Archive for Evil Big Buisiness

I Believe in the BBC

Posted in BBC, Evil Big Buisiness, Journalism, Media with tags , , , on October 14, 2009 by pieman70

Apologies for this long, rambling and ranty post

At the recent Edinburgh TV Festival the Mac Taggart lecture was delivered by James Murdoch, Son of Rupert Murdoch Billionaire Tyrant and owner of News international.  His speech attacked the BBC calling in particular for the online news service to be scaled back or completely removed, and argued that the only true guarantor of independent journalism was profit.  This of course has nothing whatsoever to do with News international wanting to charge for online versions of their paper, and this being hard because

1, a cardinal rule of the internet is that it is very hard to charge for something that you previously offered for free

2, it is even harder to charge for something when someone else is offering a superior product for free.

Fortunately in a room full of professionals and educated people, this didn’t really wash, and most saw this for what it was, the usual Murdoch dislike of anything they can’t buy or drive out of business.  However there are fears that in order to gain press support some backroom deals may well be made by both parties next election to begin the dismantling of the BBC.

Murdoch’s argument sounds valid, who wouldn’t trust an independent company, who have to make a profit over something government run, except the BBC has many safeguards in place to stop it being the governments propaganda wing.  In fact the BBC has been one of the biggest critics of the government, even in its current gun shy state after the brutal attack the government made on it over the Iraq dossier.  In fact if anything it’s the profit driven news companies who deserve more scrutiny as they show what news gathering would be like under a purely commercial model.

In Nick Davis’ book “Flat Earth News” he describes what he calls the “news Factory” an environment which exists when companies run news organisations for the maximum amount of profit.  In these news factories such as those run by news international, staff are overworked and short on time, and in general stories are run direct from the news wire or indeed more often than not reworded from corporate press releases or other papers articles (A process referred to as Churnalism) with minimal to no fact checking.  This leaves the commercial news operators wide open to distortion by PR companies, and the like.  It also creates a style of journalism that stays away from dangerous stories, namely watch what you say about big companies, or anything not form an “Official Source”  The BBC has fallen into this trap as well, although not as badly as those run by companies like News International.

The second problem with profit driven news is what I call the Daily Mail syndrome.  The Daily Mail is Britain’s best selling paper, it is also full of distortions presenting a view of the UK as a nation swamped with foreigners all raiding our lucrative benefits system, while white hard working taxpayers foot the bill, it shows a Britain swarming with feral youths and crime, which naturally only hanging and the birch would solve.  It also, as has been said by better men than me, has engaged in a rather odd project to classify all inanimate objects into those that cause or cure cancer.  When questioned, the Mail defends itself by stating that it reflects the views of its readers, and I don’t doubt that, it reflects the worrying state of mind of little Englanders and paranoid xenophobes everywhere.  It also pedals racism and constantly misrepresents the facts to fit its agenda.  And this sells by the bucket load.  In short, it works on a principle of “hell with the facts, tell them what they want to hear and we make money” That is what profit driven news gives you.

A great example of the true faults with profit driven news occurred at the end of last year during Israel’s attacks on Palestine.  The Sun, a News international paper, ran a story about Islamic extremists creating a hit list of prominent UK Jews.  Sir Alan Sugar was on this list (And he successfully sued the Sun, more on that in a bit).  The Story was sourced from a supposed independent Terror Expert named Glen Jevaney, who claimed he had been staking out internet forums for just this ort of thing.  Jevaney was backed by Tory MP Patrick Mercer, A shadow cabinet minister, so official source.  This story was published in the Sun with minimal fact checking.  Several independent bloggers, most notably Tim Ireland of Bloggerheads (www.bloggerheads.com and I can only recommend you read his expose on this yourself) and that’s independent as in they do this for free, did what the profit driven media did not and looked into this.  It transpired, and eventually broke recently on radio 5, that the person posting on an Islamic website about targeting high profile Jews was Glen Jevaney, he’d been trying to bait the residents into providing a story, and when none bit, he used his own posts as evidence of extremism.  He was found out, not by professional journalists, but by enthusiastic amateurs who were not held to costs or deadlines.

So, to conclude, the BBC, if it has any problems at all in its news gathering, it is that it tries too often to emulate the commercial companies.  James Murdoch is wrong; the profit motive provides shoddy journalism.  The best comes from having time and the guts to follow a story in detail, do research and properly investigate.  So far the profit medial provides none of this.

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Trade fair Damnit

Posted in Coffee, Evil Big Buisiness, Fairtrade, Food, Supermarkets with tags , , , , on June 19, 2008 by pieman70

I like coffee, more than a man should perhaps, but i am also a wishy-washy namby-pamby loony-liberal. What this really means is that I like little ways of being slightly less cruel to the world around me and people I’ve never met. With my coffee, and with food as far as I can, I’ll go for fairtrade. Most high street chains respect this and offer fairtrade or, more normally, have fairtrade as standard. Starbucks do fairtrade pretty much by default, that’s starbucks, the evil ones. Now flavour wise fairtrade is no different to your unfairly traded coffee (Organic can change that but that’s a whole other argument) but it costs more because apparently if we want to treat farmers fairly we will have to pay for it rather than big companies taking small cuts in their massive profits.

Anyway, I was in sainsburys last night and was trying to pick up some coffee (Real stuff, instant is not coffee, its coffee flavouring) and I was particularly keen on a 2 for £3 offer, however in Sainsbury’s own range there are 4 fairtrade options out of about 15, A basic Colombian, and organic and a decaff equivalent of each. This is pretty much standard across all the major chains, and is in my view pretty unacceptable. Think of it this way, the only difference between the beans bought for Sainsbury’s Fairtrade Colombian coffee and its unfair trade equivalent, is how much the people producing it were paid. This seems absurd when you think about it, Sainsbury’s, or Tesco, or Asda, or Morrison’s, go to Columbia, and buy two sacks of coffee, for one they say “We’ll pay you £20 for this” and for the other, for Fair Trade, they say “We’ll pay you £100 for this” this must lead to some confused coffee producers. Its almost as if Fair trade is treated like a separate product, and there are few who are not guilty, Whittards don’t have a 100% fairtrade range of coffees, Taylor’s of Harrogate have no Fairtrade markings except on designated fairtrade brands and as previously specified all the major supermarkets have a mix.

So, to the Fairtrade people, I say stop this, don’t let people away with this anymore. I will look at buying Cafe Direct or that ilk if the supermarket won’t sell me fairtrade, so stop letting them away with this, I won’t hold them to 100% fiartrade yet, although the Co-Op is there with its own brand stuff, but don’t allow a fairtrade range anymore, deny them the use of your mark if they won’t buy all their coffee fairtrade.