tobyaw: (Frogmarch 2002 - Whitby)
posted by [personal profile] tobyaw at 11:20pm on 10/11/2012 under , ,
I am growing increasingly intolerant of light entertainment. My leisure time is important to me, and I don’t want to waste it on inane television.

When there were limited choices on television — a handful of channels and no video-on-demand — one could accept that the viewing public wanted a shared experience in their television, and so light entertainment developed an influence that its content doesn’t justify. But now we are in a multi-channel world, with broadcast television becoming increasingly irrelevant, and with iPlayer and Netflix and iTunes letting us take control of our own choice of entertainment. We no longer have to wait for a television channel to give us a drama that we like, or a film by our favourite director. We can now have it all, and have it now.

This means that we can now make judgements of taste and quality on the programmes that we watch — we no longer have to watch light entertainment just because it is a cost-effective way of filling broadcast hours between scripted dramas. With all of the programming that I have immediately available to me, there is no reason to watch something that I consider a waste of my time. I enjoy television drama, the news, music, and Formula 1, but I would be happy never again to watch a chat show. I want to avoid anything involving celebrities, audience interaction, or “behind the scenes” access.

Sadly one of the compromises of married life is that the TV in our house will be showing Strictly Come Dancing every Saturday and Sunday night from September through to Christmas. I try to hide behind my iPad, ignore the inane onscreen chatter, and be glad that it is nothing like as bad as ITV’s Dancing on Ice. Ugh, now that is bad.
location: St Andrews, Scotland
tobyaw: (Frogmarch 2002 - Whitby)
Newsnight has been a mainstay of my adult television viewing. As a student in the early 90s, I started to find my own taste in news, rather than following the choices of my parents. I increasingly found the BBC1 evening news too light, wanting something that could offer more depth of investigation and discussion. I spent some years as a fan of the Channel 4 News, but eventually settled on Newsnight as my choice. The presenters worked well for me, particularly Jeremy Paxman, Peter Snow, and Kirsty Wark. Recent additions to the line-up are good too — Emily Maitlis is appealing, and it is good to see Eddie Mair on the television after years of listening to him on Radio 4.

But now Newsnight is in a pickle of its own making.

Last year they failed to complete and broadcast a report that was being prepared about Jimmy Savile. Maybe the editor genuinely got cold feet, or maybe he was leaned on from above to drop the story… either way, it smells bad when the BBC appears to be covering up reporting of the crimes of its former stars. Even looking generously at the situation, it appears that both the investigation and the reporters involved were mismanaged. This was recoverable — the editor might be sacked and there could be a change in BBC guidance, but there should be no lasting damage to Newsnight.

Last week, however, disaster struck in the form of what turns out to be a shoddy piece of journalism, alleging that a former senior Tory was a paedophile. In a much-trailed report, Newsnight held back from naming him, but left him as the subject of a flurry of online speculation and innuendo, fuelled by the actions of bloggers and journalists who should have known better.

It now turns out that Newsnight’s source, while a genuine victim, has been widely known to be an unreliable witness since inquiries in the late 1990s. Newsnight failed to confirm the identification that the victim made, failed to notice that details of the abuser didn’t match the alleged perpetrator, and failed to put the allegations to the person that they were alluding to.

Why did they do this? Maybe it was an overcompensation for having been accused of ignoring the Savile allegations; they desperately wanted to believe a victim and to unmask a paedophile. Or maybe they thought that bringing a historic child-abuse story back into the public eye would deflect attention away from their recent troubles.

Their shelved report into Savile was, at worst, a sin of omission, but this is much more serious. Last week’s report was shoddily researched, told lies, harmed the character of what appears to be an innocent man, and has opened up the BBC to potential legal action.

Can Newsnight recover from this? Probably, but no doubt there will be changes. Perhaps we will see an end to their investigative reporting, and instead they will concentrate on their strengths with topical discussions and interviews.

In the mean time, Eddie Mair brilliantly presented tonight’s rather down-beat edition, giving every impression that he is personally disappointed in Newsnight, and ending with the words “Newsnight will be back on Monday… probably…”
location: St Andrews, Scotland
tobyaw: (Frogmarch 2002 - Whitby)
posted by [personal profile] tobyaw at 03:50pm on 11/03/2011 under
The BBC reports the 30th anniversary of the Lee Jeans factory sit-in in Greenock, which it calls a “a highly significant chapter in Scottish labour relations”. At an event at the Scottish Parliament yesterday, Duncan McNeil, Labour MSP for Greenock and Inverclyde, called it “a landmark victory against a US multinational”.

After a seven-month sit-in in 1981, a management buy-out saved the factory, and the 140 protesting workers were re-employed. It was hailed a great victory.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-12703205 (recent news story)
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-12366211 (a bit of history)

Two years later, in June 1983, the new management called in receivers, and the factory closed.

Is the sit-in something to celebrate? Or just a sad footnote in the history of Scotland's industrial decline?
location: St Andrews, Scotland
tobyaw: (Frogmarch 2002 - Whitby)
posted by [personal profile] tobyaw at 03:50pm on 11/03/2011 under
The BBC reports the 30th anniversary of the Lee Jeans factory sit-in in Greenock, which it calls a “a highly significant chapter in Scottish labour relations”. At an event at the Scottish Parliament yesterday, Duncan McNeil, Labour MSP for Greenock and Inverclyde, called it “a landmark victory against a US multinational”.

After a seven-month sit-in in 1981, a management buy-out saved the factory, and the 140 protesting workers were re-employed. It was hailed a great victory.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-12703205 (recent news story)
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-12366211 (a bit of history)

Two years later, in June 1983, the new management called in receivers, and the factory closed.

Is the sit-in something to celebrate? Or just a sad footnote in the history of Scotland's industrial decline?
location: St Andrews, Scotland
tobyaw: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] tobyaw at 04:59pm on 12/01/2011 under , ,
location: St Andrews, Scotland
tobyaw: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] tobyaw at 04:59pm on 12/01/2011 under , ,
location: St Andrews, Scotland
tobyaw: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] tobyaw at 11:38am on 07/11/2010 under ,
Journalists at the BBC went on strike. The world didn’t stop. A few unfamiliar faces appeared on the BBC News channel; maybe this is a good career break for them.

I find it quite disturbing seeing highly-paid BBC journalists striking. Some of the presenters who didn’t work during the strike earn astonishingly high salaries. Due to the unique way that the BBC is funded, we collectively feel a sense of ownership of the BBC; these strikers are working for us. Of course some of the striking journalists are on relatively low salaries too, but one has to imagine that even for them working at the BBC is a pretty cushy job compared to commercial television news, or newspapers.

I can’t understand why anyone who pays high-rate tax should be allowed to strike. They should sack the lot of them; that would save the BBC some money.
location: St Andrews, Scotland
tobyaw: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] tobyaw at 11:38am on 07/11/2010 under ,
Journalists at the BBC went on strike. The world didn’t stop. A few unfamiliar faces appeared on the BBC News channel; maybe this is a good career break for them.

I find it quite disturbing seeing highly-paid BBC journalists striking. Some of the presenters who didn’t work during the strike earn astonishingly high salaries. Due to the unique way that the BBC is funded, we collectively feel a sense of ownership of the BBC; these strikers are working for us. Of course some of the striking journalists are on relatively low salaries too, but one has to imagine that even for them working at the BBC is a pretty cushy job compared to commercial television news, or newspapers.

I can’t understand why anyone who pays high-rate tax should be allowed to strike. They should sack the lot of them; that would save the BBC some money.
location: St Andrews, Scotland

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