Saturday, April 07, 2018

Quote of the day 7th April 2018

“Do not adjust your set. Normal service from the BBC means you will hear people you disagree with saying things you don’t like. That’s our job.”

Impartiality is difficult. Perhaps never more so than in recent years when deep divides have opened up over Brexit, Scottish independence and inside both our major parties. We don’t always get it right. However, there is still a powerful case for impartial broadcast journalism that seeks to inform rather than influence, or sway, or respond to commercial imperatives, staffed by people who – regardless of their personal background or private views – are committed to delivering what Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein calls “the best obtainable version of the truth” and offering their audience a free, open and broad debate. The alternative is news that largely broadcasts people you like saying things you agree with.

I say as gently as I can to people on both sides of the Brexit argument – be careful what you wish for.

(Nick Robinson repeats the message he gave a year ago to people on the pro-leave side who think that the BBC is biased against them, but this time aimed at extreme remainders like Andrew Adonis who takes the opposite view and think that the BBC has been taken over by Leave supporters. Adonis has even been calling the BBC the "Brexit Broadcasting Corporation."

You can read Nick Robinson's defence of the principle of impartial journalism in the New Statesman  here, and another article in the same magazine about the row between the BBC and the arch-Remainers here.

Iain Martin has a rather less serious examination here of the Adonis view,

"Revealed: an A to Z guide to the Brexit Broadcasting Corporation,"

FWIW, from my perspective having eventually voted Remain after much agonising and been deeply annoyed by the vast amount of nonsense produced by both sides during the referendum, I think the BBC have been trying fairly hard to give both sides of the argument despite many of it's senior journalists - with some obvious exceptions such as Andrew Neil - being so instinctively pro-Remain that some of them find this difficult.

They have been trying hard enough to present the pro Brexit side of the argument that they have infuriated Remain ultras likes Lord Adonis but I cannot take his argument that the BBC is trying so hard not to be pro-Remain that it has become pro-Leave at all seriously. That isn't how it comes over to me, even though I voted Remain; the words "cloud-cuckoo land" spring to mind.

I think Nick Robinson's defence of the principle of news broadcasters trying to be impartial, rather than having competing news stations for each point of view and everyone turning to the channel which tells them want to hear, makes some valid points.)

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