Archive for the ‘BBC’ Tag

Th!nk About It: The Jury Team – a paradoxical party with a good advert

This Th!nk About It post can also be viewed here.

A good advert by a bad party

A good advert by a bad party

So there I was, trawling through the job listings on w4mp when I came across a rather unusual advert.

For those who don’t know, w4mp is a website primarily for parliamentary interns that lists available jobs in Westminster. Most are unpaid; the rest are under £25k a year.

It was with surprise – and more than a hint of suspicion – then, when I came across a job with a salary of “€91,980 plus expenses”.

I thought it was some kind of joke.

The listing states:

Based in Brussels, with some time in Strasbourg, you will carry huge responsibility, acting as an Independent-minded MEP.

Yes. An advert for an MEP in the upcoming elections has been listed on a website for interns.

What party, I hear you cry, would try and recruit interns as members of the European Parliament?  And how on earth can someone be an independent-minded MEP? Surely an MEP votes in line with their party, right?

Wrong. If we continue reading…

Although advertised by the Jury Team (a political party), if elected you will be free to make your own decisions and vote as you wish on behalf of millions of people within your region.


Unfortunately there’s no turning to the party’s founder, and former Tory HQ director general, Sir Paul Judge for clarification. Because in an interview with the BBC’s Daily Politics he described the Jury Team as a “not-party party”.

Clear as mud, Sir Judge, clear as mud.

So I resorted to the party website

Are you unhappy with the way things are? Do you believe they can change? By joining the Jury Team, you are becoming part of a political party like no other.

The Jury Team is a political movement created with the goal of making politics more accessible, politicians more accountable and political institutions more transparent.

The Jury Team intends to put forward 70 candidates for the UK and we are offering everyone the chance to run as a candidate for the European Parliament.

How very revolutionary. And the revolution doesn’t stop there; because the Jury Team are a new political party, and in virtue of this – as with all new parties – they need a gimmick. UKIP had Kilroy-Silk – the Jury Team has “modern technology”

The BBC dedicated a whole article to the gimmick: the party’s candidates will be selected by text.

I mentioned that I was suspicious when I saw the advert listed on an intern website; the oxymoronic “not-party party” did not quash these concerns, and neither did the texting gimmick. But what makes me most uncomfortable about the Jury Team is its paradoxical nature.

Bear with me.

Let us recall the ‘relativism paradox‘: relativism fails because the relativist says there are no absolutes, and yet has to claim that the relativistic principle is absolutely true. The principle is undermined by its very existence.

Now let us consider the Jury Team, or what I will entitle the ‘Jury Team paradox’: the Jury Team fails because the Jury Teamist says the party-political system is corrupt in virtue of having different parties with different aims. And yet the Jury Team is a party with its own aims (the 12 “proposals” can be found on the website) – the details of the aims are irrelevant.

The Jury Team is undermined by the principles for which it stands; it is undermined by its very existence.

I am still not entirely convinced the Jury Team is not a joke.

Either way, though, its advert is pretty damn good – see top of post. And for that I’ll forgive it a multitude – if not all (it’s hard to ignore inherent paradoxes) – sins.



Th!nk About It: more disappointment, with love from the BBC

Drum roll please… the BBC appear to have launched their ‘European Elections 2009’ efforts – with disappointing results. (This post can also be found here, on my Th!nk About It Page. Yet again – feel free to vote.)

More interesting than the EU?

More interesting than the EU?

I appreciate that this bemoaning of the BBC follows very much in the footsteps of my last Th!nk About It post, but when attempting to cover the EU from a British perspective your media options are bleak. To say the least. Most nationals avoid mentioning the EU at any cost for fear – I assume – of being tagged with the deadly label “pro-EU”, and even the BBC hides its ‘Inside Europe‘ page behind a confusing maze of links and graphics.

Once, however, one has managed to overcome the BBC’s attempts to keep you away, and reached Inside Europe, one might – if one looks hard enough – come across a piece entitled ‘Vote For Us’.

