Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Kudos To Our Media Friends Across The Pond

Last week, I got myself a Roku player, the cable box for people who are too cheap to pay for cable. Among the many charms of the device is that it gives me access to the BBC World News, a 24-hour news network. I can't watch Fox News, but I can watch the News Of the World hearings live! Which I wouldn't find on Fox News anyway.

Right now Rebekah Brooks (former NOTW chief)  is insisting that they only found out last December that there even might have been a a phone hacking policy at the paper, and only two weeks ago about the Dowler case, where freelance investigators hacked into a murdered girl's cell messages, and erased them to make room for new messages. As you'd expect, this assertion is being met with skepticism by the labor MPs and cautious sympathy by the conservative ones. It would be fawning sympathy if the polling was more on Murdoch's side.

The BBC is the only government-run news source I will ever trust. They have an insane policy of covering their own bosses as if they were any other corporate entity. Even if doing their job well means they could lose their job, they barrel ahead with fair and accurate reportage. In fact, in 2004 a BBC radio reporter was made to resign over reporting that later turned out to be true. It kind of reminds me of Bridge On The River Kwai, where Alec Guinness is a British POW who is charged by his Japanese captors with building a bridge to help their war effort. Guinness insists on his men doing the best job they can, to prove the moral superiority of the British.

This coverage of the hearings is a perfect example of BBC reportage - it's embarrassing to the highest levels of British governance, many of whom are very chummy with News Corp and probably owe their elections to it. If a for-profit were covering the story, you wouldn't trust them because they have a dog in the hunt - they want to demolish News Corp and get their market share. The BBC is paid for already, and doesn't need big numbers. On the other hand, they have a stake in honest fair reporting, because otherwise why not just turn the whole operation over to the commercial providers? The competition from SkyNews and Channel 4 and what have you does help keep them honest, as well as providing a place for potentially fired reporters to go, so they can afford to report honestly.

So the takeaway: BBC news - noble, honest, and a testament to the moral superiority of the British.  Good on ya, mate!

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