Feeds

What's Auntie for, exactly?

Impartiality and the BBC

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Recently:

  • Science ran a piece on how changes to the stratosphere will affect surface climate. It concluded [PDF] that predicting the dynamics was "a substantial task", and one not yet undertaken by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
  • Nature had an essay on the dynamics of ocean mixing, which in the long term could offset slowing of the North Atlantic thermohaline circulation brought about by more rain and more melting at the North Pole. It argued that "much remains to be discovered" [PDF - subscription required].
  • The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published on the "irreducible" imprecision of computer models of atmosphere and oceans.

Each of these uncertainties has a texture as chocolatey as the BBC Trust's beloved Wagon Wheel. Yet the BBC insists on the old dry Seesaw approach. It repeatedly puts reporters in front of fast-dripping glaciers or spreading deserts and gets them to express their personal shock, awe, loss, and disgust. Then, back in the studio, a gnarled "sceptic" may occasionally be wheeled on to show that the Beeb still gives a voice to Creatures from Another Planet.

What we need from the BBC is leadership, and - as far as is possible - dispassionate enquiry, objective facts, and dispassionate presentation of those facts. Instead, we get dumbed-down moral absolutes, far-out footage, and a sprinkling of "balance". Nobody at the BBC says this is the strategy; but BBC News, in particular, applies it with the utmost vigour.

One might ask why.

The answer is that, faced with falling ratings, the Beeb is desperate to find emotional connection with the masses. That's why, for instance, it has continued to milk the abduction of Madeleine McCann for all it's worth.

In this kind of approach to the world, the BBC is not alone. The same loss of clear identity, mission, nerve, and legitimacy, and the same flight into a subjective, Narnia world of Good vs Evil, afflicts all other institutions of the British state. For proof, look only at the British Army in Iraq.

Now that it thinks its business is online advertising and iPlayers, what's the British Broadcasting Corporation for, exactly? To answer that, Britain will first have to learn anew what Britain is for. ®

James Woudhuysen is Professor of Forecasting and Innovation at De Montfort University, Leicester and a contributor to Spiked.

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Special pleading against mass surveillance won't help anyone
Protecting journalists alone won't protect their sources
Big Content Australia just blew a big hole in its credibility
AHEDA's research on average content prices did not expose methodology, so appears less than rigourous
Vodafone to buy 140 Phones 4u stores from stricken retailer
887 jobs 'preserved' in the process, says administrator PwC
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.