Saturday, 13 May 2017

The Times They Are a-Changin'



How far things have come since the early days of blogs about BBC bias!

The kind of criticisms of 'BBC left-wing bias' that blogs like this have been making since the early years of the last decade have become more mainstream. You especially see them in the comments sections of right-leaning sites across the internet, including newspaper and magazine websites. There's few things that animate the readers of such sites than talk of BBC bias. Defenders of the BBC, of course, would say that the comments across such sites are made by the same kind of people (often literally the same people), so, even though it may appear to have become more mainstream, it's still really just 'a bubble'. However, if you compare and contrast two YouGov opinion polls (which no one believes anymore unless it suits them to), one from 2013 and one from 2017, you find that the number of people who think the BBC has a pro-Left bias has risen from 17% to 28%. That suggests that discontent has grown more mainstream. 

The biggest change, however, has been the sudden explosion of left-wing fury at the BBC. It's something I've mainly seen on Twitter, where it absolutely overwhelms right-wing fury at the BBC. It's like a parallel universe, where 'right-wing plants' in the studio audience for BBC One's Question Time and the far-right political views of QT producers are raged over in almost exactly the same way as, in bygone years, 'left-wing plants' in the studio audience for BBC One's Question Time and the far-left political views of QT editors have been raged over by people on the another side of the political spectrum. 

And from it have exploded a huge number of highly-read left-leaning sites with a heavy focus on 'BBC right-wing bias', most famously The Canary, but also Evolve Politics and Another Angry Voice. Facebook, apparently, is full of such stuff too. Again, there's few things that animate the readers of such sites than talk of BBC bias. According to the guy who runs Evolve Politics, criticism of the BBC’s political coverage is the top "traffic driver" for his site (and given what I see on Twitter, that doesn't surprise me in the slightest.) And such comments are becoming more mainstream on left-leaning sites, including left-leaning newspapers and magazines. Does that reflect more than a counter-'bubble' though? Going back to those two YouGov polls, the number of people who think the BBC has a pro-Right bias has risen from 4% to 18% over the past four years. (Still significantly less than those who think it's biased towards the Left though).

None of that is exactly good news for the BBC, given that, nowadays, some 46% of YouGov respondents ('nearly half the country!') think the BBC is politically biased. Yes, the BBC can shout 'Complaints From Both Sides!' (see the previous post for more on that logical fallacy), but it shows a growth in disillusion with the BBC from the politically-committed across a substantial part of the political spectrum (excepting the centre and the centre-left who seem to be the BBC's main defenders). To break out of that the BBC would have to recruit far more widely and make a determined effort to break its own predominantly 'soggy left' groupthink (as may possibly have been said before). 

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