BBC Rant

Lauren Dempster asked a question (about a year and a half ago!) which got me going when I read it today:

This was going to be a comment, but turned into a full-on rant!

The BBC news output is of an increasingly poor standard, if you ask me. Much of it is inane, self-obsessed, drivel or pointless “analysis” which actually amounts to stating the bleeding obvious.

For example, a news announcer gives a nice précis of a story. So far so good.

They then “go live” to a correspondent who is standing outside the venue describing how events are “unfolding”. Said correspondent then repeats the précis, often word for word, adding no additional information. As with most events, the unfolding generally takes the form of nothing much happening for long periods of time. Often, nothing more is going to happen anyway, because the “event” has already taken place.

To fill in the gaps, the correspondent is asked to speculate on why/what/how “it” happened. They happily do this with minimal recourse to factual information (as they have none at this point). Quite often this speculation will end with a reiteration of the précis.

No better informed than we were when we started, we now return to the studio, and cut to an “expert” who has joined the announcer. They are then asked to comment, generally resulting in further reiteration and inane speculation. They have minimal actual knowledge because nobody actually knows what’s going on.


This is all bad enough, but it becomes much, much worse when the story is about the media itself, and exponentially worse again if it is about the BBC. Ross & Grant anyone?

Then there’s the use of phrases like “stepping up” and “the pressure is mounting” or “is under increasing pressure”. These are typically used to indicate that something is still happening, or even just that the media are still talking about something that happened a while ago. So they will say “Gordon Brown is under increasing pressure today as revelations about the donuts-for-honours scandal continue to emerge” - when what they actually mean is “Remember that thing yesterday about the bloke with the donuts, well, we’re still talking about it because nothing else has happened”.

Most of this isn’t unique to the BBC of course, but I’m certain that the BBC is getting worse.

And as for the “arts” slots on the Today programme - give me strength!

Right, calm down, deep breaths…