Tuesday, July 03, 2007

News Should Not Be A Business

Watching the BBC 6 p.m. news last night it is irritating and sad that their coverage of the attempted bombing took on such alarmist tones. Their reporter 'somewhere near Glasgow Airport' said, "People across Scotland are living in fear". No we're not! Of course there's concerns, but lets not get this out of proportion. The BBC’s political correspondent at Westminster said and I paraphrase. ‘The bombers are altering their tactics and instead of the security people looking for home grown radicalized terrorists they are now importing foreign nationals which is all helping to keep the terrorists one step ahead.’

By its very nature this is what terrorism is, but at the same time we seem to be doing a pretty good job in dealing with it - albeit with some luck thrown in. Not perfect, but then you wouldn't expect that. Equally ‘the terrorists’ are not some homogenous group of people and however well organized al-Qaeda is there is a limit to how effective that organization can be.

In the papers today there's the usual rash of stories asking what did the Home Office and the security people really know? What weren’t they telling us? Our news obsessed world, the competing nature of news providers and this desire to always be able to say things like 'worst ever', 'most', 'dire', 'dreadful', 'disturbing', or whatever other words designed to make us feel even worse is potential crippling. There needs to be a sense of perspective from news providers and a recognition that they are providing us with what is at its heart a service and not a business. Competition in the news rating wars is irrelevant to us as recipients of news.

Franklin D Roosevelt said in 1933 “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. We should heed those sentiments and so should the news media who have a duty to not stir up the fear of fear.


Anonymous said...

I'm ashamed to say, after discovering that Abdul Al-EddieTheEagle was the only casualty, that I was mostly tickled by all the Glaswegians getting interviewed by bemused Beebers.


r morris said...

The Brits are the very model of stern resolve, symbolized by their great leader Sir Winston Churchill in WWII and their refusal to be cowed by the Blitz. I would totally disregard ANY report saying that the Brits or the Scots are living in fear. It is not in their nature. Sometimes, newsmen trying to be dramatic just make things worse.

Anonymous said...

What irritates me is that as soon as an incident -- with minimal consequences -- in Scotland occurs, the press spend days on the subject.

Cut to Yorkshire and Hull where an estimated £1.5bn of flood damage has occurred -- hardly any concern for the poor folk whose homes have been thoroughly wrecked.