Thursday, June 07, 2007

Here Is The News.....

I recently replied to an interesting post over at Rachel Joyce's blog about the business of news.

News is a business and it's about winning the ratings war. That being the case newsvendors have to present stories in a way that they think are likely to attract more viewers. Therefore unsurprisingly extremes are the order of the day. the fact is Good news is bad news.

Rachel uses Andrew Marr as an example of a biased reporter, he is well known as a left leaning luvvie. In fact Marr and people like him are not about 'news' they are about comment. In fact much of what is presented as news is in fact comment and by definition it will always, or almost anyway, be biased one way or another.

There's a third element to the business of reporting and that's the expert. He is usually someone recently retired from a particular profession who is brought in to give 'insight'. Now there's no guarantee that he necessarily has knowledge of a particular scenario but that's not going to stop him spouting forth. The next phase is the follow-up expert, who may well have a different opinion from the first one and so the debate then shifts to which expert is more correct. Experts on different channels offer different expert opinions and before long the news is not reporting the news it's reporting on the opinion of the expert talking about the news. Confused? Well, that's exactly what the news is all about.

And of course tomorrow it starts all over again.

I have a book coming out in July called ‘Here is The News’, it’s all about the BBC and news reporting in the Second World War. Two things that might surprise you. The first broadcast news of the day was not until 6 p.m. as before that the news was reserved for the newspapers. There was an agreement between the newspaper proprietors and the BBC, which allowed this. Before the Second World War on at least one occasion when the BBC newsreader came on the wireless he said (of course it was always a he back then, who an earth would believe a woman?). “Here is the news; there is no news.” With that the bulletin ended.

When I was adding the link to Amazon I've just seen that they've 'paired' my book with Andrew Marr's book on Britain. Must be because someone who ordered 'Here is the News' bought Mr. Marr's book too!


ian russell said...

I could never understand that Amazon pairing, there never appears to be any discount offered. Though I like the inclusion of a list of what other purchasers bought below.

Yes, you would hope for the news to be clear and honest but it isn't - I don't know if we've become more savvy to the tricks or they've just become too ridiculous.

Heather Yaxley said...

Good plug - I look forward to reading it as there is too little written on the topic in my view.

Anyway, the worst BBC practice today is plugging their own programmes. Jeremy Vine on Radio 2 was trialing next Monday's Panorama on today's show.

r morris said...

Great post, Richard. In the States we have the same problem. A lot of 'news' is really either right or left wing 'propaganda', depending on the network. The absolute worst are Fox News and Air America. The regular, non-cable networks tend to lean to the left, but not fanatically so. I've found msnbc to be the most balanced. Their show hosts range from liberals like Keith Oberman to conservatives like Joe Scarborough, my personal favorite. Then we have a new category of 'news' such as the Colbert Report where it is tongue-in-cheek but presented as hard news. If a person is not carefully skeptical, he/she could believe all kinds of hogwash as being actual news.

Congrats on the new book!

Like you, I'm a writer, and my book 'Untold Valor' has been paired on American Amazon with Donald Miller's 'Masters of the Air' for months. Amazon has some type of program built into their viewing records that ties products together based on parallel sales and the past reading interests of the surfer. It's quite ingenious. As for my book, I believe all the tie-ins have helped push my book's sales, so I'm not complaining at all.

With regards to Ian's comment that the tie-ins never seem to come with any kind of discount to encourage buying the two together, I have also wondered about this. What's the point? Maybe you save a couple bucks/pounds on shipping if you get them together.

David Ross said...

Goons (1959) abridged of course....

This is the BBC Home Service.

Hold it up to the light – not a brain in sight.............

Timothy [recorded]:
This is the terror-stricken service of the BBC. Today at approximately this afternoon, a discovery was made on the site of the Notting Hill Gate site of the government’s new dig-up-the-roads-plan-for-congesting-traffic scheme. Workmen in the absence of a strike settled for work as an alternative. It was during this brief lull in high-powered inertia that Morris Onions, a scaffolder’s knee-wrencher, stumbled across something he’d found. Ding-dong-billy-bong! I would like it known that though I read this stuff, I don’t write it. Ftang!..........

What’s this, now?

Ohh! That’s a human skull.

Is it?

Aye. Must be a woman – the mouth’s still open. Ha ha!

Here, we’d better call an Irish doctor.

Irishman 2:
Yes, let’s get one.

Too late for that, it’s a goner, man. She’s a goner.

Crushed by Ingsoc said...

Possibly better than now when they fill up half an hour with drivel about celebrities when there is no news.

Anne Weale said...

Watching Andrew Marr's TV programmes History of Modern Britain, I've been struck by the fact that he's equally scathing about past Prime Ministers of both political parties.

Rachel Joyce said...

Anne you are clearly watching a different version of Andrew Marr's Modern History to me!