Baghdad Broadcasting Company, a model for us all

Baghdad Broadcasting Company, a model for us all
: Greg Dyke, chief chutzpah officer of the BBC, lashes out at U.S. TV news war coverage as he accepts a dubious award in New York:

News organisations should be in the business of balancing their coverage, not banging the drum for one side or the other. This is something which seemed to get lost in American reporting of the war,” said Mr Dyke.

He said only four out of 840 experts interviewed on US news outlets during the conflict opposed the war and the situation would not have been tolerated at the BBC.

“Telling people what they want to hear is not doing them any favours. It may not be comfortable to challenge governments or even popular opinion but it’s what we are here to do,” he said.

Yo, Doc, cure thyself!

What an incredibly blind/deaf/dumb comment to come from Baghdad Broadcasting, of all places.

Balance? The BBC exhibits as much balance as Christopher Reeve on a tightrope.

Telling people what they want to hear? That’s exactly what the BBC did and quite cynically, I might add.

Experts? What experts? Name two. That is the kind of ridiculous faux stat I’d expect to hear from, oh, American talk radio, not the head of the vaunted BBC.

And Greg, I have two words to remind you of: Andrew Gilligan.

But what’s even more pathetic is his lack of awareness about the business reality of TV news — yes, business reality:

In a robust defence of public service broadcasting Mr Dyke said TV was not “just another commodity” like Starbucks or Coca-Cola and disagreed with those who said it should be left to the market.

“Television is only different from coffee or Coke if we recognise that fact. If we treat TV like these things, it will become like them. We end up with nothing more than a briefly enjoyable experience devoid of any lasting value,” he said.

Face it, mate: News — especially TV news — is already a commodity. Cable — and, in your case, satellite — and the Internet already accomplished that.

The wave of the future is to admit your perspective — and, lord knows you have one (in fact, denying that you do is the worst single blow to your credibility — and to let the audience decide how to look at a story.

If you came out and said you were against the war because somebody had to be, somebody had to give that perspective — well, I might disagree but I would respect the honesty of that and the vision. But no.

You’re a dinosaur, Dyke. But worse than that, you’re a dishonest one.

  • Dishman

    So, if Jack the Ripper returned to London, would the BBC provide ‘experts’ who thought it was a good thing? Would they provide ‘experts’ opposed to the police investigation?

  • Amen! Sure, I don’t like the bias, but don’t BS me with this idea that you don’t have one.
    You want to criticize the U.S. media for Iraq? Go ahead. But who had a more accurate account of what happened during the invasion?

  • Forbes

    Mr. BBC needs to attend Econ 101, for Starbucks and Coke are not commodities. They are mass market consumer products–nothing less than television news, but Starbucks and Coke charge premium prices for their products, in case he hasn’t noticed. Gasoline is cheaper than Coke, yet gasoline costs far more to produce. Starbucks is the home of the $3 cup of coffee. Someone persuming to lecture ought to know that which he speaks. He does not–and that pretty much explains the BBC’s problem.

  • No One

    Three words: “No Spin Zone.” The BBC is more honest than most.

  • MadMan

    Yeah, come to think of it, I don’t remember seeing anyone on those news programs who was against the war… except maybe that Garafalo chick who was on one or two or thirty-five shows, some guy Ritman? Ritter? something like that, and some guy Buchanahan wasn’t he on his own show every day opposing this war, as well as that guy Donahue, and Alan Combs, a couple of Arab guys Hooper and Zogby, some small state governer Dean somebody…

  • infamouse

    The BBC treated the Iraqi Information Minister as a serious individual as America was laughing at him. Accuracy and balance, my ass.
    This man is an idiot. If the news wasn’t a “commodity” you wouldn’t have to pay for a newspaper.

  • infamouse

    If the BBC was as great as it claims, it wouldn’t have to hire someone to monitor its anti-Israeli bias.

  • PAZ

    I’m not sure how your opinion for or against the war affects “reporting” of the war. If your against the war and you just saw the Third ID smash its way into Bagdad, do you report it differently then someone who is for the war? The facts are what they are, regardless of your damn opinion.
    Perhaps he meant that in the talking head segments of the news–opinion writing but not reporting–there were no spokespeople against the war presented in the media. If this is his point he is just an ignoramus, not ill intentioned. We all know that the major news outlets–other than FOX– were solidly against the war and let us know it.
    But what he probably was talking about is a cocept that is entirely foreign to what American’s understand the role of reporting journalists. Here we expect the reporters to give just the facts. I believe that in Europe even reporters trade in the realm of opinion. In the United States we expect the reporter to say “The Third ID punched through Fallujastan today.” The BBC version of this is: The Third ID punched thrrough Fallujastan today, which is the three week anniversary of the date on which the United States turned its back on the United Nations and the Hundreds of Thousands who marched throughout Europe to protest military action against Iraq.”

