Tag Archives: journalism

The BBC won’t talk about religion

THE UK is becoming increasingly secular and culturally diverse, but the BBC continues to pursue a mostly Christian agendum.  Every morning, BBC Radio 4 starts with a prayer for the day, and during the Today programme, there’s a religious slot at about 12 minutes to eight called Thought for the Day.  The speakers are usually Christian clergy, although every so often, a Sikh, a Muslim or a Hindu or a Jew gets the slot.  There’s never an atheist, an agnostic and we haven’t heard a pagan yet.

Sundays are particularly tedious with a programme on religion between 7:10AM and a religious service kicking in on Radio 4 at 8:10 AM, forcing me to switch to the BBC World Service.

I decided to make use of the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) to see if BBC management could shed any light on the matter.  My request was declined because the BBC appears to believe that religious content is exempt from the FOI Act because it’s journalism, art or literature.

Here’s the text of its reply, below. 

————————————–>

Dear Mr Magee,
Freedom of Information request – RFI20151825

Thank you for your request to the BBC of 1st November 2015 seeking the following information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000: ‘Every Sunday, BBC Radio 4 seems to fill the airwaves with religious broadcasts, mostly of the Christian persuasion. I would like to ask the BBC why it feels the need to do this, specifically as this country is increasingly secularist and hardly anyone goes to the church on Sunday, if they even believe in the church. Is this a function of the BBC charter? And what’s the justification for doing thought for the day on BBC Radio 4 Today every weekday without including atheistic and agnostic ideas?  Thirdly, who picks the clergy to deliver thought for the day?’

The information you have requested is excluded from the Act because it is held for the purposes of ‘journalism, art or literature.’ The BBC is therefore not obliged to provide this information to you and will not be doing so on this occasion. Part VI of Schedule 1 to FOIA provides that information held by the BBC and the other public service broadcasters is only covered by the Act if it is held for ‘purposes other than those of journalism, art or literature”.

The BBC is not required to supply information held for the purposes of creating the BBC’s output or information that supports and is closely associated with these creative activities.1 The limited application of the Act to public service broadcasters was to protect freedom of expression and the rights of the media under Article 10 European Convention on Human Rights 1 For more information about how the Act applies to the BBC please see the enclosure which follows this letter. Please note that this guidance is not intended to be a comprehensive legal interpretation of how the Act applies to the BBC.

(“ECHR”). The BBC, as a media organisation, is under a duty to impart information and ideas on all matters of public interest and the importance of this function has been recognised by the European Court of Human Rights. Maintaining our editorial independence is a crucial factor in enabling the media to fulfil this function.

That said, the BBC makes a huge range of information available about our programmes and content on bbc.co.uk. We also proactively publish information covered by the Act on our publication scheme and regularly handle requests for information under the Act.

Appeal Rights
The BBC does not offer an internal review when the information requested is not covered by the Act. If you disagree with our decision you can appeal to the Information Commissioner. Contact details are: Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF telephone 01625 545 700. http://www.ico.org.uk Please note that should the Information Commissioner’s Office decide that the Act does cover this information, exemptions under the Act might then apply.

Yours sincerely,

Chris Burns Head of Group Operations BBC Radio

Now Google tells newspapers how to do biz

THE EVER-EGREGIOUS Google has been putting its oar into the newspaper business, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

Yeah, while all around us newspapers fall – yeah unto the IT Examiner and The News – CEO Eric Schmidt has been advising suits from newspapers how to do their business better.

Schmidt, according to the Journal, told the Newspaper Association of America that publishers need to create a new format for online journalism.

That, Schmidt reckons, means creating personalised content readers want to read.

It’s readers that newspapers should always keep in mind, of course, and  experienced journalists will produce copy and headlines that catch the eye, and taste good too.

Unfortunately, too many publishers think of their journalists as data gatherers, which is why so many journalists are being laid off all around the world, in a bid to reduce costs.

Online journalism is like any other journalism, Mr Schmidt. The overheads are much smaller than those of print journalism, but readers want hard hitting stuff, not regurgitated pap and crap. The Journal article is here – you will need a subscription.  ♦

Hardware man confesses: “I love the smell of a PCB”

IN CASE you ever wondered why some people spend all their active working lives reviewing motherboards and the like, we seem to have discovered the answer.

They’re addicted. Not addicted to the fabulous technology on a motherboard, oh no, but to the smell of a newly created mobo. A printed circuit board. A PCB.

According to an ubergeek journalist into this hardware stuff, he’s not the only one similarly addicted. “Lots of hardware journalists” have admitted to him they have a similar problem.

So all you need to do if you want to attract a hardware journo to your wares is to create a spray –  Eau de Mobo – apply it your product such as a fan, a heatsink, a capacitor or whatever, and you’re almost guaranteed a review. I need a drink.