all. Leave the dumbed down stuff for the magazine programmes. There are enough of those to keep all of the dissenters happy.

  • Comment number 53.

    I reckon that the decision of which story takes priority over another should be taken out of the hands of BBC journalists. The problems over left wing bias and issues presumably highlighted in the censored Balen Report leave me, and presumably many others, distrusting the output from the BBC. I certainly find myself sourcing news elsewhere or verifying stories elsewhere which is mad since I am prepaying for the BBC to do its job properly in the first place.

    I think it would be technically feasible to have a points system based on the contents of a given news event. Many criteria could be included, including how many people are potentially and actually impacted, the severity of the impact and so on. OK, so the person or people who agree the criteria will be subject to the same failings as we have witnessed from the BBC, but once the system is in, it could be open to public debate as to what weighting is given to different criteria and could be tweaked accordingly (perhaps by public note?). On-line, it may be technically possible for users to personalise the running order by setting their own criteria.

    I think the BBC could and should be a beacon of truth and be trusted more than other outlet. This idea may be a good start along that road.

  • Comment number 54.

    I think what people are trying to say, is that we're all a bit fed up of the continual stream of bad news. I know it is a journalistic trait to report current affair matters on a negative basis as that is what sells. It just seems a bit strange that we seem to be obsessed with negative news stories all the time at the present especially around financial matters. Back in the 1940s they had a word that this was propaganda and our BBC needs to stop this trait. It was not the problem of reporting the job losses or the commentating on the state of the motor manufacturing industry but the language and tone of the report. It is the responsibility of the BBC to provide news on an unbiased and a level basis. I think that the general public is becoming tired of the continual obsession by the media for bad news and sexing up stories. and this is adding to the economic recession. I and many others hope that the tone of the media will cheer up soon and help us all through these difficult times. Propaganda is used by organisations or governments to reinforce a message, I just hope that our BBC remembers that it is a public service broadcaster and it's the service of the general public. I think that the BBC news needs to take on board more of the views of lay people and really start listening to feedback rather than dismissing these people's views.

  • Comment number 55.

    Why is it that we hear Barrack Obama telling the American people that "we will get through this" in positive and upbeat tones whilst all that the likes of Darling, King and above all, Brown, our Prime Minister only ever tell us what an awful "slough of despond" we are in, a depression" etc etc?

    Is it because none of these people have ever been in power:
    1. during a serious recession and don't know what to say
    2. have never had to lead in a downturn?

    Do they not realise that by acting in such a downbeat fashion all they succeed in doing is making the problem worse. Yes they are very sorry that they steered us into this mess but do they really need to drag us all through their period of mourning and recrimination?

    Oh for a leader who will stand up and lead us to higher ground - the current bunch of funeral directors will never do it.

  • Comment number 56.

    I love your blog Jeremy - but think you're hiding in the shadows too much. Get your handsome face on screen more often if you want to keep your fans in East Dulwich happy. We stayed up late last week waiting for an all too brief glimpse of you on Newsnight, having to put up with Pesto instead. More of you and we could put up with all the relentless bad news about the economy...

  • Comment number 57.

    It is always bad news first. Never does the bbc news lead with stories of job creation or companies making profits in this economic climate. Typical headlines involve massive job losses, firms going bust and banks making losses. Why does the BBC insist on fuelling this negative culture? This speculation only adds to consumer's depressing outlook on the economy. Perhaps if it were to report on the good things happening in the economy, consumers would be more likely to have a positive outlook, therefore increasing consumer expenditure. In NI for example, not only have we had the announcement of over an additional 1500 call centre jobs, we have seen Ulster bank make profits in a difficult climate. Yet the news chooses to focus on its parent company RBS's huge losses with the news of less significant job losses in manufacturing (less productive) industries.

  • Comment number 58.

    The BBC has to shoulder its share of the blame for talking us into this recession. Only 50% of the problem is to do with credit shortages; the rest is lack of confidence at all levels in the economy. No wonder when every news organisation has its "jobswatch" determined to tell us we're all going to hell in a handcart. The BBC should learn less from the tabloids and take a step upmarket.

  • Comment number 59.

    And another thought - to the people that got us into this mess initially - why not save some money and get rid of the people who are calculating how much the housing market is going down every day/week/month/year !

    They are simply advertising what they caused and it helps nobody

  • Comment number 60.


    I get a little fed up with people who want it both ways. The recession was created by people "talking up" and then believing in the fantasy created. They talked endlessly of economies growing when, in fact, they were doing nothing of the sort. The BBC and the rest of the media did their fair bit of pumping blood into this particular dead body, especially by not investigating (or ignoring) some of the many issues that arose from Enron (and many others).

    The writing had been on the wall for many years prior to the emergence of the sub-prime problem which took all of half a decade before anyone thought it was a real and present danger.

    I am surprised by the number of economists who state now that they saw this coming. I don't believe that many of them because I can recall a US economist writing on the Internet as long ago as January 1998 that our "system would crumble unless we introduced substantially more regulation to the way companies kept their accounts on an international scale".

    The same author also castigated western economies for "exporting jobs, services, manufacturing and production" to Asia. He predicted a collapse without prospect of retrieval without a major rethink of economic practices. He also predicted a slump that "would make the twenties and thirties seem like birthday parties".

    This "talk down" did nothing because no one was listening. People are now listening and they are less likely to be fobbed off with ridiculous notions that claim that all we need is "optimism" and "confidence". We have had "optimism" and "confidence" for thirty years and we now have the biggest mess the financial world has ever seen.

  • Comment number 61.

    To add a little more emphasis on the failure of monetarism to deliver its promises it is worth remembering that Thatcher's "flirtation" with Friedman's work altered the economic perceptions of how inflation occurred. Printing money (however it is done or whatever words are used to describe it) is inflationary and to offset that risk it was left to the commercial world to "grow" through expansion. Friedman's principles may have been sound - we may never know - but what he ignored (or didn't account for) was the prospect of unethical behaviour by company accountants wishing to attract the favour of speculators.

    This was largely done by exaggerating assets, in much the same way as the sub-prime market overvalued property. The markets became a speculator paradise since they could trade knowing that their money would "grow" in front of their eyes with no "real" money ever changing hands. Even "insider deals" could be masked by the buoyancy of all the many traders watching every movement on their graphs.

    The massive "real" inflation this caused was hidden through the deft conversion of unreal to real money i.e. it was never paid to the low end of the income spectrum where its impact would be immediately apparent. So from a global perspective inflation appears to have stood relatively still because everything was hidden by over valuation and there was no real money involved or so it seemed. So what we appear to have now is a need to deflate the hot air or print money up to make up for the slack. The former is going to lead to critical hardship amongst the majority of honest and blameless workers, whilst the latter may lead to rampant inflation which will also harm the same group.

    I am left with one question - why are the people who dishonestly caused this huge mess (in the UK from Thatcher, Major, Blair, Brown, their chancellors and all the directors of the companies who cheated) not being charged with fraud at the very least?


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