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Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Balanced broadcasters? Don't bank on it...

Our ‘impartial’ broadcasters have become mouthpieces of the elite http://gu.com/p/453g6

This is a piece by columnist George Monbiot, a prominent left-wing environmentalist (who can be seen in one of Russell Brand's regular YouTube videos); he argues:
The illusion of neutrality is one of the reasons for the rotten state of journalism, as those who might have been expected to hold power to account drift thoughtlessly into its arms.
He details a scandal at the Canadian equivalent of the BBC before examining the BBC's highly partial, biased reportage of the economic crisis and the austerity policy that our three major parties have all agreed upon. As you read this, consider that Chomsky's propaganda model has 'source strategies' as one of the five filters, with flak (for any foolhardy enough to question austerity) also an issue here, alongside the anti-Communism (i.e., anti-left-wing) filter too:

A study by academics at the Cardiff School of Journalism examined the BBC Today programme’s reporting of the bank bailouts in 2008. It discovered that the contributors it chose were “almost completely dominated by stockbrokers, investment bankers, hedge fund managers and other City voices. Civil society voices or commentators who questioned the benefits of having such a large finance sector were almost completely absent from coverage.” The financiers who had caused the crisis were asked to interpret it.The same goes for discussions about the deficit and the perceived need for austerity. The debate has been dominated by political and economic elites, while alternative voices – arguing that the crisis has been exaggerated, or that instead of cuts, the government should respond with Keynesian spending programmes or taxes on financial transactions, wealth or land – have scarcely been heard. Those priorities have changed your life: the BBC helped to shape the political consensus under which so many are now suffering.The BBC’s business reporting breaks its editorial guidelines every day by failing to provide alternative viewpoints. Every weekday morning, the Today programme grovels to business leaders for 10 minutes. It might occasionally challenge them on the value or viability of their companies, but hardly ever on their ethics. Corporate critics are shut out of its business coverage – and almost all the rest.On BBC News at Six, the Cardiff researchers found, business representatives outnumbered trade union representatives by 19 to one. “The BBC tends to reproduce a Conservative, Eurosceptic, pro-business version of the world,” the study said. This, remember, is where people turn when they don’t trust the corporate press.
He points out the incredible absence of reportage on environmental issues:
While the way in which the media handle the stories that are covered is bad enough, the absence of coverage is even worse. If an issue does not divide the main political parties, it vanishes from view, though the parties now disagree on hardly anything. Another study reveals a near total collapse of environmental coverage on ITV and BBC news: it declined from 2.5% (ITV) and 1.6% (BBC) of total airtime in 2007 to, respectively, 0.2% and 0.3% in 2014. There were as many news stories on these outlets about Madeleine McCann in 2014 – seven years after her disappearance – as there were about all environmental issues put together.
His conclusion is worth reading carefully:
Those entrusted to challenge power are the loyalists of power. They rage against social media and people such as Russell Brand, without seeing that the popularity of alternatives is a response to their own failures: their failure to expose the claims of the haut monde, their failure to enlist a diversity of opinion, their failure to permit the audience to see that another world is possible. If even the public sector broadcasters parrot the talking points of the elite, what hope is there for informed democratic choice?
Accustomed to flak, Monbiot is always scrupulous with sourcing his points - a habit you should develop as students moving on to higher academia.

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