Sunday 24 May 2015

Paper Review

As Sunday morning sees paper review after paper review across the BBC, here's ITBB's own selection from the Sunday papers.

First, this from The Sunday Times in an article headlined, 'Toe the line or the tartan trolls will get you in Sturgeon’s state':
Others, including the writer JK Rowling and the BBC journalists Nick Robinson and James Cook, have been relentlessly abused online by SNP supporters.
One BBC Scotland journalist said: “The online abuse is one thing but the party’s behaviour is another. The SNP seems to complain about every single story, no matter how innocuous it is. I get the sense they want to bog us down and make us reluctant to ask hard questions. Who wants to be constantly dealing with complaints?”
Then there's this from The Spectator where Fraser Nelson argues that the BBC needs to have the Eurovision Song Contest taken away from it because, as the man who used to run the BBC's coverage of it says, "The corporation is useless at entertainment...and no longer has anyone in its hierarchy who understands it":
Britain is a stickler for tradition and each May we now observe a relatively new one: we bomb in the Eurovision Song Contest. The protocol now is well-established. Our entry is chosen by a BBC bureaucrat who appears to loathe the whole contest.....
The BBC is not the first to try to ask an anonymous bureaucrat to choose a song that is expected to be popular with the masses. This happened every year with Intervision, the Soviet equivalent of Eurovision, which ended in abysmal failure. The difference between the formats epitomised why the West won: ours was colourful, humorous, raucous, and even in the 1950s produced some of the most memorable popular tunes. While Soviet entrants were told to show ‘socialist dignity’, Eurovision was producing songs designed to be sung on the way back home from the pub (Exhibit A: ‘Volare’, Italy’s 1958 entry). Tito’s Yugoslavia banned radio stations from playing music that was ‘capitalist’ or ‘kitsch’.
The BBC evinces the same bureaucratic snobbery and lack of comprehension. 
AA Gill, writing in The Sunday Times, doesn't seem to be a fan of BBC One's Shark either:
Lots of people have mentioned Shark to me, mostly old ladies. They say it’s really wonderful: a BBC nature series that sets out to rehabilitate sharks. This, for some inexplicably pixelated reason, also reminded me of the Labour party. It’s very good, post-Attenborough, Bristol nature programming that measured the scientific against the naturalistic and had just the right amount of fact to awe. And it was well worth someone’s licence fee money — not mine, of course. I don’t want to pay for programmes about nonces or sharks behaving like Chuka Umunna.
Writing more generally about the BBC, he also says:
The BBC is like the Labour party. I know, it’s always been like the Labour party, but right now it’s losing its audience, its way and its confidence, and it doesn’t know whether to go back to its core, Reithian roots or push on and try to be more like modern cable TV. It’s transfixed by the contradiction, and we all wish it well, really we do, but I also wish they made it easier to believe that they knew what was in our best interest. 
I can't say I'm with Adrian though in wishing that the BBC would make it easier for us to believe that they knew what was in our best interest, as we've had far too much of that kind of thing already, thank you very much!


  1. I get the sense they want to bog us down and make us reluctant to ask hard questions. Who wants to be constantly dealing with complaints?”

    The BBC reacts to that situation in two ways. One the one hand, in what is surely the vast majority of cases, they treat the complaints with contempt, and have a set of ready boilerplate responses to dismiss them. In some cases, it seems they then deliberately put something on air just to rub it in the noses of people they know will be upset.

    On the other hand, of course, we know that they become very timid on issues like Israel, and will adjust their behavior in order to avoid complaints from people whom Mark Thompson described as loading their AK-47s while writing in.

    As for the Eurovision thing, I couldn't possibly comment, except to say that Fraser Nelson was crying about this a couple years ago, and he's too easy on the BBC. He can see this as yet one more area where the Beeboids hold the general public in contempt, yet can't link it to the larger case of BBC elitism and corruption.

    1. There's a lot tied up in that quoted whinge.

      Mostly highlighting the complete disconnect BBC staff have with the real world, the BBC's responsibilities (however unique), and their total confidence in the fact they are unaccountable.

      I've been going through past complaints of mine, and the expediting and appeal that followed when the BBC ran out of ways to say they had no excuse save limitless belief they were right.

      They really didn't respond well to my point that folk wouldn't need to complain if they didn't keep fouling up, so shunting their failures as something the public needs to be penalised for is pretty rich. And daft.

      Of course, that is what just lost Labour the election, and it's clearly a mindset they and the BBC have not managed to shake even in the face of all evidence.

      Sadly, I doubt mentioning this latest #editorialbyomission integrity fest by the paper review team will do much to ease my headlong rush to the next expediting, so I will leave it to others so inspired. Though the result is foregone as the BBC churns out vast acreages of waffle to bog people down in ways they see as valid vs. the other kind.

      On Eurovision.... it once was an institution in our family. But we have paid it no heed in years.

      There was a heated debate on twitter going on about the bloke with the beard and dress, and I asked stout defenders if they could name the song s/he won with or hum it. No one had a clue.

