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Eddie Mair | 10:09 UK time, Wednesday, 8 November 2006

if things go badly today. Bit of a big night out with Paul Gascoigne.

Just been told that Lissa, who I was relying on to post the postcards for me, is away all week on a first aid course. Could have done with her last night. But - a WEEK? What will she be able to do when she comes back? I anticipate she'll be not only Blog Wizardess, but carrying out face transplants and removing tumours. I suppose that will be handy for those of us who can't really get out of the office during the day.

I'll have another go myself in a while, but thank you for your patience. In the meantime, I've been asked by the editor, Peter something, whether you'd like a gander at his blog. In it, he raises a number of important issues about how we report crime. Please take part, if you feel like it. As you'll see from his blog, he's a lot busier than me, only finding time to post every quarter. So be nice.


  1. At 10:27 AM on 08 Nov 2006, Big Sister wrote:

    Eddie and Gazza on the town? Whatever next! And Lissa doing face transplants ... Can we put our orders in now?

    But, seriously, Lord Mair, we'll be kind to you today, and for the rest of the week.

    A little birdie tells us you've a big weekend ahead - Can we send you a virtual bottle of bubbly? There'll be a blogger out there with the necessary skills ...

    And no Lissa. So postcards postponed (perhaps). Okay. We give in.

  2. At 10:36 AM on 08 Nov 2006, OnTheLedge wrote:

    Am I the only one to have spotted a connection between Lissa's course and Ed's night out?

    Surely you aren't that bad after a few bevvies .......

  3. At 11:09 AM on 08 Nov 2006, Fearless Fred wrote:

    I don't know about advertising another blog here, Eddie. Do you really want us wandering off?

  4. At 11:24 AM on 08 Nov 2006, RobbieDo wrote:


    It may be my hangover but I can't see anything in Peter Something's blog about reporting crime. The last entry was 21 September.

  5. At 11:33 AM on 08 Nov 2006, valery pedant wrote:

    "We've decided to do a blog because I strongly believe the intimate relationship PM listeners have with the programme is similar to the sense of belonging successful online communities have. The massive take up of the PM Newsletter has reinforced that view for me. The newsletter will continue, for now, but the blog allows listeners to talk to each other without us getting in the way and not just when we are on air."

    So there we are then, getting approval on Peter Something's Blog. Note the "for now" ref to the newsletter though, and that comment was made at the beginning of September. Did he know Eddie's talents would begin to slip? What do you think he knows about postcards?

  6. At 11:38 AM on 08 Nov 2006, Jemima wrote:

    It's not made it to the editor page yet.


  7. At 11:48 AM on 08 Nov 2006, jonnie wrote:

    This is the link to Peters Blog


    I did mention in an e-mail to Eddie that it doesn't take comments.

    I think Eddie may be being questioned about last nights goings on's :-(

  8. At 11:50 AM on 08 Nov 2006, jonnie wrote:

    Actually this seems to work for Peter as well :


  9. At 12:09 PM on 08 Nov 2006, Simon Worrall wrote:

    Ah-ha! Now I get the Gascoigne thing.




  10. At 01:07 PM on 08 Nov 2006, Jan Miller wrote:

    in reply to Peter's request for comments on crime coverage - I am fed up with all the news reports on TV and radio, covering the SAME latest child murders etc in graphic detail No it's not news - it's pandering to people's sadistic ...something or other. it's sick that you think we should all want to hear about it over and over again.
    Why not be daring and report on something affecting society, natural environment, politics happening around the world that no other channel is bothered with?

  11. At 01:13 PM on 08 Nov 2006, pinklefish wrote:

    Is Peter something related to Charlie Brooker? The likeness is remarkable...

  12. At 01:14 PM on 08 Nov 2006, barrie singleton wrote:

    Peter Rippon's link brought me here to respond - is that right? (I see Robbie Do has the same problem). What the hell - its just a waste of virtual paste.


    Our culture regards criminality as a career choice and justice as a tidying-up exercise. Joe public, schizophrenic as ever, observes crime and punishment the same way he does a motorway crash; it is just a spectacle until he or his is involved.

    Personally, I would like to see more philosophy, sociology, psychology etc applied to the story behind the “crime”. Also: I would want to highlight the role of government in shaping “culture” and their involvement in all crime as an accessory.

    Finally: I was struck by the judge in the Borat case saying: “I do not begin to understand you motivation” (or similar). Well – I bloody do, and I can’t help wondering about the competence of a judge who doesn’t!?

    Much more I could say . . .

  13. At 01:23 PM on 08 Nov 2006, jonnie wrote:

    The link works now, and Adam has made a point - but I'm still told that I don't have permission to make a comment.

    Anyone else had this problem or have I just been barred ;-(

  14. At 01:28 PM on 08 Nov 2006, Four man wrote:

    Clicked on Peters link and found myself with you. How nice. On the subject of hair...try using the last one for flossing. Then you never feel it was wasted.
    On Crime, Murder particularly. Most is not news; its usually extremely upsetting for friends and relatives. The media inevitably choose those crimes that have an angle thus directly making news out of tragedy where the death is secondary. There is a great need for the media particulary the BBC news media, to show the way with Respect for each other. Valuing people is paramount to winkling out a weak story from their grief.

