July 13, 2005

Reflecting on real journalism

Roger Mosey, head of BBC Television News, has a piece in today's Guardian (free registration required) discussing what it's been like to be the definitive source for reporting on the tragic London bombings. Coming from the director of one of the world's best news organizations, the brief article is an understated affirmation of what TV journalism should aspire to be: accurate, responsible, thoughtful. And I'm glad Mosey addresses one egregious example of everything TV news should not be. If you still watch Fox News, you should know you're an asshole, and a poorly informed one at that:
Finally, we are never immune from accusations of bias. It goes without saying that there is nothing more sensitive than matters of life and death, and the BBC's audience response has been massively supportive and understanding about the dilemmas we face in reporting terror. There have been two main exceptions. From a smattering of radical websites comes the argument that we are being hypocritical in mourning the dead of London when we allegedly gloried in civilian deaths in Iraq.

This utterly misrepresents the BBC's reporting of Iraq, where we have always sought to portray the whole picture of events in that country. The second exception is principally Fox News in the United States. A contributor to Fox said after the London bombings that "the BBC almost operates as a foreign registered agent of Hezbollah and some of the other jihadist groups". On the Fox website today there is an opinion piece, "How Jane Fonda and the BBC put you in danger". I am writing this in a building which was bombed by Irish terrorists. My colleagues and I are living in a city recovering from the wounds inflicted last week. If I may leave our customary impartiality aside for a moment, the comments made on Fox News are beneath contempt.

10 comments:

  1. "If you still watch Fox News, you should know you're an asshole, and a poorly informed one at that"

    I wear my "Fox News Asshole, and proud of it!" t-shirt every other day. On the "odd" days, I wear my red "I'm a TLGB Gadfly, and proud of it" t-shirt.

    Since I appear to be the only con willing to post his name on this site, I have to show some loyalty, right.

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  2. It's interesting how Fox News has everyone, even the great Beeb, on the run. But at least in the states, where do you go for fair & balanced, certainly not ABC, CBS and NBC. Since you guys are so informed, I'm sure you've seen the new stats.

    Do you think "REAL" journalism is exampled by BBC attributing to the Fox News organization some obtuse reference by a "contributor" to Fox News, whoever that may be, and a quote from Bill O'Reilly's 'Talking Points' memo? How pathetic. That BBC would bring this up is remarkable. They actually do apear threatened by Fox...

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  3. They actually do apear threatened by Fox...

    Fox's success in the ratings despite their dubious "journalism" forces other media organizations to take them seriously as what they are: a dangerous threat to democracy. To mistake their effective marketing for truth, however, would be an act of folly.

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  4. Bill, if you'd just do a little research, you'd find the contributor to Fox News said that on the O'Reilly Factor, Fox's most-watched and influential program, and that O'Reilly, far from challenging that outrageous claim, agreed with the sentiment of the statement.

    You yourself recognize Fox is the "most powerful" force in "news" (as they actually call themselves), but then you argue the BBC shouldn't defend itself against Fox's sensational accusation. You're damn right they feel threatened by Fox, which is openly hostile towards all its enemies.

    Good thing the BBC is too smart to play into your trap.

    And in case you missed the story watching Fox News, here's the classic 2003 study showing how Fox News viewers were fundamentally ignorant or incorrect about basic real-world facts having to do with the Iraq war (three times more likely than the PBS-NPR audience to answer that the U.S. had actually found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq).

    Surely you didn't get that one wrong, did you Bill?

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  5. Guys, since when does Bill O'reily or Sean Hannity or Alan Colmes speak for Fox News. These are very popular shows, true, they may influence people, true, but you guys were referencing "Journalism", and news reporting. O'Reilly Hannity et al. are no different from Limbaugh, Savage, Boortz or Air America. They are entertainment/opinion, not news, and certainly not "REAL" journalism.

    Show me independent statistics over time that indicates Fox News broadcasts are as slanted, tainted, unfair, blatantly right-wing, as abc and cbs are negative toward the adminstration/Bush, then maybe you have a point.

    I don't watch the BBC, but I bet it has similar right-wing and or left-wing opinion shows. But I assumed you were talking about hard news coverage.

    Also, I never said the BBC shouldn't defend itself, I was just frankly taken back by their notice of little ol' Fox. Silly me. Plus, I don't think attributing anything said or agreed to by a mostly right-wing pundit like O'Reilly is not fair and balanced reporting as applied to Fox News. Trash talk, in other words. But then, it wasn't "BBC talking", just an interview with one of its execs.

    George, anything I or any other right-thinking American is a threat to democracy in your view. So, it's not really the Fox News broadcast that concerns you, it's that Fox dares to put an openly conservative pundit on the air, and what's worse, it's amazingly popular!!!

    But Chris, they did find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Not stockpiles, but WMD's, for sure. So if the ignoramouses said WMD's were found, they were right.

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  6. Guys, since when does Bill O'reily or Sean Hannity or Alan Colmes speak for Fox News. These are very popular shows, true, they may influence people, true, but you guys were referencing "Journalism", and news reporting. O'Reilly Hannity et al. are no different from Limbaugh, Savage, Boortz or Air America. They are entertainment/opinion, not news, and certainly not "REAL" journalism.

    Show me independent statistics over time that indicates Fox News broadcasts are as slanted, tainted, unfair, blatantly right-wing, as abc and cbs are negative toward the adminstration/Bush, then maybe you have a point.

    I don't watch the BBC, but I bet it has similar right-wing and or left-wing opinion shows. But I assumed you were talking about hard news coverage.

    Also, I never said the BBC shouldn't defend itself, I was just frankly taken back by their notice of little ol' Fox. Silly me. Plus, I don't think attributing anything said or agreed to by a mostly right-wing pundit like O'Reilly is fair and balanced critcism of Fox News. Trash talk, in other words. But then, it wasn't "BBC talking", just an interview with one of its execs.

    George, anything I or any other right-thinking American is a threat to democracy in your view. So, it's not really the Fox News broadcast that concerns you, it's that Fox dares to put an openly conservative pundit on the air, and what's worse, it's amazingly popular!!!

    But Chris, they did find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Not stockpiles, but WMD's, for sure. So if the ignoramouses said WMD's were found, they were right.

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  7. Sorry, ignore comment #5, screwed up in editing. bill

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  8. Guys, since when does Bill O'reily or Sean Hannity or Alan Colmes speak for Fox News.

    The other two are clearly partisans, but O'Reilly's show is the "No Spin Zone." He tells it like it is and only asks that others "shut up!"

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  9. "No Spin Zone." He tells it like it is and only asks that others "shut up!"

    Exactly. So that makes him "Fox News". I don't think so.

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  10. But really, the point is that Fox is ruining the political discourse in this country. Your average Fox viewer is likely to be wrong about basic facts (such as whether Saddam Hussein planned 9/11) than those who use any other news source. This channel is propoganda, and, yes, it is destroying our democracy.

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