It was at this point that I got rather excited. And not just because when I see an EU name-drop in the British press a Th!nk About It light bulb lights up in my head – an energy efficient one, of course Etan. No, rather, I was excited to see how the BBC was going to kick off its election articles. I was disappointed. Even the first line:

Voters from across the European Union will be electing a new European Parliament in June – the first election since the EU enlarged in 2007, with the accession of Bulgaria and Romania.

inspired in me nothing but a sigh. A huge number of British citizens don’t even know they can vote – and I don’t think this introduction will have them running for the polling booths. The non-inclusive tone of “voters from across the European Union” (ie, “them, not us”) is only going to add to British EU ignorance. And although whether or not the BBC has an obligation to increase the UK public’s knowledge of the EU (what with being a public corporation) is another question (and one to be raised by someone with far more authority than me), I certainly don’t think it should be misleading. Yet, arguably, this is what the first sentence is.

I won’t even draw attention to the fact that it doesn’t give the date of the election.

Things appear to look up, however, when the BBC promises a couple of sentences later:

Here, leaders of the political groups in the outgoing parliament explain why, in their view, people should turn out to vote.

Great, I thought. Something really informative. Something that will not only give me something interesting to blog about, but will also (and maybe slightly more importantly) provide the European voter with compelling, balanced and helpful information enabling them to make an informed decision on 4th June.

Yet again, I was disappointed.

What followed seemed to be a series of SENTENCES (yes, just one sentence) pulled from press releases. A series of seven one-sentence adverts for political parties that appear to say little more than: “vote for me… please, vote for me!”

To illustrate my point:

“For us the European elections are very very important”

“We’ve got a chance here – where there’s no wasted vote – to try to actually say what we think”

“It is very important that electors and voters understand that they have to go to vote, because this is not peanuts…”

And with that, I found myself distracted by a picture below the article captioned: ‘Elephants kiss each other’ and along with (I’m sure) the rest of the British public, I clicked on it, leaving the BBC’s coverage of the Parliament elections far behind and not looking back.

Panorama: An Ode to Peston, with Love from the BBC xxx

I have just watched one of the most ridiculous television programmes my licence fee has ever paid for.

It was entitled ‘Panorama: The Year Britain’s Bubble Burst’, and I know that I’m about two weeks behind everyone else on this… but praise the iPlayer, for I can watch it now.

Now I think it’s fair, when settling down to watch ‘Panorama: The Year Britain’s Bubble Burst’, to live in hope of learning the “inside story of the banking crisis” (as the adverts led us to believe). I was wrong. Turns out the title of the programme is misleading. The most accurate title would be ‘Panorama: An Ode to Peston, with Love from the BBC xxx’.

I started to smell a rat (a stuttering one at that) when they showed Peston’s audition tapes for the position of the BBC’s business editor for no discernible reason, 1 minute 42 seconds in. I grant, they were entertaining – but exactly what effect they have on the banking crisis I am still attempting to work out.

But it was when Ian Blandford, a ‘Presentation Coach’ (this job exists, apparently), came on screen to tell me about Peston’s “vertical thinking” that I attempted to check what channel I was on, before realising that I was watching iPlayer and the title of Panorama quite clearly stated at the bottom of the screen. Incidentally, a man named Ian Blandford – a trained electrician – also presents the BBC’s ‘To Buy or Not To Buy‘… Must be some kind of coincidence.

Ian, fortunately, was followed by a relatively interesting discussion about whether economic journalists have responsibilities to consider the effects of their broadcasts, in the wake of Peston’s Northern Rock scoop.

But things were soon about to go downhill. And at the bottom of that hill was an interview with Peston’s parents and clips from his “Haringey State school” (said with dread – let’s all be impressed he went to state school everyone). But the very lowest point was when we were treated to a slideshow of photos of Peston growing up. Yes, baby photos of Robert Peston. On a Panorama about the world banking crisis.

Enjoy (these are print-screened off the programme – apologies BBC. But almost certainly worth a court case):



Who’d have thought someone who looks so much like a stud (top and bottom right) could look so much like a crim (bottom left)? Amazing. I digress.

And it’s exactly this digression that has got my goat. Give me my goat back, Peston! I want to know the inside story on the banking crisis, as promised. Not what you looked like at 22.