  15. At 01:30 PM on 08 Nov 2006, valery pedant wrote:

    Borat? The slip that Eddie was a-feared of making the other day. Mind you, perhaps it works both ways...

  16. At 01:30 PM on 08 Nov 2006, anne wrote:

    I think Lissa is in training for a Casualty audition.

  17. At 01:34 PM on 08 Nov 2006, John H. wrote:

    Oh, how cool is that? You follow Ernie's link over then and then follow one there to come back here.

    I take that as an indication to make comments about the reporting of crime (requested there) over here. I've not thought about this for very long, so I shall reserve the right to completely change my mind throughout the afternoon, but my first thought was kicked off by Peter's comment: "When deciding whether to do a crime story it is easier if there is an issue attached..." I actually think that that is part of the problem. News programmes seem to have a habit of using news stories to illustrate some prevailing view - a bit like the way you use citations to establish an academic argument - and so if we currently have a prevailing view that we face an imminent terrorist threat, then every story that could possibly have a terrorist angle will get air time. I know there is no easy answer to the "doom and gloom" vs "happy clappy" dialectic, but I am absolutely convinced that the reporting of crime directly influences the fear of crime. I do not take a national paper, partly because, however terrible, it is essentially irrelevant to me that crimes of all sorts and magnitudes are being committed around the country. The vast majority of specific crimes are only relevant to the people involved and perhaps the local area.

    Of course, being slightly more generous to Peter's comment, "having an issue" attached is an important part of what makes a particular crime relevant - but it should be from the "bottom up", not the "top down". I also think that a more analytical approach to crime reporting might be helpful. A single race-hate crime is a terrible thing - but isolated. Given headline status, it is everywhere. An analysis of such crimes over time would be a much more newsworthy story than the terrible suffering of a single individual. As I'm writing this, I realise that what I'm saying is a little like the distinction between an ethnographic approach and a more quantitative one. I don't buy into the need for "human interest" when talking about crime per se - and yet I think that seems to be factor in way it is reported.

    I should shut up now. Just before I go, did anybody else catch the 6 o'clock newsreader talking about sea-levels rising as the polar ice caps melt? I'm not an environmental scientist, but I thought rising sea levels were much more affected by the expansion in volume of the sea water due to rising temperatures. I welcome views on (1) which it actually is and (2) whether my query is a result of pedantry, or legitimate annoyance about a piece of potentially appalling disinformation.

  18. At 01:38 PM on 08 Nov 2006, Matthew Noar wrote:

    Hi, just a comment about reporting crime stories. I think it is right to report on both the details of particular crimes and general themes which have relevance. My response to whether you should report crimes that are just particular human tragedies it this: there is no such thing as just a particular human tragedy. There are always wider, general themes to which they relate. So a particular knife crime can tie in with trends in people carrying knives, and what is being done about it. A particular burglary can tie in with trends in the way people now try to secure their homes. There are always lots of general themes that will be relevant, and it would be nice to see even more detailed discussion of them. So when discussing knife crimes, e.g., first give a panorama of statistics and comparisons, then give an account of the current position at law with regard to knife crime, then give an account of what the different politcal parties propose, then give an account of what pressure groups are calling for, then give an account of what works abroad ... and so on. It would be great to learn more.

  19. At 01:57 PM on 08 Nov 2006, Frances O wrote:

    So Eddie's 43?

    Izzat what you mean, Si?

  20. At 02:02 PM on 08 Nov 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Jonnie (13)

    I was told similarly that I was not allowed to comment on one of that family of blogs. Repeatedly so, but seemed able to post on others. Today you are forbidden, but I seem allowed, so I have taken the opportunity to ask if this is some special way of ensuring 'balance', by randomly excluding some folk sometimes.


  21. At 02:12 PM on 08 Nov 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    John H (17)

    1. I concur with your thoughts on crime reporting. 2. Both the melting (particularly of land-based ice) and the volumetric expansion effect a rise in sealevel. Water is densest at around 4 degrees centigrade, which complicates things.

    In this world, nothing is simple and very few things are thoroughly linear. As to balance in reporting, Stephen Schneider has some worthwhile thoughts
    Vaya con Gaia

  22. At 02:33 PM on 08 Nov 2006, Belinda wrote:

    One quibble I have with crime reporting is the enormous disparity given to the amount of coverage and thus implied 'importance' of various crimes.
    You could argue that no murder is worse than another as they end with the same result and arise from the same evil intention, and yet some murders are barely mentioned (or simply not mentioned!) and some are given multiple-day top-of-the-headlines treatment.
    There does not appear to be a method in this - ALL murders have an expanded 'story' or issue behind them in terms of the social status of the country, so I don't entirely understand why the murder of a teenage girl by a former boyfriend, for example, is typically given far more coverage than the murder of an elderly lady in her own home by a drug-addicted yob.