  • You’re quite wrong — the BBC doesn’t tell people what they want to hear; they tell people what the BBC wants them to hear.

  • Hmmm… sounds like somebody been trying to justify his corporation’s state-enforced,

  • The BBC is a commodity. What is he on about?

  • The British Broadcasting Corporation is paid for by a compulsory poll tax on television receivers paid the British people.It does try to be even handed between the statements of psychopatic kleptomaniac dictators and the leaders of the worlds democracies.To further this dedicated impartiality the organisation should be made self funding.

  • bill_g

    Not to give the BBC the benefit of the doubt (I’m not; they don’t deserve it) one might imagine that they’ve decided that the way to ensure balance in their coverage is to put a balanced allotment of screaming loonies on the air.
    Balance, of course, isn’t achieved that way. Balanced news coverage is achieved by putting balanced people on the air. American media are far from faultless, but their coverage of news is invariably more balanced than the pandering BBC airs in the guise of journalism.
    And, yes, I fully expect BBC would give airtime to an expert explaining the pro-Ripper position.

  • Old Grouch

    “…only four out of 840 experts interviewed on US news outlets during the conflict opposed the war…”

    Sounds precise, but smells made up. Anybody have a cite?
    (Later– Oh, I see, he’s talking about during the conflict. Which conveniently ignores any opponents heard from before the shooting started. Clever!)

  • SharpShooter

    Andrew Gilligan? You mean BBC’s news radio reporter who stated, on World Service radio broadcast around the world, that there were NO US Troops in Baghdad? This at the SAME MOMENT that CNN, Fox and al-Jazeera TV were broadcasting images of elated Iraqis tearing down the hated statue of Saddam?
    Oh, THAT Andrew Gilligan? The guy who set up a decent, trusting and trustworthy Baha’i weapons inspector? Bringing such opprobrium and bruhaha down on the mild-mannered scientist that he committed suicide shortly after that?
    You mean THAT Andrew Gilligan?

  • >>exhibits as much balance as Christopher Reeve on a tightrope.>>
    Cold, man.

  • Harry

    Using Dykes logic the free western press should have balanced all the drum banging for the Allies cause with drum banging for the Axis cause during the Second World War. Just for the sake of professional journalistic ethics and fairness.

  • SharpShooter – I think you’re confusing Andrew Gilligan and Tony Blair.
    Harry – the Axis countries actually posed a threat to western civilisation. Different, no?
    More generally, the idea that reporting is ever unaffected by the reporter and news organisation’s personal views is absolutely ludicrous, even if many people in the US do believe it to be true. Which stories you cover, where you go, who you interview, how much you trust different sources – all these will be affected by your personal views. That’s true for the BBC, for Al-Jazeera, for Fox, for CNN, for the Washington Post, and for every other news outlet.

  • john b,
    I don’t know if “many people in the US do believe it to be true.” But it sounds like Dyke does.

  • Angua – Dyke (correctly) believes the opposite: he believes that US TV networks are not impartial, because no reporter can be impartial.

  • PJF

    Er, john b, Dyke has said no such thing, so attributing that view to him is wrong.
    Dyke clearly believes US TV news outlets were not impartial in their war coverage because they chose (or at least “seemed” to) to “bang the drum” of one side (theirs). He further states that he considers it the “business” of news organisations to balance their coverage (presumably he feels the BBC did a better job in this respect).
    So, far from Dyke realising that it isn’t possible for news reporters and news organisations to be impartial – he flat out claims the opposite. This isn’t surprising really, since notions of balance and impartiality are central to the supposed role of the BBC as part of its Royal charter. It would be surprising to see a Director General of the BBC claiming that it is impossible for his organisation to do its job.
    Also at odds with reality is your implication that “many people” in the US believe that their news programmes are impartial. Polls show that more people in the US than in the UK are aware of partiality and bias in the news. This is because US viewers are actually more “sophisticated” in this respect. They haven’t been dosed with over half a century of BBC propaganda telling them that not only is impartiality possible, it’s a duty – and the BBC is the world leader at it.
    But it is interesting that you consider impartiality to be impossible. Without that justification, it is hard to see on what grounds you support the continued existence of the BBC (as you stated over on Biased-BBC).