Wednesday 16 April 2014

Probing and pranging

In a former blogging life (at Beeb Bias Craig and Biased BBC), I might have posted something tonight about how Sky News is prominently featuring the headline Ed Balls Facing Police Probe Over Car Prang on its website, adding that it's one of their Top 10 stories. 

I'd then have gone on to note that the BBC website doesn't feature the story among its main headlines at all, merely relegating it to its Politics page with the headline [visible from its home page] Police probe Ed Balls car prang

I'd then have pointed out that the Sky headline makes it crystal clear that Ed Balls did the pranging and is facing the probing - unlike the BBC headline, which is ambiguous, leaving it unclear whether the police are probing someone else for pranging Ed Balls's car or whether they are probing Ed Balls for pranging someone else's car. 

Were this the me of five years ago, I'd have followed that up by hinting - or more likely asserting - that is suggestive of pro-Labour bias on the BBC's part with the pro-Labour BBC headline writing deliberately composing an ambiguous headline so as to spare the shadow chancellor - and his party - his blushes. 

To amplify that point I would have noted that the Sky News article ends with more embarrassment for Mr Balls....
It is not the first time Mr Balls' driving has come to the attention of the police.
Last year he admitted he was caught "bang to rights" speeding at 56mph in a 50mph zone on the M62 in his constituency.
In 2010 he was fined £60 and given three points on his licence after being caught using a mobile phone while driving on a dual carriageway in Milton Keynes.
At the time, he said: "It was a fair cop."
....while the BBC article chooses not to mention any of that at all, thus sparing Ed Balls's blushes yet further. 

At which point I'd have added something sarcastic like, "Lucky Balls!".

I'd have also pointed out that Sky talks of the Labour man having "admitted" something while the BBC merely says he "said" something, and that the BBC's version - as a result - sounds less damaging. 

Really getting into my stride, I'd then have gone on to point out the striking difference in tone and confidence between Sky's opening paragraph....
Ed Balls is facing a police investigation after hitting a car and driving off without reporting it.
...and the BBC's more cautious, low-key take:
Police are looking into an incident in which senior Labour politician Ed Balls allegedly drove off after his vehicle hit a parked car.
Finally, I'd have brought out the big statistical guns and blogged the fact that a 140 words out of a total of 279 in the BBC article (i.e. literally over half - just!) are given over to directly quoting Ed Balls, which amounts to 50.2% of the article, while Sky only gives over 71 words to directly quotes from Mr Balls out of a total of 289, which amounts to 24.6% of their article. 

That, I'd have asserted, showed that the BBC was given Ed Balls a much larger say that Sky News. 

Yes, that's what I'd have done a few years ago. 

Nowadays, of course, I'd never think of doing anything like that. And rightly so.

1 comment:

  1. of course not, Craig......but just as well you did....and what do we know about the owner of the car that was allegedly pranged? there may be even more to this story yet!


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