  23. At 02:47 PM on 08 Nov 2006, Jane Hamilton wrote:

    I live in a town full of elderly people who are so fearful of crimes as reported in the media. You must report on crime, but please give a balance and point out that not all hoodies are evil, not all streets are full of knife-wielders and murderers,and not all passers -by are after your handbag. Too many folk I know won't open their doors or go out at night, which is a shame.
    I so appreciated the mother who spoke so movingly last night about her wayward son and the lack of support she receives. Had me in tears. Well done for airing that.
    Love the shirt, Peter.

  24. At 02:58 PM on 08 Nov 2006, John H. wrote:

    Matthew Noar (currently at 18, but no doubt it will move shortly) presents an interesting point of view. His raising of knife crime reporting reminds me that we had a spate of knife attack reports a while ago - they were everywhere - giving every indication that it would be dangerous to brave the high street without, at least, a little shield to deflect the ensuing attacks. Or perhaps a cushion. During this time, I remember a little piece on one R4 programme presenting some of the information that Matthew requests. The bit that struck me, and the bit I hope I'm remembering vaguely correctly, was that there had been no particular increase in knife-related crime over the last few years. The numbers of attacks were relatively stable. As far as I am concerned, the decision to report every attack that could be found is, at the very least, a disservice to the public.

    Perhaps one of my clearer thinking froggers can untangle what follows and express it in a form that makes sense. I'm increasingly coming to believe that actively promoting "fear" should "not be allowed". ("Miss! Miss! Miss!! This newspaper's making me fearful!" - however, I did choose that phrase carefully!) There should be some mechanism of censure for the media - news programmes, newspapers, etc. And if somebody tells me that one already exists, then I can only say that I don't think it's working.

  25. At 03:45 PM on 08 Nov 2006, Neal Champion wrote:

    There are several comments here already which suggest that the media adds much to the general "fear of crime" that is endemic at the moment, and I'd just like to add my voice to that. All the statistics suggest that we live in one of the safest parts of the world, during one of the safest periods in human history. Sensational reporting of crime simply does not reflect these facts.

    I think this is particularly true with regard to crimes against children. The level of attacks by strangers on children has not changed over the last four decades, and the vast majority of assaults on children are by family members. However, following the media coverage on, say, the Soham murders, would lead one to draw the opposite conclusion.

    One last point: Peter Rippon writes that "heart wrenching interviews with relatives can be deeply moving and powerful radio". I find such interviews outrageously intrusive, and almost the last thing I want to hear on the radio.

  26. At 03:47 PM on 08 Nov 2006, zebedee wrote:

    It would seem to me that media reporting of crimes predominantly because of their shock value is a tabloid approach, if not plain wrong.

    Where reporting of crimes would seem to be a good thing is if there is some benefit to be derived by us all knowing about the said crimes eg. publicising the tactics of fraudsters and their antics at cash machines has made us all wiser and consequently a little safer. Equally, if public knowledge of a crime or type of crime can result in some steps being taken in the way of public protection this too would seem to be a good idea.

  27. At 03:50 PM on 08 Nov 2006, Neal Champion wrote:

    There are several comments here already which suggest that the media adds much to the general "fear of crime" that is endemic at the moment, and I'd just like to add my voice to that. All the statistics suggest that we live in one of the safest parts of the world, during one of the safest periods in human history. Sensational reporting of crime simply does not reflect these facts.

    I think this is particularly true with regard to crimes against children. The level of attacks by strangers on children has not changed over the last four decades, and the vast majority of assaults on children are by family members. However, following the media coverage on, say, the Soham murders, would lead one to draw the opposite conclusion.

    One last point: Peter Rippon writes that "heart wrenching interviews with relatives can be deeply moving and powerful radio". I find such interviews outrageously intrusive, and almost the last thing I want to hear on the radio.

  28. At 04:03 PM on 08 Nov 2006, RobbieDo wrote:

    John H (24 at present)

    Your final paragraph makes perfect sense to me.

    Unfortunately the only censure available for the media is either not buying the publication or switching channels. There is no other censure, except within the producing organisation itself, for bad journalism and reporting.

  29. At 05:17 PM on 08 Nov 2006, Humph wrote:

    Hello John H. (17)

    Just in case you would like a fuller explanation to your questions at the end of your contribution, than that provided by Ed (21), here goes:

    Yes, if you heat water it will expand and so an increase of global temperatures will cause an expansion of the oceans and seas etc. However, water has a very low co-efficient of thermal conductivity. That means that any variation of the temperature at the surface of an ocean is going to have very little effect on the temperature, and by extension the expansion, of the water further down. Even at very small depth further down. For an everyday analogy - if you add ice to your cocktail and then after a few minutes start to drink with a straw you are going to be disappointed if you have not stirred your drink first. Yes, there is some form of stirring in an ocean caused by the waves but even that has very little effect on most of the body of water. Also, do not forget that we are only talking of an increase of a couple to degrees over many years and so the amount of expansion per unit area is going to be small. A big area, to be sure, but even so it will not cause too much of a rise in sea-levels.

    Polar ice-caps provide a large place to store water and, as Ed says, if these are land based they do not contribute to the sea-level. Marine-borne ice-bergs, if melted, would not increase the sea-level as they already displace their own weight of water in order to stay afloat. However, if land based ice-caps melt then that would increase the sea-level. The question here is how much would melt at the poles when the temperature rise at the equator is “quite small”? I get the impression that this is where the main concern is at present, possibly because it is quite easy to film a piece of ice melting.