      Yes there were always gimmicks (Sandy Shaw barefooted... Buck's Fizz and the Velcro dresses), but at least there were actual songs of foot-tapping value.

      Now it seems a contest between which political bloc hates who else more, 'balanced' by endless variations of PC box-ticking. Music optional.

      A dusky, PB&J, single-parent, hirsuitism-sufferer from Gaza doing a Mongolian throat-warbling cover via the medium of mime should walk it. In a wheelchair, just to be sure..

    2. Just read the Speccie piece:

      "We’re guaranteed a place in the final, because of the sheer amount of money that the BBC pays to secure its Eurovision membership"

      That unique funding model really doesn't seem to work out well on any basis, safe sticking UK public money in the pockets of a very small number of people, often not here. Note the top rated comment on profligacy matters.

      And these market rate talents are, without exception, as unfireable as they are vastly-rewarded.

      Final word from the comments:

      "The Masked Marvel EUROJESUS • an hour ago
      He seems to think it's all about what's best for the BBC. That's how BBC management see it as well."

    3. Yes, that BBC moan about 'vexatious' complaints from the SNP is full of ramifications. Their iron-clad certainty of 100% 'getting it about right', except on minor factual errors, is impenetrable. Unfortunately for the BBC, the cybernats will never give up. No BBC sonic screwdriver will stop them dead in their tracks. They will keep on coming.

      I'm doing a fine-tooth-comb study of the ECU/BBC Trust findings, as posted on the BBC's Clarifications page, relating to Israel. Appeals galore get rejected and the BBC - with rare exceptions - is always right. (It's those rare exceptions that intrigue me. They seem to tend one way - and in a contrasting direction to the one where the bulk of complaints come from.)

    4. 'Flippant' and 'vexatious' are to complaints as 'purposes of' and 'two and a half days' are to FOI responses.

      One way-ness is sadly another area where they have the semantic will to 'believe' they are balanced, even if going beyond the empirical to prove that what they call a split (to most al level hovering around 50:50) can be anything, so long as there is on occasion something seeded from the other side.

      I approach activating the Beta of my little project. It has aspects that I am not happy with, but in also researching ECU/Trust findings I have found plenty to highlight just how utterly shameless they are in denial that can only be deliberate, and possible only by them running the whole crooked system.

      Making any share worthwhile. Just need to try and make it quick and easy to encourage others.

      Though the value remains in the raw data, which will only be appreciated by the same mindsets, ironically, prepared to sift the transcripts of Manning or Snowden uploaded without prior vetting by Assange.

  2. Marr doing his usual job of helping a Labour mouthpiece explain their position properly with Harriett Harman. Wind her up and she spouts scripted talking point after scripted talking point. One about "sharing the benefits" of being in the EU was so vague he actually had to give her a couple of data points to help her explain what she meant. Neither of them seemed to have any idea about how to restore public esteem for Labour. "Get back to basics"? Another Harman vague cliché which Marr let slide. Pathetic on a number of levels.

    The continued union-bashing was amusing, though. The unions are largely responsible for the defeat because they basically got Miliband Minor elected as leader, no? His horrible politics did them in.

    Before that he seemed unable to challenge Javid much, and then seemed similarly unable to ask anything interesting of the Greek finance guy (who is always fun to watch on the BBC, to be honest) after the first cheeky, and largely rhetorical, question. Marr actually made the Communist whacko sound like a perfectly reasonable economics guru. He just wants a normal, sensible solution, does he? Marr either wasn't listening, didn't understand, or - more likely - agreed with him and didn't think to challenge the statement. He wasn't made to defend any of his positions at all, just to read out his propaganda points.

    1. I had a similar impression of the Hattie interview. He was rather helpful to her at times - though the bit about the unions got the lefties on Twitter screaming 'BBC bias!'.

      Andrew Marr always seems to go a good deal more gently when interviewing Harriet Harman. (Given that they famously went to each others' dinner parties in the past, that may not be entirely surprising.)

      I know what you mean about Yanis from Greece. He really is great fun to watch on the BBC.

      Andrew Marr's introduction described him as being leather-jacket-wearing. He wasn't wearing a leather jacket though for this interview.

      Steve Hilton, who's been all over the BBC this week, was even more fun to watch than Yanis, wasn't he? His trendy jeans, the t-shirt with 'GREAT' written on it, his lavish praise for Hattie...#

      The spoof of him on 'The Thick of It' was positively understated.

      I also enjoyed watching his partner on the press review, Dateline's Catherine Mayer, co-founder of the Women's Equality Party. (She was the one Tony Blair famously flirted with at a press conference and, even more famously, Sue said had infantilising hair.) No wonder she's a Dateline regular.

    2. I didn't know what to make of Hilton, other than to mostly ignore him for being so obviously right-on. If he was meant to be the right-wing balance, it wasn't working very well.

      As for Marr's question to Harman about the unions and Leftoid claims of bias, there's another "complaints from both sides" moment. Jim Murphy opened that can of worms, didn't he? It's a Labour issue, brought up by Labour, for Labour, and all the candidates have had to answer it wherever they go. No bias at all. It would almost be bias if Marr didn't ask about it.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.