Sunday 24 November 2013

Passing by

This week's Newswatch highlighted another instance of what some (including yours truly) see as the BBC's anti-science bias.

Here are two e-mails the programme received:
I am curious to know the editorial justification behind the vastly different treatment given by BBC News to two British Nobel laureates who recently passed away. The author Doris Lessing was given a detailed obituary on the website, and her death was the top story reported on television news that day. The biochemist Fred Sanger who received two Nobel prizes for his important work in protein and DNA sequencing, did not receive even a cursory mention on the 6.00 pm news programme.
Why such scant coverage of Frederick Sanger's life and achievements on BBC News? Is this symptomatic of the lack of  understanding of progress in science, and lack of those with a science background working within the BBC?
You can see for yourselves the disparity in the BBC website's coverage by a simple search. On the 17th November, there was a full-length article, a full obituary, three video reports and one audio report for Doris Lessing, with another audio tribute the following day. Dr Sanger, in contrast, received just one full-length article on 20 November. 

Still, at least Last Word, Radio 4's obituary programme, covered both Doris Lessing and Fred Sanger.

They also covered broadcaster and gay rights campaigner Ray Gosling, GCHQ whistleblower Jock Kane, and folk music record producer Austin John Marshall. 


  1. Craig-if you want to take the temperature of bien-pensant lefty reflexes, I`d argue that Last Word is nearly on a par with Sunday...which you have faithfully covered, so the rest of us get a lie in.
    I can predict, usually at least 75-80% of who the BBC will lionise...and there`s got to be a sweepstake here.
    Of course not ALL the names will be known to us-but the archetypes that the BBC require are totally predictable, and come round on the conveyor belt as regular as a Generation Game cuddly toy, circa 1975!
    Will happily give you the science involved...but you`ll know who the BBC would like us to cherish in oblivion...not fear in their death.
    If you`re a Latina druggies gangstas moll, or did some gay studies crap next door to Ginsberg at`re in.
    If you quietly saved lives, taught children or were a Christian...back of the queue, and hardly the "Good Rebellion" now were you?

  2. I'm not sure it's an anti-science bias at the BBC as much as their ignorance. In their metropolitan bubble, filled almost entirely with left-wing types mostly interested in politics, the media, literature, theatre, etc, science doesn't even enter into their echo-chamber.

    Melvyn Bragg (R4 In Our Time) is the honourable exception.


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