    There is, of course, another store for the world’s water and that is the clouds in the sky. If we increase global warming, would that increase the rate of evaporation? I must admit that I have not heard this suggested as a possible good point in the serious discussions that I have had on the issue and so it is likely to be a non-starter.

    So, in answer to your question, I would say that both the expansion of the water and the melting of the ice-caps have some effect on the predicted rise in sea-levels but I would think that melting ice-caps have more of an effect.

    In answer to question 2, I would say that there is nothing wrong with being a pedant. Just ask Val P if you do not believe me. Yes, I know that she is biased on the subject but then so am I :-).

    Note to Ed

    I was going to say, in response to your claim about water being densest at 4 degrees, “No, no, no! It is the other way round!” Of course, you are absolutely correct (it has been a bad day/week in the lab). If there are any other such glaring mistakes in any of the above, then I apologise to one and all.



  30. At 08:02 PM on 08 Nov 2006, Linda PW wrote:

    I've read the comments on crime reporting with interest. After too many years working in the criminal justice system both here and in Europe, I am staggered by the knee jerk reaction of our politicians to tabloid reporting of crime. Our system was working reasonably well - indeed admired and copied by many EU countries! - until the Government became obsessed with public opinion, as portrayed by the tabloid press. Interestingly, in Europe, crime is not a national preoccupation, rarely given headline status (unless it's corrupt politicians of course!), and they trust the trained professionals in their criminal justice agencies to get on with the job! Of course there are problems - but they are largely caused by politicians tinkering with the administration, or wasting huge amounts of taxpayers money on IT sytems that don't work!

  31. At 09:06 PM on 08 Nov 2006, Annasee wrote:

    I make a point of always avoiding the local tv news since it is invariably about crime & football, and I wish to know about neither. Likewise local free newspapers seem to concentrate wherever possible on local crime, the more gory the better. Given that this is the only newspaper found in a lot of houses, such reporting must skew the views of those reading it. We used to live next to a council estate in Hyde (ironically moving out just as Dr Shipman's crimes were coming to light, some on our very street). I got to know some of the elderly residents, & their view of the world was entirely fashioned by the commercial tv channels (with aforesaid local news), & the worst sort of tabloid newspapers. As a result they were very fearful of "crime" as shown, but with the bitter irony that they would never have suspected the real crime that was going on all around them from the local Dr. And no one believed that story for a very long time.

  32. At 10:04 PM on 08 Nov 2006, Annasee wrote:

    Forgot to say - about the hair Eddie. Perhaps since you have a big event to celebrate on Sunday, you could find time to nip to the barbers & get him to shave into your hair the relevant number (41, isn't it?). We happened to see the local barber doing this (well, it was a union jack flag shape actually) for a father & son during the last football excitement. Looked like child abuse to me, but then I'm not keen on football. It could be useful, if you happened to forget how old you were for a minute. You could grab a mirror, hold it up to the back of your head (while looking in ANOTHER mirror, obviously) & there is your current age.

  33. At 10:37 PM on 08 Nov 2006, gossipmistress wrote:

    Re the reporting of crime on PM, there does seem to be a disproportionate amount of time spent on reporting crime on most news programmes, not just PM. And it does get a bit depressing and give a skewed view of the country, or of bits of the country.

    Personally, I find that hearing an individual's story about how a crime has affected them is much more powerful and moving than hearing a general overview. I would also like to hear more from those in charge of the justice system on how they propose to reduce the rate of reoffending, especially as our prisons appear to be full to bursting.

  34. At 01:40 AM on 09 Nov 2006, Dave Paull wrote:

    I wrestle with the question about crime stories all the time in my job as editor and News Anchor of daily radio newscasts.

    Crime stories can become so numbing if that's all they are - just a battering of the senses with senseless acts of violence. But as you note, they become worthier of examination if there is some larger issue involved.

    I once declared that I would only air issue-oriented stories in my news, and was able to do so. Yet that, too, runs a risk - that of boring the audience by trying to "educate" them on items of social significance. Who wants a civics class substituted for headline news?

    Perhaps a blend of the two is more like it. Tonight I did a story about two women who were swept out to sea while walking the beach on the Oregon coast. There's a safety lesson there, one which I don't need to spell out for my listeners since sneaker waves are a constant hazard and were a major point of this news item.

    Dave Paull
    93.1 FM KTRO News

  35. At 10:56 AM on 09 Nov 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Humph (29),

    Glad to know you're watching my back. FYI cloud formation in response to warming is very much a topic in climate-change studies, and various mechanisms are suggested, but, as with anything as complex as climate (is there anything?), nothing is definitive.

    It is suggested that increased cloud cover will mitigate warming by reflecting more heat. Lovelock and others have also proposed a feedback via dimethylsulfoxide generated by marine micro-organisms....it apparently aids cloud nucleation. Then there ius global dimming due to anthropogenic aerosols and particulates, this latter being reduced due to recent pollution reduction in the developed world, being a suggested mechanism for observed 'accelerated 'warming...

