Real news, not views

This interesting letter will soon be arriving on the BBC Director General’s desk.

If you listen to the ‘Today’ programme you will know they now occasionally review ‘Buzzfeed’ and the ‘Huffington Post’ as well as the more traditional press. It is indeed a notable omission that they don’t ever review the ‘New European’, though it is only a weekly – but then so is the ‘Sunday Times’.

Actually, more importantly, I think the BBC has no business reviewing newspapers at all.

If the BBC read the newspapers and discover they have missed a major news story then certainly they should hurry up and cover it. Yet this is not what we get. The paper review is invariably an opportunity for the rebroadcasting of the hackneyed opinions of the mostly highly fact free and yet highly opinionated newspapers.

In this context reviewing the newspapers amounts to advertising. The BBC should be concentrating on the news itself not reviews of reports of it. It is a complete and unwelcome distraction.

The paper review far too often allows the news narrative to sail along on tramlines set by the press and the billionaire class that controls much of it.
So the editor of the ‘New European’ won’t thank me for it but my open letter to the BBC is to request that BBC news programmes be re-purposed for real news please, not a review of somebody else’s reporting of what they think it is.


  1. Ivan Horrocks -

    I think we all know why the BBC reviews what it reviews, Peter: it’s scared stiff of anti-BBC stories in The Mail, Telegraph and Murdoch’s dog whistle publications. And of course it knows that the current (and previous) government will use any less than positive portrayal of the BBC in the right wing (Brexit) press as an excuse threaten to take action against the BBC – which is exactly what happens. So, they are caught between a rock and a hard place. Add to that the right-wing/Conservative tendencies of key people associated with the Today programme and you have a perfect storm. It’ll never change until the BBC charter process is totally removed from political influence.

  2. Sean Danaher -

    I quite often buy the new European and display it prominently between the hoards of Daily Mail buying Tories in my local Ponteland Waitrose.

    I think newspaper opinion pieces should be banned from the BBC. It really used to annoy me that the latest fake ant-climate change nonsense from the Mail on Sunday would be given prominence. Ever more so when Nigel Lawson would come on to debate climate change, spouting complete garbage normally against a genuine expert. As Mark Twain said “Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.”

    Fortunately with Climate Change the BBC does finally seem to realise the difference between objectivity and relativism.

    The covering of the George Soros non-story is depressing. The BBC repeating a propaganda piece in the Torygraph. If there were balance, tracing down the hundreds of millions of dirty money that was channeled towards the Leave campaign through the DUP should have been mentioned.

  3. Graham -

    We in Scotland have this problem in spades. There is one Independence supporting daily, The National, another on Sunday – the rest are Unionist supporting and they all, (including that holier-than-thou formerly radical Grauniad) run anti-SNP/Scottish Government headlines, often distorted, partial, half-truths or even made up with little reference to evidence. These all get prominent exposure, so I’m told (I’ve stopped listening and I don’t have tv) on the review of the papers slot. Meanwhile, they refuse to examine the Labour or Conservative Parties and subject them to the same sort of vilification, or even moderate criticism and examination, that they apply to the SNP. Like others I don’t think it has any business reviewing newspapers which are almost all virulently right wing.

    My opinion of the BBC is that it’s institutionally corrupt, in that it supports the Establishment/Government-of-the-day and gives undue prominence to allegedly independent sources such as the IFS without ever examining the supposed “independence” of such experts who seem to form a go-to clique.

    Tom Mills book “The BBC: Myth of a public service” exposes it as an arm of the Establishment.

    For a service that is supposedly required to be impartial it provides no independent, rigorous evidence that it meets that requirement. It’s complaints procedure is risibly byzantine and it rarely admits to error.

    1. Peter May -

      To my regret, I can’t fault any of that…
      Tony Benn used to say political journalists were like courtiers – and I think that’s a good comparison.
      But taking into account Ivan’s comment, I cannot see why the BBC is so spineless. What, exactly, are they frightened of?

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