The BBC, wasting our time and money?

These people are important and know what they are doing.

Vintage BBCVintage BBC
Someone is wasting their time, but who? Andrew Marr caused a bit of a stir, though not as much as he might have thought, with his comments on the blogosphere. Now we have John Simpson and his pennyworth. Marr, speaking at the Cheltenham Literary Festival gave his opinions of blogging thus -

Most citizen journalism strikes me as nothing to do with journalism at all. A lot of bloggers seem to be socially inadequate, pimpled, single, slightly seedy, bald, cauliflower-nosed young men sitting in their mother's basements and ranting. They are very angry people, OK – the country is full of very angry people. Many of us are angry people at times. Some of us are angry and drunk.

Isn't it wonderful when people say what they really think? However, as mentioned above, Marr's words won't have reached the audience in the way he might have hoped. I know many people turn him off when he appears on their screen. The very cruel leave him on but have the sound off, this man entertains, oh yes he does. But does he inform us? Probably not. The term Mainstream Media, usually written as MSM is seen a lot, what does it mean? If you take it to mean all of the non-blogging media then this is too crude. There is a difference between the newspapers, or in fact anything printed, and the broadcasters. And of the latter there is another difference between the independent and commercial element and the BBC, regardless of the output being radio or TV. Only the BBC could find a reason to employ Marr. They employ a number of people for whom the description popinjay is ideal. It's no surprise that some of the anti-blogging comments come from Marr of the BBC, but he's not alone.

Nor should it surprise us that the BBC hosts the best part of 100 blogs, such hypocrisy! Marr's comments may seem extreme but another one of the BBC's finest, Nick Robinson, is worthy of a second look. Another entertainer he likes the 'in your face style' beloved of so many of the broadcasters. But what this fading flower does not like are the comments left on his blog, when readers come back at him. So other than for the money why does he write it! Robinson has said of blogging -

New forms of media are reinforcing the habits of old when it comes to political coverage, new media conversation is, at its worst, self-important, narcissistic tosh. It's a waste of my time.

The old habits' comment is interesting, I wonder whom our intrepid journalist had in mind but was to too shy to name? The best reply to the Marr comments came from print journalist Roy Greenslade who also dealt with the wider aspects of the subject. But Marr the entertainer took on a new meaning when 15 tons of his latest book blocked a road in Berkshire following a lorry accident. Whether the cargo was on its way to Cheltenham or the remainder shop was not known.

So to John Simpson. Another BBC star performer with habits of old, he started work for the BBC in 1970, he is one of their 'lifers', not that this gives him a narrow view of the world, oh no! There must be something about Cheltenham for at the same bash that Marr used to show himself up, Simpson followed with his own version making it a double act. Our treat here was Simpson's confirmation that the - "BBC news service was never left wing". So that's sorted that out, I bet Mark Thompson wished he'd kept his big mouth shut! Simpson said -

I was really cross with Mark Thompson for saying the other day that when he joined the BBC 30 years ago it was very left wing in its political coverage. Thirty years ago I was the BBC political editor and there was absolutely nothing either left wing or right wing about our coverage. We were as straight as a die then and I think it is absolutely as straight as a die now. I don't know why Mark said that. Maybe he had some particular people in mind on some of the programmes but in terms of the BBC's core coverage that was not the case and I don't know why he chose to say that.

What we have here is a battle of two opinions with the BBC broadcaster being the correct one, the default state. The reasons why Mark Thompson (the Director General of the BBC, what would he know?) might have made his comments are airily dismissed in the manner of the pub-bore brimful of self regard, a situation clear to all except the broadcasters. Note how we also have a reference to 'some particular people' and 'the BBC's core coverage'. In other words - 'some of it's fluff but my work is beyond reproach'.

Furthermore and further on in his Cheltenham offerings Simpson reinforces the lofty isolation of the ideal broadcaster when he sounds off on the licence fee -

The reason why I am worried about it (the BBC) and nervous about it is because politicians of both the main parties have discovered a real weakness of the BBC and that is the licence fee.The act of cutting the licence fee is a political act which increases political control over the lifeblood of the BBC.

Another telling point made by Simpson is "Government concern for public opinion on the issue had faded", this assumes the public's opinion of the BBC remains constant and supportive. This assumption might work in the corridors of Broadcasting House and in front of a small crowd at a book festival, but beyond here and the war zones? Simpson claims that "70-75 per cent of the British public support it". It did not look like that during the Jonathan Ross/ Russell Brand fiasco, but perhaps this is another example of non-core work. Simpson goes on -

But once the government takes money away from the BBC it ceases to be independent, It becomes desperate to keep its lifeline. It's like being water-boarded by the CIA. As your head goes down for the fourth or fifth time you are desperate for the air.

Now you would have thought that a man presenting himself at a book festival would be able to understand the meaning of words. If the BBC cannot live without government money then it's dependent not independent. As for the rest of it, waterboarding and the CIA, ever thought of writing an anti-American thriller Mr Simpson? He rounded off his time at Cheltenham by saying he was -

too old to care about rubbing senior BBC figures up the wrong way and would have his say.

I bet that put a spring in everyone's step, mind you if you don't like it you could always complain to one of the many BBC blogs!

Then again all of the above is about politics, the BBC and their unbiased approach. For anyone keen to see how they get on reporting climate change, the EU and other subjects look no further than HERE. No doubt Simpson and friends would be shocked to see a whole website devoted to their employer called Biased BBC!