Saturday 11 April 2015

Woe on the Border(s)

By a curious coincidence, both ITV News and BBC Radio 4's Today broadcast election reports from the same constituency with a day of each other this week.

That constituency was Penrith and the Border. 

As that's both my childhood and my ancestral stamping ground, I was very interested in both reports.

Oddly, the BBC chose, consistently, to misname the constituency 'Penrith and the Borders'. There's, in fact, no 's' on the last word of the constituency's name - something ITV got right. (Quite why a lavishly-resourced media outlet like the BBC can't even get the name of the constituency right is beyond me).

ITV's report presents the Penrith and the Border - the most sparsely populated in England - in all its complexity. 

Agriculture and tourism are key industries. Small businesses are everywhere, employing more than 90% of local people. Unemployment is almost non-existent, but wages are low. The constituency's remoteness is a concern - especially given the money that floods into Manchester and Scotland in comparison. Voters are worried about the neglect of rural concerns and the rate of VAT (they'd like to see it reduced). The young are worried about the economy, the environment and social justice.

ITV features the candidates from the Conservatives (sitting MP Rory Stewart), the Lib Dems, Labour and UKIP.

Turn, however, to Matthew Price's report on this morning's Today and a far gloomier, much more monochrome picture appears. 

Given that, as ITV reports, unemployment is very low in Penrith and the Borders, with less than 1% of people claiming Job Seekers Allowance, please see what you make of the opening of Matthew's Today report - which focused primarily on "the cuts":
There's a sound that echoes off the dry-stone walls around here less often these days. Its disappearance from the lanes is having a profound impact on school children, families, pensioners, workers. It's the sound of a bus that's no longer just about to arrive. The lack of that sound cost Peter Prudow his job. The council, facing budget cuts, stopped subsidising routes. The bus companies ceased operating less profitable buses. The 25-mile service from Peter's home in Kirkby Stephen to Poundstretchers in Kendal, where he worked, ended. Peter Prudow is the human cost of council budget cuts, isolated and on the dole. 

The Women's Institute is taking action about "the cuts" too. Problems with high-speed broadband are annoying people. A land owners' representative says they feel isolated. A postmaster says politicians tell lies. 

And that, basically, was that from the BBC: Cuts, unemployment, isolation, more cuts, broadband issues, lying politicians. 

I think the ITV report was far more informative. The BBC report had the feel of a BBC reporter arriving with a pre-set story and telling it regardless.


Incidentally (as an aside), one of Rory Stewart's colleagues was less than impressed:


  1. Sorry, Craig, the Beeboids need to spend a lot of time learning how to pronounce Spanish and Arabic cities and countries properly. No time for those impenetrable regional names.

    Blame Price's editor as well. These things aren't spontaneous, the whim of a reporter on the scene. He was sent on a mission to make a story about nasty Tory budget cuts destroying lives, and he did his job.

    1. He's very good at fulfilling those missions, David.

    2. Oh, absolutely, I'm just saying that it's time we expanded the sphere of blame.

  2. "(Quite why a lavishly-resourced media outlet like the BBC can't even get the name of the constituency right is beyond me)"

    Not too surprising. Their knowledge of UK geography is horrendous. The most recent example was moving Hastings into Kent!

    They consistently get the names of their own people wrong. Ritula Shah's name is usually announced as Ritterla, apparently a soft 'th' should be used for the t and the u should be heard. She patiently tries to educate her colleagues & listeners every time she presents The World Tonight. Mishal Hussein is another victim and frequently referred to as Michelle. Kosovo is almost always pronounced KosoVOE when natives & the public who have had any contact with them or the place call it KOSSova. There are many more examples that could be listed.

  3. Well let's not get carried away...we don't want the BBC pronouncing Paris as "Pa-ree" or Moscow as "Mosk-va". There's nothing wrong with us having our own pronunciation for foreign place names. People's own names - that's a little different of course.

    1. But that foreign pronunciation's creeping in. Chile is more often than not pronounced "Chillay" than "Chilly", and if the BBC had it's way "Falklands" would be pronounced "Malvinas".

    2. Mum-bye is all I have to say on that... :)

    3. OK, that would fine but let's be consistent with it. BBC Radio 4 are not, have not been and show no sign of being consistent in future. IIRC, they have made cutbacks in the Pronunciation Dept.

      In addition, if they have 'a duty to inform & educate' should they not be helping us to pronounce foreign names correctly as a measure of respect for our neighbours in global world?

      I do wonder at times if Continuity & News staff do it deliberately and run 'books' on how many letters of complaint a deliberate slip might produce. Of course, that sort of playfulness that exists in offices & businesses could, would never happen at the Beeb.

      Could it? :-)

  4. Jesse is my MP. He has expressed an interest in helping me pursue my DPA complaint if the BBC (and, sadly, a new level of ICO jobsworth) continue to prove... 'reluctant' to grasp that chasing round the internet trying to connect posters critical of the BBC with a vast conspiracy is at best paranoid, and at worst, actually, illegal.

    Jesse was once one of those 'envy of the world' BBCphiles much enamoured of the Daily Politics sofa (that can be withdrawn if you don't play nice), but has gone up against the Whip & Dave on matters of principle and, I'd like to think in part to little shares I send his way, grasping a national broadcaster allowed to be inaccurate and prejudicial may not be ideal.


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