Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

Radio Sundays

The constancy of my childhood provides many fond memories, particularly the sanctuary that Sunday provided. Sunday lunch was the only time you could guarantee my father would be sitting at the head of the table and the meal would be a treasure of treats and abundance that left one sated beyond that necessary for life. It always ended with one of my mothers wonderful pudding, rich and sweet giving us a rare sugar rush.

Post Sunday lunch we would all recline in the sitting room to listen to the BBC Light Programme broadcast a comedy gem such as Navy Lark, the Clitheroe Kid, Hancocks Half Hour and the Glums. The apparent simplicity of the humour belies the skill that writers such as Lawrie Wyman, George Evans, James Casey, Frank Roscoe, Frank Muir and Denis Norden. These programmes created real characters that had us in hysterics and still frequent my MP3 player or are enjoyed on BBC Radio 7.

The most skilful and perhaps my favourite is Round the Horne that developed from Beyond Our Ken written by Eric Merriman. Barry Took and Marty Feldman wrote the scripts and poked fun at the straight laced programme controllers without them realising what was happening. The adventures of the camp couple Julian and Sandy, at a time when homosexuals were imprisoned, thumbed a very big nose at the puritans. There are some good quality comedy programmes on the radio but very few are as enduring or as creative as those of the golden age of the 1950s and 60s.

Directing Your Way To A Fortune

bbcThe BBC has published the pay details of its top executives in a move to try and placate the many individuals who complain about the way public money is spent on over inflated salaries. The attempt to be open has shown to be rather pathetic as the pay details of some 300 senior staff have not been published. If they aim to be open and honest they have failed at the first attempt.

Looking down the list of people and their jobs one quickly comes to the conclusion the BBC is living in a world of its own where every minute task needs to be controlled and directed. Thus there are nine directors just to look after all the BBC staff and another to look after audiences. Scanning the list of staff is like watching a gravy train passing by with each carriage full to bursting.

In defending the very high salaries the BBC trots out the well worn argument of the need to pay the going rate to get the best staff. Its an argument used by many organisations, but one they fail to realise is a spiral that can only end in disaster. If everyone is chasing the best the cost will just keep increasing to unsustainable levels. I’m sure there are many capable people who would do these jobs for a lot less. However, that would mean those who appointment them seeing their pay packets drop. Turkeys and Christmas come to mind.

Broadcaster Freedom To Be A Biased Broadcaster

bbc-news-channelJames Murdoch’s call to end the dominant position of the BBC in the news media is, he claims, in the interests of ensuring the independence of journalism in the UK. That is an interesting idea when one considers the biased nature of some of the output from his own media companies. The Fox network is accused of favouring the political right by many political commentators on both sides of the Atlantic.

In the UK the Murdoch’s newspapers the Sun and The Times been accused of being biased and his satellite service Sky TV hold the monopoly on broadcasting many major sporting events to the point where they have been accused of holding pubs and clubs to ransom over the cost of showing the more popular sporting events.

The News Corporation is one of the worlds largest media companies with a turnover of almost $22 billion in 2008. Perhaps James Murdoch is concerned that the BBC, with a turnover of just £4.5 billion, is able to provide a service of higher quality that is respected around the world. Of course the fact that there are no shareholders or advertisers influencing the BBC’s output might be the reason it is so successful.

Its Only Good If Its Got A Celebrity

AllotmentIn today’s Sunday Mail colour supplement is an article about Sky News presenter Kay Burley’s exploits in growing her own food. The pictures that accompany the article show Kay in three different outfits each carefully posed to show her at her best and not the real subject of the article the fruit, vegetables and chickens she is raising for the dinner table.

An important role of the media is to keep the public informed; keeping an allotment and growing your own food is has become very popular and is worthy of objective and informative coverage. Unfortunately the article is typical of the way the media feel that unless there is a celebrity at the centre of the action the public will be uninterested in the subject matter. What happens, of course, is the subject is only used as a vehicle to promote a celebrity who ultimately becomes the focus.

Allotments are not just about growing your own food, they also increase community cohesion and provide opportunities for families to work together, teach children about food, nutrition and the environment. There are many very interesting stories stemming from the resurgence in interest in allotments, its a pity the Sunday Mail did not give the story the importance it deserves.

Easy Writing For Easy Money

I am assuming that BBC correspondents get paid a fee for contributing to the non core elements of the BBC such as their Magazine, but even if they do not one would expect they would put a bit of effort into their outpourings. The BBC’s Paul Reynolds article, Hell on Earth, is a case in point. This is typical of the no effort output we often see in newspapers and magazines and which some writers have made the basis of their careers. The formula is simple, take an everyday event or pastime and knock it about a bit by adopting a derogatory stance.

In this example http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/8119428.stm the occupation enjoyed by thousands of people is turned into some sort of horror story with out any underlying substance, facts or evidence. Its simple and quick to write and does not require any effort to research. Its presented in a tongue in cheek style that dose not challenge the intellect of the reader but fails to achieve its humorous aim.

Many newspapers now pay celebrities to write these articles on the assumption they have something interesting to say. Of course they do not so they have to revert to this easily produced style, some going as far as being deliberately obnoxious just to get a reaction as opposed to getting a valid view point across. Our newspapers and magazines are sadly lacking in quality writing, but I would have expected the BBC to avoid falling into the same trap.

Write On The Spot

Sunday mornings are precious; there is something very indulgent in sitting in the dining room wrapped in a warm dressing gown with the Sunday papers and Radio 4 while partaking in a very leisurely breakfast. Getting showered and dressed before midday would seem to be too enthusiastic. We should all make time for ourselves and now is mine.

We have several weekend papers, each providing a particular view of the world through the minds of the feature writers. Some, like Julie Burchill, I ignore. They have nothing constructive or intelligent to say. The whole of their writing is about trying to be controversial or antagonistic. Unfortunately, even though their writing is well constructed, they are not clever enough to be either.

John-Paul Flintoff is one of the few writers that is able to effectively and succinctly hit the spot. I may not always agree with his writing but I can easily understand his view-point. These commentators on modern society deserve greater exposure. Its rare for the general public to get their voice heard, so we must hope someone in the public eye speaks on our behalf. Unfortunately few who do, do so from an entirely independent stance.