Newswatch... ed not very often

I have just had to write to Newswatch, and, I fear, complain...

I have just watched your latest episode, with senior something Peter Horrocks ironically responding to suggestions of airy 'we're right' dismissal of complaints with mostly airy 'we're right' dismissals. I don't think 'we talk about it' was really the best answer to the actual question posed. Shame Mr. Snoddy did not pursue. We wish him well in his new, more senior, and I am sure responsible role bearing this country's name around the world.

I watched the weekend, having been intrigued by an advertisement earlier that referred to Newswatch 'challenging the news makers.'

An interesting statement reflecting, I suspect, the corporate mindset. I had thought the point of any news entity, especially the BBC, was just to report it. I guess this goes to the new agenda where events get interpreted, truth is assisted to emerge and narratives get enhanced. A pity that all this seems to be carried out with a thick coating of institutional group think to ensure that all these 'enhancements' happen in a manner that ensures the public get the messages, and are told how to think, in the 'right' way. Going from 4M to 11m viewers may be good for target-based executive bonuses, but not really as effective in meeting the BBC's remit, surely?

The slot on the Click PC attack was most interesting, as was the, now familiar, 'airy' reply by the grumpy editor whose turn it was to be dragged out early to fob off the plebs (or, in the case of Google, ex-BBC editors who seem to think airy replies can translate to the commercial sector if you used to work in a senior BBC position). I think he ended with 'We did not set out to break the law... but if we did... it was with good intentions'. I personally think the story was a good one, and the basic intentions valid indeed. But that was not the point. And the whole piece, as so often happens, went full circle getting no one anywhere or any the wiser. I would have loved to see the 'interview' delve deeper into the expert IT reader suggestion that the 'attack' be made on the BBC's worldwide network as opposed to unknowing, and possibly unwilling external victims (ie: get the bloke to answer the actual question). Afraid it might have messed with your precious systems? It seems the law was broken, but somehow deemed acceptable in this case for no better reason than the BBC was the culprit and hence clearly above reproach. Not good enough. And a very poor precedent, especially for any entity who may take it upon itself to comment and judge (as it does, now... often. Usually by the simple trick of wheeling on a 'commentator' who conveniently is not 'employed' directly by the BBC, but certainly ticks the required boxes*) on those of us who my breach the letter, if not the spirit of the law. It creates a multiplicity of standards. Not healthy in a decaying civil society. I'd like to highlight many things, and 'have thought long and hard' too, but suspect that breaking the law might not be deemed as forgivably in my personal case.

But I can't fault the accuracy of that ad. Clearly the BBC does see itself now more as a maker of news rather than an objective reporter. Bad enough in my view. But the contempt shown by a few minutes aired off peak in insincere mea cuplas (if that) before most of the country is awake is truly inexcusable.

I don't expect a reply, but if I did I'll add to a growing, ignoble collection. ''We're sorry you feel...yada yada. Sorry it is late..yada yada. We know our team and senior management desire and expect us to... yada yada. To the point at issue... it didn't happen. Ok, it did, but not in the way you say. OK, it did, but it was a glitch. We have only a few billion and tens of thousands of staff who like leaving early to go skiing at the weekend, so mistakes will happen. But we'll log it. Hey, what can you do? We're immune. Don't reply to this because I'm not real and you need to go back into the system to take it higher if you are that naive and have time to waste. And then it will end up, eventually, with the well named Trust. We certainly trust them to make sure you get the same reply as this, only in a more caring, listening and sincere manner. With the same intention. And effect. To make our customers give up and go away and leave us clear to spend their money on what we want without being troubled by any of that annoying stuff real businesses have to worry about.'

Which maybe why what gets apologised for, no matter how 'unacceptable', gets repeated or aired again, and again...

A service worth £139.50 (and rising, for some reason) of anyone's money I'd say. Not.

Yours faithfully,

ps: Care to explain why the archive was last updated, as far as I can see from the site search at least, in June 2007? Budget issues?

Labour’s latest Tory trap - 'Labour’s tax trap soon brought me a phone call from the BBC. Would I like to go on to condemn the 45p? If I said yes, that would make the story “Tory tax wars”, which they would love. Meanwhile yesterday an offer to appear on Newsnight to discuss the debt petered out without any explanation before I had the details of time and place, and an accepted offer to do the Today programme this morning on the same subject was cancelled. Was it something I said, or something I would not say?'

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