Sunday 31 August 2014

Acceptance Speech

Sometimes I think there should be a reality show just for bloggers about BBC bias. Then we could all tell the world about our "journey". In lieu of that, I'll use this post instead to blah on about my "journey" with Radio 4's Sunday....

I've listened to every edition of the programme for well over three years now and, a couple of years back, finding it to be among the most reliably biased of all BBC programmes, thought it might make a great case study to launch a new experimental blog about BBC bias. 

I'd been led to that decision by my initial forays into analysing it, very snarkily, in the comments field at the Biased BBC blog over the preceding year or two. 

When I began this blog with Sue I was determined to analyse it in a more balanced, quasi-professorial manner than at Biased BBC and my early posts on the subject here seem to me, looking back, to be painstaking, spot-on and deadly dull. 

As often happens on blogs like this, I then simultaneously relaxed and radicalised myself, and the snarky tone returned - albeit, being Is the BBC biased?, in a rather more restrained fashion than before.

Then a strange thing began to happen. It began to dawn on me that I actually really liked Sunday, for all its faults and biases. Yes, it would irritate me sometimes, but it also intrigues and pleases me too. I like Ed, and William, and have always liked Samira. Some of its subject matter interests me a lot and, yes, Sunday can, on occasions, be very good indeed. My professorial side began to emerge again.

My pet project has, therefore, become something like a pet to me, and I'm finding myself wanting to stroke it more and more often. (Ed Stourton is purring on my lap at this very moment). But I'm still aware of the bias...

Take today's edition, for example - one of the least obviously biased for some time.

As someone who feels as if I know the programme like the back of my hand, I didn't surprise me in the least that it began with the calls from the Archbishop of York for the UK to grant asylum to Christians from Iraq. As regular readers of this blog will know, such calls from prominent clergyman have been leading the programme for weeks now and, as a result, I've been complaining for at least a month that the programme's one-sided coverage of those calls (in whatever numbers, and regardless of the UK population's concerns about mass immigration) has begun to give the impression of bias on the programme's part - a bias that is approaching campaigning for a particular position by dint of being so one-sided. I find that mildly irritating, but the feature on Iraq that followed today was a valuable piece of broadcasting and more than made up for it. 

Similarly, someone I have repeatedly called "Sunday's favourite bishop", that nice Bishop Nick Baines, made yet another appearance this week, giving us an audio diary. Bishop Nick was due to appear a couple of weeks ago to push for the "UK asylum for Iraqis" cause but, unusually for him, couldn't make it. That this nice liberal bishop is a programme favourite smacks of liberal bias, but his audio diary was interesting and he's a nice man, and I enjoyed his contribution today....

....and another Sunday favourite, Martin Palmer, was also on plugging his latest initiative - just as he's been allowed to plug his initiatives before on the programme, as I (a regular listener) know very well. Yet he was fascinating today on Confucianism and I was very glad to have heard him...

....and I've also noted before that Sunday has its favourite charities (Islamic Relief, Cafod and Tearfund) and here was a spokeswoman from Tearfund discussing Iraq, yet her contribution was one of the most powerful I've heard on the radio for some time and needed hearing....

.....and, yes, the programme's old liberal Catholic Tabletista concern about the Ordinariate is something I've touched on before, today's take was surprisingly sympathetic and enjoyable. 

My one niggle was with the closing discussion on Rotherham which was between a couple of 'BBC Muslims' [i.e. the kind of Muslims the BBC invites onto programmes like Sunday, often very familiar to seasoned BBC watchers] - a Respect councillor and a Muslim convert - and led to much tiptoeing around the heart of the matter. That bias is one the BBC seems to be finding particularly hard to break away from. 

So, you see, that's my "journey" with Radio 4's Sunday. I'd like to thank Sue, my family, God, Gwyneth Paltrow, et al, for making this all possible. I love you all. Thank you and good night.

Oh, and the usual review of today's Sunday will follow before the night is out. Bate your breaths!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you , yet again ; for your sterling work re "Sunday".
    I read it faithfully, and comment more often than not specifically to what is said.
    The service afterwards was better than usual...that`s two weeks running.
    Maybe our Muslim Head of Religious Affairs at the BBC is on hajj, or something.
    As you do Sunday-I`ve made a bit of a stab at "Thinking Allowed"...which is the BBCs church at prayer, as far as I can tell.
    I noted %interruptions of Douglas Murray on a recent Newsnight with Wark and Ming...and this is the wider shore of liberal acceptance of anything not lefty.
    A Plimsoll Line of Prejudice.
    Keep up the great work you both`d be surprised at how influential it may yet turn out to be here at the University of Wessex! my head at the mo!
    May we all walk your ricepaper glasshopper!


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