Sunday 8 December 2013

Nelson and Margaret

This morning's Sunday on Radio 4 did seem like a Nelson Mandela special, but first impressions (and, perhaps, my own biases) misled me into thinking there was more of it than there actually was. 

Counting up all the time devoted to Nelson Mandela revealed that Sunday devoted just over 38% of the programme this morning to his memory. 

I wondered how that compared to their coverage of Margaret Thatcher's death back in April. 

Well, doing the sums on that edition of the programme revealed that they devoted 34.5% of that edition to her memory.

Which isn't radically different.

The real difference between those two editions of the programme, however, lies with how their respective subjects were commemorated. 

On today's programme we heard nothing but admiring voices about Nelson Mandela - ranging from a Labour shadow minister to the Chief Rabbi, from a former Archbishop of Capetown to a reverend from the Dutch Reform Church.

Contrast that with the Margaret Thatcher edition back in April. 

Back then we heard from three guests - and only one of them was an admirer of the Iron Lady (namely, Harvey Thomas). The other two guests were a left-leaning bishop (not a great admirer of Mrs T) and a historian who's an active member of the Labour Party! 

That kind of says it all, doesn't it? 'Bias by guest selection', wouldn't you say?

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