    Complex? We don't have any idea how complex!

    Those who know do not talk.
    Those who talk do not know.

    Keep your mouth closed.
    Guard your senses.
    Temper your sharpness.
    Simplify your problems.
    Mask your brightness.
    Be at one with the dust of the Earth.
    This is primal union.
    Lao Tzu, Tao 56, one of my favourites.

  36. At 11:03 AM on 09 Nov 2006, valery pedant wrote:

    Humph, 29, indeed, there's nowt wrong with looking out for the little things. I'm a "little thing" myself!

  37. At 03:08 PM on 09 Nov 2006, John H. wrote:

    Humph - thanks for that bit of explanation. It does raise a question, though. Where is global warming expected to take place? I loved your analogy of the iced drink, but have to replace it with a rather artificial example in order to explain what I'm asking. If instead of dropping the ice cube in the drink, I suspended it just above the surface (and it being a magical ice cube, it didn't melt) - eventually it would presumably have a cooling effect on the little air gap, and then the drink (or Drink - Aps - didn't know you did science too). Hm, I'm not sure that this helps too much because available environmental energy muddies the water. Let's just take our drink and put it in a slightly warmer or cooler place - your contention is that there would be a point in time when the surfaces of the liquid were significantly warmer or cooler than the middle - yes? And given the scale of the world's oceans, the available surface "layer" is only a small proportion of the volume. This is where my question needs to be asked - are we only talking about surface warming? In the drink example, the whole drink will eventually achieve a uniform temperature, won't it? Is it the case that even over long periods of time, it is only the "skin" of the earth and the atmosphere that will heat up (or in other circumstances, cool down)? It seems counter-intuitive, but I appreciate that the mechanics of the processes involved need not be intuitive. I guess I'm ready for my second lesson, now, please!

  38. At 04:15 PM on 09 Nov 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    John H,

    It's a very complex system of interlinking systems. There is mixing in the oceans, and as a result we have the Atlantic conveyor, or "gulf stream" and many similar circulation patterns, which are driven by differences in density (in turn driven by differences in temperature and salinity) and the Earth's rotation as well as tides.

    As the Arctic ice melts it may freshen the northern end of the conveyor (which has been cooling and increasing in salinity as it evaporates and moves north) so much that it stops sinking. I may then have icebergs at my doorstep.

    Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute is one of many great centres of learning:
    and, you might check out the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) , whose pdf reports give some sense of the complexities involved.

    Enough to be starting with, I reckon. I've been studying the topic for some time.
    Vaya con Gaia

  39. At 05:29 PM on 09 Nov 2006, Peter Rippon wrote:

    Thanks for all the comments. There is a lot we can take from them. I agree we need to give more context and scale. We do it, but we will try to do more. On creating a climate of fear, I'm not sure the charge sticks with PM, you'd be hard pushed to find a Radio Four listener who has developed an unrealistic fear of crime by listening to the radio. I really like the idea that PM goes all 'Crime and Punishment', we've discussed similar things in the past in Broadcasting House editorial meetings but never come up with a treatment idea we were really happy with. It's difficult and it would need to avoid sounding like a list of excuses. Any ideas welcome.

  40. At 12:02 AM on 10 Nov 2006, John H. wrote:

    Peter (currently 39), I do think it's great that you give some sort of feedback. Perhaps, to take the discussion further, Eddie should post a new entry - these things do tend to get lost.

    To be fair, I am sure you are right that R4 is not a genuine candidate for "fear promoter of the year". A question, though - did PM report the terrible fire deaths in Accrington? I don't mean to be facetious, I simply do not remember. To me, this is a story that should not be a national news story - it was tragic, but apparently entirely "internal". For me, a contrast would be the Kriss Donald story - this also was tragic, but the resolution had all sorts of things to say about the community in which the crime occurred, and also the extraordinary achievements in bringing the accused to justice - not least because of the cooperation received from the Pakistan authorities.

    For me, news reported should not necessarily relate to "locisable" human tragedy. Of course, human tragedy can make for a better story, but should it be "news"?

    Since my initial frog - gosh - yesterday, I've been wondering about "positive" news. And I do think it is possible without a Trevor McD "and finally" moment. I have no idea if it's true, but something along the lines of "...minimum wage has improved situation for workers..", "...this or that EU directive has increased this or that, and so-and-so is in Brussels to tell us the story...", "..increased funding for this is beginning to show positive results here.." - I'm sure I sound like a loony, but let's face it, your average politician, local councillor, public official is currently way more likely to receive air time if things go wrong than if they go right. Read the first Terry Pratchett book w.r.t. insurance (and various subsequent ones on related issues, for that matter) and do the maths.

    If I seem to have strayed off target, crime reporting is almost entirely negative, and so it is simply part of a bigger picture.

    Incidentally, this approach is potentially no less investigative - I'm sure that most froggers listen to PM and R4, at least partially, because they consider it the purveyor of accurate and balanced news - and both Today and PM mix things up - but sometimes, enquiry should be valued whatever the outcome.

    I should go to bed - esp. since this thread is unlikely to receive any further attention!

