Saturday, 24 January 2009

Watching the News Eat Itself.

I've almost finished marking all the Ways of Seeing essays ready to pass on to the external examiner. The most popular question has been about whether the media now has enough influence over our lives to dictate reality to us. The problem with the question is that it assumes reality to be fixed - whereas our very understanding of the term evolves along with everything else. I suppose the virtual or escapist worlds of the Internet and TV might distract us from immersed forms of sensual engagement with the world - but in general I'm not sure we're clamped into a total brainwash even when 'reality' equates to a highly edited surveillance show or the news is just about the news.

This morning the BBC made a (crazy) decision in deciding not to broadcast an emergency appeal for aid to support the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, on the grounds that it would weaken their reputation for impartiality... but bizarrely the corporation has then spent the rest of the day interviewing its own journalists and managers, debating whether the decision is actually moral and, in itself, impartial. This self-doubt has ended up giving the very broadcast it decided not to broadcast a near monopoly of coverage..

I've been waiting for BBC news to broadcast the broadcast that they'd decided not to broadcast along with a voice over saying...

"We're now looking at clips from the banned BBC broadcast, which, having decided not to broadcast, we now broadcast, to demonstrate our impartiality"

It's pure Catch 22. To ban the appeal the Beeb have had to explain what the appeal is - and in the spirit of fair play (the very British interpretation of impartial) have interviewed several commentators who have given out the phone number needed to donate.
I suppose it's a result in the simple immediate terms of encouraging the public to give money and help relieve the crisis ... but it's so bigoted of director general Mark Thompson to suggest information needs to be censored to avoid political bias and so naive of the corporation not to realise their influence and own capacity for confusion.

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