I’m really getting fed up with the way the news is being presented these days, more and more it’s short, sharp headlines, with reporters pushing people for something controversial or interesting whatever the story and whatever the real story behind it.
There’s also the growing trend of leaping on a story that’s “hot gossip” rather than doing some investigative journalism – why explain the failure of UN forces in the Congo and what the truth behind the problems there is when we can focus on the inane and blown out of all proportion story of Russell Brand, Jonathan Ross and Andrew Sachs?
That story was one over the last few days that I’ve seen on BBC News that has shown the almost rabid desperation of the reporters to get some form of story, to get the interviewees angry and baying for blood on camera.
Andrew Sachs being pressed about how upset he was about the phone calls and if he’d received apologies from the main people involved. The reporter was going through the names involved and asking if he’d received apologies from each, really pressing him. Sachs kept shaking his head and in a slow and calm voice said that he wasn’t expecting apologies, he’s not collecting them. In fact he didn’t even sound that upset.
The “reporter” then tried to present some inflammatory way that events had occurred when the producer of the programme called him to obtain permission on the show, Sachs shook his head and was utterly confused saying that wasn’t the way it happened, but the reporter pressed on. It took another reporter to step in and replay the events in a much less sensationalised way for Sachs to agree.
The other week a representative of Help the Aged was being interviewed during the height of the media panic around the financial “crisis”. Two desk based presenters were interviewing the representative and talking about how older employees are being targeted by employers as the first to be made redundant in times of financial struggle.
However after their heavily loaded and over explanatory question was turned to the representative he shot it down in flames. They put it to him that older employees were being put at risk of redundancy in this current financial crisis and that employers were using it as an excuse to get rid of them. This piece had been built up all morning, and when it came time for him to answer the question he said that they’d seen no evidence of this happening, and anyway nowadays it was against the law and the age discrimination act was protecting them.
The presenters pressed him, trying to get him to say something scary and controversial about companies and older employees, but to no avail. That didn’t stop the channel pumping the idea throughout the day and returning to short clips from the interview.
There’s also a couple of questions to be asked about how much involvement the media are having in perpetuating and building any event that makes it to the news. For instance the financial crisis itself, we keep hearing all the doom and gloom, house prices down, spending down, employees being made redundant, companies failing, and huge graphics of crashing bar charts and words of crisis and desperation across it.
Yet today I heard the BBC News interviewing an employer who was saying it’s not that bad and they aren’t having to get rid of people just yet, or a small company with thirty-two employees talking about making four redundant in recent times and with no real explanation of if this was associated with hard times, indeed they said that they aren’t feeling any problems at the moment and are in a very good place.
Then a housing market specialist who was being interviewed about the continuing drop in house market prices saying that if you’ve already bought it’s not a problem because you have your property and it’s only if you’re moving you should be concerned. Even then if your property is down in value so is the one you’re buying, so no story there, in fact no story in any of those attempts at scaremongering.
Then there’s just the fact that they’re coming on air every few minutes saying that the world markets are destroyed, financial problems unlike any other since the thirties, we’ll never recover, the UK Banks are going to fail…and that last one strikes the loudest chord with me.
For it was the media that helped destroy Northern Rock. Yes, you may think that’s a bold statement, but let me explain. Northern Rock went to borrow funds from the Bank of England, as all Banks do at various times, and they were refused the funds. They were looking to raise them elsewhere and the media decided to pick up on this story and make it huge. As it broke people panicked, removed the money from the Bank that they needed to get the loans to cover their customers, just as all Banks do, and there was the crisis. The crisis wasn’t that the Bank wanted to borrow the money in the first place.
Leap forward to the present and HBoS, then the other UK Banks. One can’t help but wonder if part of their recent problems have been increased and perpetuated by the media themselves.
Look at the recent upset with Russell Brand, Jonathan Ross and Andrew Sachs. Over thirty-five thousand complaints received – how many of them are the people who actually heard the show, well actually there were only two complaints made on the day and one at the time of the show.
The rest of the complaints have come since, after The Daily Mail whipped up a frenzy and the rest of the media have continued to follow, and how upset really are the Sach’s? When I saw the Andrew Sachs “interview” at his front doorstep he didn’t look that upset at all and wasn’t looking for apologies.
Now we’ve seen the Radio 2 controller resign, and she surely had no hand in obtaining the permission from Sachs for the show, the editing or releasing of the show on air. Thanks to the media for all this, and the tens of thousands of people who didn’t hear the show, probably don’t even know all the facts, and are leaping on the bandwagon.
The media are not only trying to push to try and get the latest scoop and exclusive comment on air, but they are also trying to make and manipulate the news.
Reporters struggling to interview and get what they want out of their interviewees, loading questions and pushing people. Stretching out statements of nothing, statements and stories of “things to come”, and repeat, repeat, repeat.
When the BBC Director General making a statement saying that he’ll soon make a statement about the Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross debacle gets the same airtime and even more investigation than the growing catastrophe in the Congo, you have to wonder what the media, or to be fair what the BBC News is doing.