Friday, September 25, 2009

The truth is what you can get away with broadcasting

A good point from Janine at Stroppyblog (via Chris):

Decent news reporting is supposed to report facts, and include opinions clearly flagged as such. And we're probably entitled to expect this more from a public service broadcaster than from, say, a tabloid newspaper.

[For instance], the repeated mantra that "Everyone now accepts that there must be cuts in public spending." Excuse me, but I don't. If you mean "Every leader of a mainstream political party, plus a great chunk of rent-a-quote bourgeois hacks and economists now agree that there must be cuts in public spending", then say so.

This supposed unanimity is, oddly enough, the product of news values that usually favour gratuitous argument.

The broadcast media – including of course the Beeb – are very keen on what they call ‘balance’, by which of course they mean conflict. There are two reasons for this: first, a row is good viewing; second, the media are often afraid of the truth – that is to say, afraid of taking a firm position of their own on a factual matter that’s politically disputed.

Directly reporting facts as facts requires you not only to do the hard work of establishing what those facts are but also to have the confidence to present them as such and risk accusations of bias from any party to a dispute who happens to be in the wrong. (To be fair, the various TV newscasters can and often do get this right. But they also often don’t.)

It’s much easier to report what somebody says the facts are. And in that case, the producers like to get someone else on the programme to say that actually the facts are something else. Cue heated debate. Never mind whether they both have a point, whether they’re both talking self-serving crap or whether one is completely right and the other completely wrong – it’s good to present ‘both sides of the argument’.

But if there’s general consensus among most of the punditocracy, then the media know that they won’t get stick from anyone who matters for asserting ‘facts’. Hence the reportedly universal agreement on cuts.

1 comment:

Best Bank Rates said...

I agree with your point that media avoids to say the truth or facts many times. By having, argumentations on any issue facts do come out but at the same time, people are there in the discussion to defend it. These arguments always end without any outcome.