  41. At 12:37 AM on 10 Nov 2006, jonnie wrote:


    Nice to get some feedback from you in regards to the views that some of us have contributed. Unfortunately due to the myriad of topics Eddie has started I’d have probably missed it but for Anasees prompt on another thread.

    As an ex producer of a very popular overnight London phone-in programme for more years than I care to remember I’d like to offer a comment or two.

    Of course it’s always essential to try new and inventive ideas, even more important to captivate your listener as the media becomes more diluted. However, if it isn’t broke don’t fix it. Personally I think from an editorial stance the programme has found the right balance. I do understand your dilemma over personal, emotional accounts not necessarily being newsworthy but in my opinion if they are that powerful it should be worthy of news coverage.

    We used to run a feature called Murder after Midnight where gruesome crimes where analysed in detail. Every week there would be a pile of letters for people who objected even going so far as to involve the then (Radio Authority). When we dummed it down and shifted it forward an hour there was a far bigger bag of mail from protesting listeners who loved the feature – complete with blood and gore.

    Motto: You can’t please all of the people all of the time.

    Peter, judge each story on its own merit but don’t tinker with the format too much it’s evolved into what it is and a credit to you.

    As for the presenter – well that’s a moveable feast – I quite fancy that Kirsty Young’s voice myself – would she have time to shuffle off from TV Centre to Five News and squeeze in the odd Desert Island?

    Only joking Eddie ;-)

  42. At 12:42 AM on 10 Nov 2006, jonnie wrote:

    John (40)

    Just seen your post as I sent mine.

    Same beginning but yours made more sense probably


  43. At 09:17 AM on 10 Nov 2006, Belinda wrote:

    I'm not sure the charge sticks with PM, you'd be hard pushed to find a Radio Four listener who has developed an unrealistic fear of crime by listening to the radio.

    One of the primary reasons that I quit TV and started listening to the radio exclusively was for this very fact. In times of crisis - or percieved crisis - I found that television news gave an OTT, hysterical, fear-filled distortion of whatever was happening, coupled with lingering shots of distress and misery without actually giving me any facts. The radio is far better at bringing across the severity and details of an incident, without resorting to a soap-operaesque "we're all doomed!" mentality.
    During the London bombings, when I was 'trapped' in a temporarily closed-down hospital, I listened to Radio 4 and immediately a) knew exactly what was happening b) felt utterly calm and in control. This was in giant contrast to my family who were watching the aftermath on the television news and more-or-less thought that the whole of London was killed.

  44. At 10:29 AM on 10 Nov 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    What happened to my clever jibe about fear of climate?


  45. At 11:36 AM on 10 Nov 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    John H

  46. At 12:38 PM on 10 Nov 2006, John H. wrote:

    As a thought on the news decisions today - is the story of the couple doused in flammable liquid and set alight in Northern Ireland a story that should be one of the main news items of the day? Effectively, this is a story about a vile, and ultimately murderous, act of violence. Why is it considered a story that should be included in R4 new bulletins? Where is the wider relevance? (I accept that if the perpetrators are found to be paramilitaries, then there will be a wider relevance - but that is not currently known - and so speculation is, well, just that.) Is it not only deemed to be "news" because it is absolutely awful - and so bound to upset people, whilst serving no particular purpose?

  47. At 11:16 PM on 10 Nov 2006, Aperitif wrote:

    Thanks for the "shout " John H (37) but I don't have anything to add to what you have said on this thread. In fact, if Peter is still listening, I'd like him to hear my support for the suggestions that you have made at 40. Sound like a loony? Anyone who challenges apparent mainstream opinion is vulnerable to this accusation. I think you sound very intelligent, thoughtful and likeable (if you're waiting for the punchline there really isn't one). :-)

  48. At 03:16 PM on 11 Nov 2006, John H. wrote:

    Aw, shucks, Drinks! I thought we'd already established that I can do a good enough job of embarrassing myself, without you joining in!

    Are you sure I was "big up"-ing you? Sorry - I listen to R1 a lot and the whole "big up" and "shout out" only ever appealed when it was in Mark & Lard's parody on a Friday - back in the old days.

    As I've driven around today, I've actually been thinking about this a bit - it certainly saved me from the misery of another dire performance from Man City. I just started trying to explore the idea I expressed about "investigative journalism" being capable of delivering positive stories. It really does seem to be all about fundamental attitudes. For example, if a particular NHS PCT introduced a particular programme of treatment and it proved to have positive consequences, you can almost guarantee that the story would be "NHS lottery.."

    If you contrast this with a good example of the Horizon programme, or some of the non-news progs on R4, they seem to celebrate knowledge, progress, etc. The only time positive "national interest" stories appear as a matter of course seems to be when they are generated by "official sources" in which case they are treated as "spin". The only legitimate news angle then seems to be trying to spot the flaws, or contradictions.

    I guess you could say the same about the race relations stories - there must be untold numbers of examples of communities working together, integrating to the benefit of all. You occasionally get a glimpse of one when somebody is threatened with deportation having been resident for an extended period and the community fighting for them to be allowed to stay invariably involves all groups.

