"That new traffic light food labelling system, great idea!
Shame it isn't going to be compulsory and that it was so long in coming.
Aren't ASDA a bad lot, though? Hypocrites!
Ah yes, the 'kids dying in custody' story. There's a charity that's really worried about the problem. Such a shame! Our prisons are terrible, so let's give offenders non-custodial sentences instead.
Oh, and ARGOS are going down the pan and have a terrible business model. (Who wants to hear about business anyhow?)
Heh, some mum in North America has untidy kids. We all know about that - and she's blogging about it. Cool! (James Naughtie seems grumpy about it, for some reason).
Maria Miller is, well, quite useless."
Moving on (and on)...and the specified hour of Today (24/10/2012) continued with the 7.40 paper review, where Sarah Montague ran through a couple of "bad" headlines for the BBC's D.G. George Entwistle re the Savile Scandal - from the Telegraph, Independent and Times - before James Naughtie brings in the FT, which is "a little more supportive", followed by more criticism from the Guardian, Mirror, Sun and Daily Mail. Sarah then used a Times cartoon to segue from the BBC story to the government 'u-turn' on the badger cull story, with more criticism of the government from the Mail, Independent and Telegraph. Finally, tougher maths A-levels in the Telegraph. Nothing to see here bias-wise, I'd say, with a good spread of papers, no editorialising and no asides from the presenters.
The paper review was followed by a report from Syria by the BBC's Tim Whewell, bravely reporting from a small rebel-controlled town near Aleppo. As the website puts it, "Despite many calls for more action to end the bloodshed in Syria, western nations have refused to intervene, partly because they say too little is known about the rebels fighting President Assad's regime. BBC reporter Tim Whewell went to Mare'a, a little town under regular bombardment just north of Aleppo, to find out what rebels are fighting and dying for."
This was a preview of a Newsnight report to be broadcast later that day. The report, as heard on Today, can be summarised as follows: The people in the town can't understand why the West (including Britain) isn't intervening. The West doesn't entirely trust the rebels though. A rebel leader with a glossy black beard says they are not extremists, but moderate Muslims. Tim goes to a makeshift court where three smugglers are on trial. They make an oath and are free to go. Will Islamic practice become more important? A local headsman says sharia law should come first as it has proved itself over 14 centuries but other laws should be grafted onto it to make it suitable for different communities, including minorities. The rebels say they want an inclusive Syria after the war. A local activist fears that if the West stays out of Syria they will bring about the very thing they fear - that the extremists will gain in importance. Unfilled graves are dug in cemeteries in preparation for more deaths.
Is that report biased? I have no idea. Overall, it presents a reassuring picture of the rebels and seems to be saying that Western intervention may be a good thing. That is what the people in Tim's report are telling us. Is it also what Tim is telling us? It's hard to tell sometimes.
As for things being 'hard to tell', it was certainly hard to tell what the point of the day's Though For The Day was. If this was an exercise in Gramscian thought control, it was an overly subtle one. The speaker was Rev Joel Edwards, international director of Micah Challenge (and advisor to the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, something which rarely gets mentioned on Today for some reason). You can read the transcript here. It seems to be about crime and justice. Peter Hearty's take on the talk over at Platitude Of The Day will give you a good flavour of it:
"Waffle, waffle, waffle, twilight zone, waffle, waffle, good and evil, waffle, waffle, old as hills, waffle, waffle, waffle, professionals, charities, waffle, waffle,
People of faith waffle, waffle, waffle. As the Chief Rabbi said waffle, waffle, waffle. Martin Luther King waffle, waffle.
This just goes to show the real practical value of faith.
Waffle, waffle, waffle, inmates into citizens, waffle, waffle, waffle."