James Crossley's blog Contact: jgcrossley10 - AT - yahoo - DOT - co - DOT - uk

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

John Humphrys and 'Unbiased' Reporting

John Humphrys, the fierce presenter of Radio 4's Today programme, has recently come under a bit of fire for apparently criticising various Labour figures. The details can be found here and the speech here. Naturally he has come in for a bit of stick from various people, some of whom have been after his blood for some time. One attack is from a journalist for various rags in the UK, Stephen Pollard, who also as it happens has a blog. Like so many British journalists he is the world's leading expert on everything. Anyway he made the following comments:

In his now infamous speech, Humphrys argued that: “If we were not prepared to take on a very, very powerful government indeed there would be no point in the BBC existing — that is ultimately what the BBC is for.”
No, Mr Humphrys, it is not
[classic British moralising rhetoric]. The purpose of public service broadcasting is precisely the opposite: to provide an analytical, unbiased and serious alternative to the supposed free-for-all of commercial broadcasting.
That it is now ITV and Sky to whom one turns for unbiased coverage is thanks to John Humphrys and his BBC ilk.

I would love to know how Pollard would define the unbiased coverage provided by ITV and Sky (Murdoch owned!), or indeed the BBC of yesteryear. And unbiased coverage in general.

Without making a judgement one way or another on Humphrys, I can't help but think (and I can't prove this) there are still certain people inside New Labour who want a bit of revenge for his views on the damning of the BBC in the light of that whole shambolic Andrew Gilligan affair and the govt's disorting document on Iraq's so-called WMD capabilities.


Blogger Michael F. Bird said...

James, do you have a webpage at Sheffield. I couldn't find it?

September 07, 2005

Blogger J. B. Hood said...


Okay...when will the best and most valuable insight of postmodernism catch on?

Fox News here in the states, Rupert-owned and a cousin of Sky in the UK, has a show called the "No Spin Zone", as well as the ridiculous slogan, "We report, you decide"--the latter claiming some sort of neutral turf, a la the Enlightenment, from which readers will then be able to make their (unbiaseD??!) decisions. Probably the most laughable titles in the media.

(In their defense, they see themselves as tipping the scales; polls show 90 percent of media personnel are liberal and do not vote Republican; and the other stations make implicit claims to neutrality which mirror those of Fox.)

How much longer before postmodernism really hits this field--to say nothing of the social and natural sciences?

September 08, 2005

Blogger James Crossley said...

Yeah, it is so weird that there are such grand claims to objectivity and neutrality. I mean they rarely select what I WANT to see and then make up my mind and if they did what angle do you take? News is a great example to highlight these kinds of issues of objectivity and neutrality.

September 08, 2005

Blogger J. B. Hood said...

Yep...news media came up in lesson one in Hermeneutics course in seminary.

September 09, 2005

Blogger BBC hater said...

I can understand why relatively right wing organisations like Fox feel the need to tip the balance. The BBC is institutionally incapable of presenting an unbiased picture and it's important to see alternative views aired. Sadly no media outlet seems to represent the more balanced views help by many people. What theye should actually do of course is to present facts and the arguments from both sides.

April 11, 2008


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