Saturday 5 September 2015

The suffering of BBC reporters

In The Spectator, Matthew Parris writes something that pretty much reflects where I am on the migrant crisis - though I strongly suspect I'm somewhat further towards the 'harder-hearted' end of the spectrum than Matthew:
Literally millions of people across Britain have, over the past few months, been torn and distressed by the question of what ‘we’ should do about the migrants crossing the Mediterranean. I believe this has quite seriously spoiled peace of mind for many. Going further, I’d say this does not arise from baulking at a duty we know we owe, but from deep and genuine doubt as to what our duty is. 
I’ll go even further. If I really knew my duty I would try diligently to do it; and there are millions like me. We’re ready. But we’re honestly, mightily, daily confused about what we ought to do.
Many of those millions will be getting most of their news from the BBC - a BBC many of whose reporters seem far from conflicted on the issue and, worse, whose reporting is clearly manipulative.

Is that reporting influencing public opinion as much as it appears to have influenced David Cameron's opinion? It certainly seems to be deepening my own sense of confusion.

I'm less confused about the BBC's style of reporting though, I think.

A lot of the BBC's reporting (and, yes, it's not just the BBC) has well-and-truly answered Lyse Doucet's call for BBC reporters to display compassion. Never, however, has the risk of that shading into emoting or veering into barely disguised political activism been more apparent than in the past few weeks. 

I was thinking about that after watching last night's Newsnight, which contained a good deal of this kind of reporting (especially from Matthew Price). It ended (after Emily's Maitlis's pain-faced closing words) without the usual Newsnight music, just a live camera shot across the poor migrants on the motorway in Hungary. 

There's a very interesting post by a chap called David Sedgwick which I've just stumbled across, and which I suspect many of you will strongly agree with. 

I know exactly what he means and I heard and saw some of his examples, and he's largely right about them:

Here's how it begins:
Every night you hear it. Switch on your television set, switch on the BBC and they're at it. It's unrelenting, ceaseless; non-stop. It's also deeply manipulative and highly unprofessional. 
Their reporters are all over Hungary, watching the Syrian migrant situation with hearts that are so, very very heavy, with words that are so very, very loaded, with consciences that are so very, very heavy. But that's not enough - they want you to feel their terrible pain also. 
I almost laughed out loud a week ago when bleeding heart BBC reporter Gabriel Gatehouse greeted migrants off a ship in Italy. There followed the usual series of leading questions: Are you in DESPAIR? Have you got WOMEN and CHILDREN? Are they DESPERATE? Are they DYING? Are you people POOR?  
One man politely listened until Gatehouse, all a quiver and his face contorted in sympathy, had finally finished. "I want job. I want to be journalist in UK," he evenly replied. Gatehouse looked temporarily lost. The man, slightly bemused, went on his way. Gatehouse turned to camera a picture of humanity and empathy. It's all part of the game. 
And here's how it ends:
I don't think I can stand it any longer. I can't bear to watch those harrowing images and hear those equally harrowing words it's all getting too much. It's a daily fare from Budapest,  a daily fare of pleading, imploring, choking,  begging, sighing, agonising, disbelieving and appealing that goes on interminably.  
I talk not of migrants, but of the bleeding hearts of BBC reporters.
There's much more in between. Please give it a read and see whether you agree or not.


  1. I'm not going to get into any solutions or blame or anything like that or what I think should be done. All I will say is that there is a difference between showing a little compassion and openly advocating for policy. It's not at all a fine line. But as usual with emotional Beeboids who are eternally convinced of their moral superiority, the line is blurred beyond all reason.

  2. The awful Owen Jones gave the game away on Marr this morning, and sickening Christine Amanpour and Marr himself agree with him. He said outright that making this an emotional appeal about the individual human stories is the way to change public opinion. Period, no question, that's what they all agreed. Marr's agreement was less obvious, but he did agree with Jones's point.

    Amanpour the hypocrite advocated military action. When it suits her, she's for it. She's against it if the politics aren't right.

    The point is, here is an open admission that the BBCs' "Oh, the Humanity!" narrative is just what we say it is.

    1. Owen Jones prefaced that by asserting that the Left goes with facts and statistics while the Right tells stories (which calls for a 'yeah, right!' for starters).

  3. I don't like the soppy reporting either, especially on the BBC. Give us facts, please.

    (But I think its more a clumsy attempt at being modern and engaging in the 21st century world of universally moronic media, with people's tiny attention spans and proven desire to click preferentially on the most absurdly sensationalist links on the internet.)

    However... this conversation reminds me of the people who complain heavily about charity muggers. They're annoying, but anyone can easily just say "No, sorry". But people don't want to have to say no to charity because makes them feel guilty.

    Its a peculiar thing that people get outraged because they feel an unclear and unwelcome sense of vague guilt. Isn't that just the normal reaction of facing up to how bad things really are out there in the world?


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