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Auntie Beeb Blues

Just how low can the BBC World Service sink? Most hostage situations are about gaining publicity. So why would the BBC spend 90 minutes or so in two hours of broadcasting on Monday's hostage taking in Sydney, Australia? The facts could be summed up in four or five sentences. So, the BBC filled the rest of the time with speculation and bizarre interviews with people who had seen police cars near the coffee shop where the hostages were being held. Police at the scene of a hostage-taking - Hold the Front Page! What the BBC was basically saying through its prolonged and unenlightening coverage was that if you are a maladjusted loner, take some hostages and we'll devote three-quarters of our news programming to giving you publicity. Sadly, news broadcasting is becoming less about the facts and more and more about what social media is saying about events. A friend down in the United States was complaining that the BBC World Service news is now being carried by his favourite radio station in the morning. At first, my national pride was hurt. But then when I thought about it, he had a point. The time is coming when the pompous and self-satisfied National Public Radio network in the United States is going to be a more reliable news provided than Auntie Beeb. A couple of months back in the space of an hour the BBC World Service told me that Oscar Pistorius's defence team had requested a psychiatric report on the legless killer during his trial in South Africa and that rogue Toronto mayor Rob Ford was expected to announce that day whether he was going to run for re-election. Neither was true. The BBC World Service is taking a wrong turn. It's attempting to be social media on the wireless. Why would any professional media outlet ape social media? The internet is where I go for social media, the wireless if where I go for news.  I'm not saying that the Sydney hostage-taking should have gone unreported on the BBC; just that when there is little to report, then report little. I can't help but wonder if the hostages had been taken in Islamabad or New Delhi  whether so much time would have been devoted the covering events. People like us?


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