Now I’m as interested in Peston’s sources, horrific pauses and baby photos as the next person; probably more so what with being a journalist in training, specialising in finance and business. But not on a Panorama entitled ‘The Year Britain’s Bubble Burst’. Unless we’re referring to some BBC economics editor shaped bubble that burst the minute Evan Davis took a sabbatical.

Ah, a moment to morn the loss of Davis, aka Morph.

Morph... and Davis

But let’s not be too sad – there are some good things about having Peston on the BBC despite his hijacking of Panorama. Never before, for instance, has it been so easy to do an accurate impersonation simply by holding one’s nose.

Apologies galore: Osborne, the BBC and a cheeky bit of Beautiful South.

And we all thought I wanted to be a journalist? Pah! When I grow up I want to be in MI6. Just like those on Spooks, innit.

Anyway, where was I? It’s apologies galore in the media right now. Take BBC homepage’s page lead (if that’s what it’s called on the new fangled interweb): I made a mistake, admits Osborne followed swiftly by: BBC apologies for Brand prank.

(Can we take a minute to revel in the fact that BBC News is now such an integral news source that it has to report on its own apologies because if it failed to do so, the omission would have us cringing even more than we do when we read the inclusion. Ho ho ho.)

Now, when my brother and I were naughty as kids we would say sorry. But rarely did our parents accept our apology. Oh no. They would tell us we “didn’t mean it”. At the time, we marvelled at this response. How the hell did they know? I now see it’s because they knew that we were only apologising because we had to – we wanted chocolate/to go to the park/the play station back from Mum’s confiscation cupboard.

It annoys me that the public are expected to accept apologies – simply on the basis that they have been made. My parents were having none of it; why should I? Osborne has apologised because he flipping has to apologise. Without the apology he’d go down, quite possibly taking his party with him. If he values his career – and we safely assume he does – he had to apologise.

The BBC’s only other option was sacking Ross or Brand. Sacking Ross? Ha. And they can’t sack Brand because having Brand on their books means the BBC is like, well down wi’ da kidz man. Take Brand away and all you’ve got is Radio 4 listeners listening to everything else too. Yet again: the BBC had to apologise.

But we do not have to accept them. And, perhaps most importantly we should not end debates (be it about Tory sleaze or Brand sleeping with granddaughters) at the apology, which is quite obviously what the bodies involved want us to do. Should we all pretend that Osborne is good as gold (not Russian gold though!) and BBC producers aren’t as stupid as mud? No; apology or no apology, he isn’t, and they are.

Far too many people are big fans of chocolate, the park and PlayStations out there, don’t you know.

Toasty Two Hats: Guardian and BBC’s coverage of VP debate.

I assume I’m not the only person who feels like they’re sucking on a lemon when they hear Palin speak. I’ve heard the car-crash analogy before too, but I have issues with this because at least – if unfortunate enough to be watching a car crash – it has a finite end: the actual crash. Watching Palin is only like watching a car crash if, somehow, the cars transcend space-time and continually crash into each other, indefinitely.

Now I’m no big fan of sucking lemons; indeed there were plenty of other things I would rather have been doing last Friday morning, such as sleeping. So when the Palin/Biden debate was aired at the dreadfully convenient time of 2am (and yes, I do think Americans should get over a 5pm broadcast), I didn’t watch it.

Instead, I followed Oliver Burkeman’s excellent liveblogging of the debate on the Guardian website. This was a great improvement on watching the actual event as firstly, it involved absolutely no lemons at all (quite a feat with Palin involved), secondly, it told me when to drink (I’m sure you can guess, but it started to get messy after a few of Palin’s “maverick”s and “Joe Sixpack”s – I still am unsure as to what the latter even means), and thirdly, was actually really good coverage.

For some reason that I can’t put my finger on, I kept thinking it was written by a woman, but this is by the bye. Hats off to Burkeman for his heroic rescue of a potentially very bitter early morning listening to Palin answering questions by not answering questions.

Also, another hats off to the BBC website’s coverage of the very same event (I am apparently wearing two hats… toasty). Although I was a bit hesitant to put quite as much weight on their “experts” as they did, (Robert Shrum, Huffington Post; Michelle Malkin, etc etc), a definite highlight was the BBC’s “Fact Checker” – something I always mean to do, but never do do, which the BBC did for me and for which I am very grateful. Ch-ch-check it out.