    I don't want a happy clappy approach - I just can't help thinking that attempting to shift to a "half full" rather than "half empty" view - when the situation is exactly the same - might give people in this country a reason to feel more positive about what is going on. "I want our community to be like that one" or "I want to see policing like that here" just seems to be such a better attitude to promote than one of cynicism and despair.

    Answers on a postcard, please, to...

  49. At 04:37 PM on 11 Nov 2006, Aperitif wrote:

    Er, no, JH. In fact I'm sure you weren't bigging me up. As I understand it a shout is merely a "hello" or a reference to someone. You dropped my name into a sentence, that's all.

    The "bigging up" was definitely from me to you rather than vice versa, but I felt you deserved it. Other opinions are, of course, availble... ;-)

  50. At 11:56 PM on 12 Nov 2006, John H. wrote:

    Ah, to have lessons from somebody who understands the way "these youngsters" speak. Incidentally, other opinions are indeed available and I think you would be hard pressed to find somebody in agreement with you - but I thank you nonetheless.

    Did you manage to escape arrest on Ed's version of the beach?

  51. At 12:12 PM on 13 Nov 2006, John H. wrote:

    In an idle moment, I went to "the other place" and had a mooch around. In doing this, I came across the picture you posted of you and the PM. It raises questions, I have to tell you - 3 so far. First, are you offering your hand expecting him to kiss it? It does rather look like it. Second, possibly related to the first, possibly not, does TB seem to have an air of surprise or recognition? If the latter (and hand kissing is involved) and I can see Cherry having something to say. Third, why do you appear to be looking straight at the camera? This wouldn't be an issue except for the fact that you are obviously in possession of the photo. Were you preparing for a happy slappy moment?

    One picture, so many questions.

  52. At 04:41 PM on 13 Nov 2006, Aperitif wrote:

    Just trying to push the previous one through.

  53. At 04:50 PM on 13 Nov 2006, Aperitif wrote:

    Ah, it seems "the previous one" isn't going to appear then. And I'd answered all your questions JH. I probably got censored for the graphic detail about my seven nights of passion with TB...

  54. At 05:03 PM on 13 Nov 2006, Aperitif wrote:


  55. At 05:06 PM on 13 Nov 2006, John H. wrote:

    Drinks - hahaha! I can't decide if that was actually just a neat ploy or if you were genuinely trying to poke a wire down the toobs. Of course, with the way this thing works, it could be that the moderating pixies are convening a meeting as I type. I don't have a lot of experience of other blogs (er, none!) but have occasionally provided comments on other sites - one of them will occasionally change the odd word, or delete something, to avoid a comment being rude or offensive - this one just files the under 'B' and you get no feedback.

  56. At 05:55 PM on 13 Nov 2006, Aperitif wrote:

    Nope, it's definitely disappeared.

    Here's a shorter version:

    1. I was expecting neither a kiss upon the hand nor a slap upon the face, but would have rather enjoyed the former.

    2. TB seems to have an air of surprise or recognition? How can you glean that from the back of his head? He can't possibly have recognised me - that was the first time we met. I have bothered him a few times since though - and Cherie has heard me giving him a rather saucy compliment but didn't seem to mind at alll.

    3. Why do I appear to be looking straight at the camera? It was taken by a friend, and I had just noticed her approaching and wielding it. I actually have others from the same occasion in which his face can be seen, but this one amuses me.

    Actually, I think the real reason my earlier post has been moderated is my rant about bad (or is it Very Good in a Very Underhand Way?) journalism in support of - and off on a tangent from - your earlier posting of this: The only time positive "national interest" stories appear as a matter of course seems to be when they are generated by "official sources" in which case they are treated as "spin". The only legitimate news angle then seems to be trying to spot the flaws, or contradictions.

    The pixies are eveidnetly part of the conspiracy. I'm not jokng.

  57. At 06:14 PM on 13 Nov 2006, Aperitif wrote:

    And another shove for the shorter, less controversial version...

  58. At 07:20 PM on 13 Nov 2006, John H. wrote:

    Drinks, I think you've just invented the "shuvva" - innocuous comment sent to frog in order to try to get currently missing comments to appear. This is similar to a text you send to yourself when a text which you know has been sent has not arrived - perhaps because you've been in an area with limited network coverage - to achieve a similar purpose. (Or is that just me?)

    Interesting that your subversive streak was the likely cause of your being skootered. I still suspect that it will appear - perhaps after a couple of days - as has happened before. TB usually seems to have a startled bunny air about him in situations like that (meeting secret lovers in the street, you know the sort of thing). Do you not think? I'm afraid after that, it was all speculation. Or do I mean fabrication?

    As for the explanation of the photo's existence, I'm prepared to believe that. I guess I liked the idea of the happy slappy thing - even though the very thought appals me. It just seems a bit funnier.

    I hope your lost post arrives because the comment on journalism sounds like it would be worth the wait - even if you have attempted to recreate it.

  59. At 08:36 PM on 13 Nov 2006, Aperitif wrote:

    Apologies for the non-amsuing honesty of my earlier post JH. There was a lot more harping in the original one, and a mini-tirade against the owners of the means of communication, who, imo, have replaced the owners of the means of production as the class that the proletariat ought to be thinking about overthrowing, if they want their revolution (big if, of course).

