Saturday 22 March 2014

Beating about the (Kate) Bush

Sticking with last night's Newsnight, the last post argued that the programme's coverage of the DNA database issue was biased. This one will argue that the piece that followed was biased too.

Again, though, the bias was somewhat off the beaten track.

Newsnight does seem to be obsessed fascinated by stories about social media - Facebook, Twitter, etc. I don't think that last night's feature on the Turkish government's ban on Twitter should be put down to that obsession fascination though. Most media organisations were rightly very interested in reporting the story of a 'democratic government' behaving in a manner more fitting a Central Asian dictatorship, and Newsnight was right to cover such a big story. 

So where was the bias? 

Well, both guests (American sociologist Zeynep Tufekci and Turkish writer Elif Shafak) were critics of the Turkish government's actions  and both are enthusiastic proponents of social media. So we had two women saying much the same thing. 

Now, is this really "bias"? Or is it merely "a lack of balance"? And what about the DNA database story?

Doesn't "bias" entail a conscious or unconscious inclination? Whereas maybe - just maybe - Ian Katz & Co. have absolutely no conscious or unconscious inclination in favour of a national genome database, & maybe the lack of balance in this segment was wholly accidental. Caspar Bowden clearly thought that the DNA database story was consciously biased ("propaganda"). He might have been jumping to conclusions though.

The Turkish government and its supporters might also have found this section deliberately biased too, given that Newsnight didn't make much of an attempt to give their side of the argument (to put it mildly).

"Biased" or merely "unbalanced" then? 

On a story like this - when freedom of speech and the freedom of social media sites (like blogs) at the matter at hand, and when the government in the firing line is the Islamist Erdogan government of Turkey - I've very few qualms about letting the BBC off the hook...cos I'm biased, and it's a bias I can live with, and even climb on board...

...but I suspect that the charge of "bias" is much clearer here, in that it must be so obvious to Newsnight that any attempt to ban Twitter, for whatever reason, is just wrong, plain wrong, that it might never have even crossed their minds to invite someone on to put the other side of the argument.

To which, as a blogger, I say "Good!"

Incidentally, as some blogs have a tendency to make either Friday or Saturday night their 'Music Night', that's all the excuse I need - plus the fact that this edition of Newsnight ended with a glimpse of Kate Bush braving the 1970s BBC and making her first appearance on Top of the Pops (wonder who hosted that edition?)...

So here's Kate as you may never have heard her before, singing 'Sexual Healing' (yes, 'Sexual Healing'). I doubt Recep Tayyip Erdogan would approve.


  1. Kate wrote "The Man with the child in his eyes".
    That`s all you need to know about her...she need never work again, just bask in the just reward for her genius.
    Anything else is a bonus.

    1. That's my favourite Kate Bush song. Quite amazing to have written it at the age of 13.


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