Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The News, read by Daphne Oxenford

Some of my earliest childhood memories are of rushing to sit on the sofa with my mum when Daphne Oxenford's rich tones came across the airwaves asking: "Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin." We had marched up and down the living room to 'The grand old Duke of York' and wiggled our fingers and wriggled our toes, now it was time to be enchanted by one of the most beautiful and memorable voices on radio. That was 1950 and the programme 'Listen with Mother.'

These days I watch the Ten O'clock News on BBC television with the same feeling of being entertained. Actually, I do 'Listen with Mother' a disservice by making the comparison: that was a programme which fulfilled its purpose admirably whereas current BBC news programmes have changed from news broadcasting to light entertainment without any acknowledgment.

We have become used to hearing speculation instead of fact. That would be acceptable if the presenters would begin each article with either 'this is what happened' or 'we don't have any facts for you so here is a fictional account written earlier', at least it would bring back some credibility to BBC news reporting. I want information with intelligent commentary, not speculation and biased opinion.

The BBC refutes the accusation that it is 'dumbing down' but here are a some examples from last night's news which illustrate how close they have come to 'tabloid' reporting.

  • First, there was a report of Gordon Brown having been compared to Stalin by a former top civil servant. Alongside the news reader was a screen showing Stalin in his Red Army uniform. Computer technology allowed this image to transform Stalin's face into that of Gordon Brown. That's the sort of thing I would expect to see in The Sun or The News of the World.

  • Another report concerned the conviction of a foster mother on charges of child abuse. The report began with the information that the woman was a Jehovah's Witness; it did not go on to say that she beat the children because she was a Jehovah's Witness, or that all Jehovah's Witnesses are child abusers, so why mention it especially in the opening words of the report?

  • The report on passport fraud was obviously regarded as beyond the intelligence of most viewers; it needed illustrations. So, the reporter stood on the steps of the passport office holding a passport while he told us how many passport applications are received annually; then he moved to the entrance to a railway station while he told us that passports allow us to travel.

BBC Breakfast is even worse. The presenters have become 'celebrities', appearing on reality shows and promoting themselves and each other instead of dealing with issues of public interest. They have such a low opinion of their viewers that they have to send the weather girls (very attractive, wearing latest fashions, never mind their first class meteorology degrees) out into the garden to prove it is sunny or snowing.

I think I got out of bed on the wrong side this morning! I'd better illustrate that comment for those who are used to BBC reports.

1 comment:

  1. Nice illustration, but you didn't indicate which was the wrong side.


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