Saturday, May 29, 2010

I was moved to write to the BBC over their news coverage yesterday. I listened to the six thirty news headlines on Radio 4, which included two novelty items: one story about the European cup having been played for by two teams of policemen a couple of decades ago, when it was lost and handed into the police at Sheffield; and one on the Indian police force having arrested a "spy pigeon" which they suspected was working for Pakistan.

It's often the case that on slow news days, the last heading is a novelty or good-news item, but on this particular day, the president of Guatemala had declared a state of calamity, following an eruption of the volcano Pacaya which overshadows the capital, Guatemala City.

I only happened to know about this because I am subscribed to a couple of sites which seem to report on every natural disaster, in case this should be a portent of global warming gone mad, or the beginning of the end. It's an efficient way to be notified of all the significant weather, tectonic and volcanic events in the world.

Once upon a time, I turned to the BBC for what I considered was a balanced and intelligent view of the world, but more and more they have turned from their previous position as the broadsheet of broadcast news to a position which is now teetering on the brink of becoming the red-top tabloid of broadcast news.

They are covering more and more entertainment, celebrity and pop science stories, and less and less in-depth news stories. Where once you could have kept pretty much up to date and aware by following the BBC news site, I don't think that's the case any longer. They do have the story on their website now.

While they pay lipservice to the ideas of citizen journalism, having facilities to enable you to send in your best photograph, or your view if you are involved in the stories of the day, actually theirs is a pretty unresponsive site, which picks and chooses which stories they want a response on, and moderates hard on the replies to those they have chosen to cover.

As for standards of journalism, I think those for the online news site are pretty low, and sinking every day. I find myself migrating more and more to the Guardian News site. I make occasional forays to the Times, but their nnouncement that they plan to charge for access later in the year has put me off it. It will be interesting to see what effect that has later in the year.

Oh Lord. I just realised I have posted a whole blog complaining bout standards in the BBC. I must be getting old.