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The silence of the Beeb

Posted by Richard Friday, November 05, 2010


Never let it be said that the media wastes a good idea. After Steve Bell played around with the theme yesterday, the Independent has its go today. I think I prefer the Steve Bell version. At least, with the BBC journalists on strike, we are spared some even more witty comment, although I have to confess that, had I not read it in the newspaper, I would have been unaware of the BBC's abstention. One would dearly love it if the silence continued.

As to the rest of the media's outpourings, one continues to find the gap between perception and reportage growing. It is thus difficult to take anything it has to offer very seriously. Years of charting its output, combined with my current task, is leading me to the conclusion that there is no such thing as "news" in the sense that the media would have us believe.

News reporting is not a matter of discovering and publishing facts. Rather it is a process of gathering accounts from a very limited number of approved sources, and stitching them together to provide a defensible narrative. Any relationship with actual events, much less the truth, is entirely coincidental - and usually accidental.

Funnily enough, journos will argue that their output is the "first draft of history". More and more I would dispute that. It most certainly is a version of history, but most usually one which cannot be relied upon as a record of what happened. The closest some of them will ever get to accuracy is today – as long as they are BBC journos waving their banners outside the television centre.

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