Tag Archives: media

On John Wetton, And Pop Culture Death


On The Independent

The late, great journalist James Cameron once likened the death of a national newspaper to the demise of an elephant. The stricken beast would sink to its knees, then onto its side, and the others in the herd would gather around to offer what succour they could, and then gradually drift away, realising that nothing could be done.

The Independent and its Sunday sister look like being the latest in the herd to succumb. I am not sure if a paper that can only persuade 40,000 people to hand over the full price each day can be seen as a national contender. But it was born three decades ago amid great idealism with the intention of providing readers with a viewpoint they could not get elsewhere.

An example: a royal wedding was once reported something like this: Traffic in central London was disrupted yesterday by the wedding of Captain Mark Phillips and Anne Windsor.

I interviewed there once. Though I didn’t get the job, it led, indirectly, to my current one. And the Indie was responsible for one of my favourite corrections ever. It appeared one February, and it ran, and again I paraphrase: Some readers have asked us to point out that the tree pictured in last week’s story about global warming is a winter-flowering cherry.

You can almost hear the teeth grinding in the newsroom as they were forced to put that one out.

On The BBC

Hardly a day goes by without me shouting at the radio. This is not a particularly rational way of behaving, because whichever speaker you are shouting at can’t hear you. But I do it anyway.

The culprit is generally the Today programme on R4, which acts as a backdrop to the first hour or more of my day. There is something peculiarly infuriating about the queue of middle-class professionals explaining how austerity should not apply to their own profession.

How the only solution to this often manufactured “problem” is that “the government” – never you and me – must devote more “resources” to it. Teachers, lawyers, social workers – all are convinced there is a bottomless pile of cash that can be deployed immediately.

Then there are the wowsers. The ones who want to stop you doing something because it might be bad for you. There was an irritating women the other day who wanted the soft drinks I buy for my kids to be made more expensive, in case someone else’s consume too much of them.

All these arguments go largely without challenge, especially from the less able presenters. (No names.) No one says, but hang on, we’re have four people on already today demanding more cash. Any government has to prioritise, especially today, don’t they?. And there seems to be a hard core of these special pleaders who appear all the time.

Now the Government wants to take on the BBC. I agree it is iniquitous that the license fee, a mandatory tax, should have been used to spend hundreds of millions developing a free news website that provides unfair competition to commercial organisations like my own that have to operate in the free market. I am not sure of the point of Radio 1.  Too much of the BBC’s output is meretricious trash that is no better than that churned out by the other channels.

Yet there is a suggestion that there needs to be a review of the BBC’s impartiality, or lack of it. At its worst, and the idea seems to have been watered down, some bunch of the great and the good may end up deciding over the political approach the state broadcaster should be allowed to take. This is hugely dangerous. State control of the news media has not tended to have been a good idea in the past, to say the least.

You could end up with a BBC whose political stance swung back and forwards with whatever administration was in power. Dangerous stuff, given the temptation to use that control to remain in power.

The BBC is irritating. The same smug liberal mindset does indeed permeate the place – I know plenty of people who work there. There are far too many of them. Still, stick with the devil you now, for fear of much worse.