Tuesday, 29 September 2009

How objective is our television news?



I've just watched a piece by political editor Nick Robinson on the 6 o'clock BBC evening news about Gordon Brown's speech to the Labour Conference, and one of Robinson's concluding sentences stuck out:

'Do you want five more years of him as PM?'

Does that strike you as particularly impartial? Surely a simple: 'Now the public must decide whether Brown will stay at the helm' would suffice.

The Robinson example is in fact extremely common when you make an effort to listen carefully to the phrasing of sentences or intonation in voices in news programmes or even the otherwise brilliant Newsnight.

The latter is perhaps a stronger example, as when Jeremy Paxman, to quote The Thick Of It, 'pulls that horse face of mock incredulity' the audience surely can't help but be swayed one way or the other about what they are witnessing.

This ties in with my last post about the media's power to sway opinion so easily. Watch out for any stories regarding the Labour party at the moment for example. Not because I am a paranoid Labour supporter you understand, but because in the current climate anything remotely Labour party related is treated by the media as if it is diseased.

Another side to this that may be interesting to note is that Robinson and omnipresent political commentator Andrew Neil have pasts that may have a bearing on their outlook. Robinson was national chairman of the Young Conservatives for a year, following a period during his university days where he was Chairman of the Oxford University Conservative Association, facts he chooses to omit from his blog biography on the BBC website.

Neil was editor of the Sunday Times newspaper for 11 years, and has in his career worked closely with Sky, The Spectator and The Daily Mail. A balanced political slate there? I'll let you be the judge.

Monday, 28 September 2009

'You can't trust any of them, can you?'



The repeated appearance of Channel 4's trailer for the Dispatches programme focusing on MP's expenses now immediately has me reaching for the remote.

There is something painfully self congratulatory about the whole issue of expenses when the topic arises amongst the general population, a bubbling self righteous anger that I have come to find pretty repulsive.

As Stephen Fry said at the time the Daily Telegraph was gleefully spreading its findings over weeks worth of newsprint, there are very few of us out there who can truly say we have never tried to get the most out of our situation in regards to bonuses, benefits or bursaries.

The reality is that the general public love it because it creates a simple black and white narrative. We can label all politicians as crooks, purely in it for the expense accounts and living lavishly, whereas we are all good and pure hard-working souls.

We seem to forget that the life of a politician is not only presumably emotionally exhausting, but makes a mockery of the notion of a 9-5 job, instead spreading meetings, sittings, votes and constituent surgeries across mammoth days that would be largely unthinkable to the vast majority of us.

And what do they get for this tireless endeavour? Certainly rarely any praise. The best an MP can typically hope for is not to feature in a newspaper in any form, as the coverage will almost certainly be negative.

I appreciate that there are some politicians out there who have taken advantage of the system's faults, but we must retain a far more balanced viewpoint when it comes to addressing our representatives in parliament.

I fear that the expenses scandal is one way of showing the huge power that the media carry in forming opinion. It sickens me to hear interviews with people on the street in the build up to elections where tabloid clich├ęs and rhetoric are incoherently regurgitated as an excuse for a real opinion and a valid reason to vote.

Perhaps there should be some form of short test before one enters the polling booth. Forget the sanctity of the secret vote, tell us 5 valid reasons for voting the way you are. If you can't give us the reasons you truly wish to vote this way, I'm afraid we will have to turn you away.

At least I wouldn't hear any more of the 'well they're all liars anyway' lines again.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

And all the pieces matter

Still, following on from my opening post, I guess I should make an effort to connect with you, whoever you are, AND WHATEVER you are doing with your lives that you have sunk to the low point of reading this.

I'm mostly going to be blogging about the media and politics, mixed in with a bit of sport now and again, but thought I should also link and direct you to the sites/TV programmes/interests that make my life enjoyable for no reason other than to fill this space with the same inane drivel that the rest of you have.

Still! To start with, if you are in any way a fan of The Wire you may have recognised the embarrassing hijacking of a fifth season quote for the title of the blog. This is because The Wire is the best television programme that has ever been made. I'm not even going to argue about it, unless you can show me something better. Please attempt to, but it may well be a futile exercise.

From my own personal viewing, nothing else has come close to The Wire for its content, its style and its depth. I can't explain it to you if you haven't seen it, just start watching it and give it time to grown on you. What I appreciated most was the fact that the show never forgets that you are an adult human being. that you do not need to be spoon-fed plot developments and episode recaps. Instead it focuses on realism and the simple interactions between human beings, which ultimately can be far more dramatic than any canned action sequence from a film.

I could bang on about it for years, but this is the sort of fanaticism that would also miss the serious points that the show tries to get across, and if the show can in anyway affect you as profoundly as I believe it did me, it will be worth having a shot at watching.

Will go on to discuss other stuff but BORED NOW so signing off.

The difficulties of blogging

Who cares what you have to say?

Is my initial reaction to the trend of blogging. Fair enough for people that have already made something of themselves, or for people who may genuinely have something important to get across, but for anyone else it has always felt, to me, an unnecessary ego trip fuelled solely by a desire to become famous or well regarded within a section of society.

Neither of which is applicable to myself. Yet.

I've got to give it a go though, a module for my journalism studies dictates it. So let's see what happens shall we? Yeah? YEAH?