Friday, May 15, 2009

Told You: it's all the BBC's Fault

From the "new" Evening Standard.

But the prospects for American journalism seem better than those of the British variety for one reason: the BBC. The corporation has a fantastic website.

That's hardly surprising, since it spends £145 million a year of licence-fee payers' money on it. According to Paul Zwillenberg of OC&C consultants, all Britain's national newspapers put together spend around £100 million on their online efforts. And the BBC's website is, of course, free, which makes it tricky for less well-funded competitors to start charging.

If the BBC is allowed to go on dominating online news it will undermine other news providers' ability to survive on the internet, and thus threaten the diversity of news sources that is crucial to a democracy.

If its freedom or funding is cut, the quality of its service will decline, but others will have a chance to grow.

Everything is in freefall, so cut the beacon of quality? The author is this piece begins:
When I first went into journalism it was a leisurely business steeped in tradition and alcohol.

The lunches were heavy, the duties were light, and in most newsrooms older members of staff snored the afternoons away over their typewriters, their slumbers undisturbed by the philistine notions of efficiency and shareholder value that elbowed their way into the business in subsequent years.

Philistine notions? The author continues:
Journalism helps society to hold politicians to account; molecular biology, or hairdressing, or whatever it is you do, doesn't.

Remind me who holds journalists to account? And who missed the credit crunch? And who watched without comment the Politician's Expenses for the last - what is it? - twenty years? (Kevin Maguire in the Daily Mirror now says that it is all Margaret Thatcher's fault):
Maggie Thatcher inflated expenses in the late 1980s to pad out MPs' pay packets with a nod and a wink.
The Rusty Lady's greater crime was to unleash a greed-is-good culture and trash the noble ideal of public service, civil servants required by the Tories to be One Of Us. The grocer's daughter knew the price of everything and value of nothing, fatally undermining the quality of public life.

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