    I think the fact that you can suggest that the PM meets secret lovers in the street, but I can't say that the news media have the power these days supports my theory very elegantly.

    Of course, if this one gets through, my theory is somewhat sidelined; if it doesn't we have concrete evidence to support it - only you will never know...

    The modern dilemma - what medium can we use to expose the media? (Even the Internet needs someone to pick up an individual's idea and run with it, and can be quietened by the more powerful, I contend).

  60. At 08:40 PM on 13 Nov 2006, Aperitif wrote:

    P.S. You text yourself? Nutter.

  61. At 09:01 PM on 13 Nov 2006, John H. wrote:

    Oh dear, it is just me, then. It gets worse, though, because I quite often text myself with stuff I need to remember - names of people, things, etc - when I don't have a pen to hand.

    Slightly surprised that the pixies haven't finally accepted that your comment was OK. Back to that "ploy" theory again. ("Honest, Miss, I did do my homework, but the frog ate it.")

  62. At 10:48 PM on 13 Nov 2006, Aperitif wrote:

    Even nuttier: Why not just type it into your phone and save it? Why send it away to make it come back again????

    You think I would lie to you about frogging? I'm not sure whether to be amused or devastated!

  63. At 09:11 AM on 14 Nov 2006, John H. wrote:

    Drinks (59 et al), they're clearly a cunning lot, these pixies. On the one hand, your original comment still hasn't arrived - supporting the view of heavy handed control. On the other, the one where you challenge the little devils has - oh, how I imagine they are laughing.

    The seriousness of the points is not lost on me, though. In so many ways, the Internet is the means for democratising communication and discussion. But the tendency is for groups to coalesce into communities who share common beliefs - and thus the discussion is inherently polarised - and self-sustaining. Via a friend, I've had a little bit of experience of this recently, in the area of extreme environmental activism (from the "other side", though). I don't think that most right-minded people will ever find the harping of extreme groups a particularly attractive thing.

    The worrying thing is that we all self-select the media we consume and so you can only draw the conclusion that people want the sort of media they choose. But nowhere is immune. I was catching up with some of the THES earlier and read with interest the story sheep-face-recognition-scientist facing censure. An important story, but I couldn't help feeling that there was a certain "self-satisfaction" in the reporting of it. The Higher was involved in breaking the story and they seemed pretty pleased with themselves for doing so. As the story unfolds, it may be that they have carried out an important "public service", but I couldn't help the feeling that they felt they were playing at "real journalism" and quite liked the taste of it. (Obviously, this is a very individual reading of the story...)

    I guess it makes media like R4 even more important and we should air our views about what they do continuously. We can at least then appeal to the "special position" that the BBC holds in the national media.

    I've got a quick "news story" contrast from yesterday. In R4 news bulletins, we heard all about a couple who were presumed to be lost overboard in the Channel - who later turned up at home in Belgium (I think) - impact on the rest of the population: zero. Shock & wow factor: fairly high - lost at sea for goodness sake! Mrs H was travelling back from London on the train - and was delayed because there had been "a fatality" on the track - it caused the west coast main line to be closed (I believe) and trains were backed up and delayed throughout the evening. Impact on a wider community: fairly high. Shock & wow factor: well, I don't know - but as far as I can tell, it didn't even get coverage in the local BBC web pages. I should have checked the travel news, but forgot.

    I don't sit here and say that I know it should be the other way round. I don't know, but it does make me wonder.

    Just going back to the texting thing - I do take your point, but I would just forget. So texting is a bit like a virtual post-it note. I've been known to do with it with mails too - hoping the fact that it's sitting in my inbox (along with the other million...) will prompt me to do something about it. Best be getting along to the new beach...

  64. At 12:56 PM on 14 Nov 2006, Aperitif wrote:

    Only time for a quickie (insert your own joke) but a thought occurs - the widespread coverage of the couple "lost at sea" (didn't know they'd ben found, so thanks for that update) could be seen to be a warning - Always Let Someone Know If You've Changed Your Plans, Otherwise Look at the Worry and Waste of Public Money and Effort that can be Caused - this of course raises questions about the role of the news media; I don't mean to condone/otherwise 'news as warning/ticking off'...

  65. At 03:20 PM on 14 Nov 2006, John H. wrote:

    I agree with this sentiment, Drinks - esp. given the outcome - and actually considered it as I was typing (which obviously took for ever and so allowed for all sorts of peripheral thoughts). But I still think it makes a good discussion point. I think I'm going to pop straight over to today to make some sort of comment about the pixies. Then I will probably try to get on with some work...

  66. At 10:18 PM on 17 Sep 2007, Stewart Hogg wrote:

    Could you please stop telling us that THE GOVERNMENT is to bail out Northern Rock. WE ARE. THEY lost our money. We pay tax. Oyr tax will bail the bank out so those who are in danger of losing their money (along with every taxpayer in the country) are actually PAYING THE GOVERNMENT to give US the MONEY the BANK LOST. The taxpayer, not the government is bailing them out. STOP giving credence to the lie that someone is paying. IT IS US. STOP LYING.

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