, by, not surprisingly, given its modest name, Biased BBC commenter and sometime BBC employee, Nick Reynolds.
It’s not Nick’s first blog though. He has been blogging for a while within the Berlin Firewall that protects the denizens of the People’s Democratic Republic of Shepherd’s Bush from the reality of life, commonsense and popular opinion in modern Britain. Though perestroika is underway in the PDRofSB, glasnost is yet to arrive – we’re only to see “stuff from my internal blog which is OK to be shared with the wider world”. Still, having seen some of Nick’s ‘internal’ posts, he’s probably acting in everyone’s best interest!
Nick’s first big post, My ‘Friends’ At Biased BBC, is from the current issue of Pravda, known to BBC employees as Ariel – the BBC’s in house magazine – where it was published under the heading Don’t Dismiss Biased BBC, Join The Conversation Instead.
Nick writes that:
…there I was, sitting there, writing some guidelines on personal blogs, and thinking “I’d better find out more about this blogging thing.
I fired up Google blog search and searched for “BBC”. To my surprise I saw right at the top of the page a link to something called “Biased BBC”. My surprise turned to alarm as I clicked on to a purple and white web page filled with anti-BBC invective and examples of so-called “bias”. I remember saying to my colleagues “Have you seen this?”
Shocking! There is a world outside the BBC! And some of it doesn’t like us! My goodness, next we’ll have conscientious objectors refusing to pay the tellytax, being rounded up and dealt with by KGBBC goons just for possessing equipment capable of being used for receiving non-BBC approved broadcasts!
But alas, Nick hasn’t yet seen through the BBC entirely:
But in two years there’s only been one piece of BBC content highlighted by Biased BBC where I thought there was a real problem. There have been three or four where I have thought they might have half a point. But these have been sloppy journalism or poor phrasing, not bias. Considering the huge amount of web pages and other content that the BBC publishes, and that we’re human beings who sometimes make mistakes, not a bad record. Biased BBC proves its opposite; the BBC is not biased.
We live in hope for Nick though! However, ever a keen Beeboid (I put that in just for your credibility Nick), Nick knows a good thing when he sees it. Although he doesn’t agree with Biased BBC, he seems quite taken with the Biased BBC approach. I expect we’ll be receving a takeover o
rdffer, otherwise known as an ‘annexation’, just as soon as the BBC Borg has finished digesting its latest victim, Lonely Planet. (It is of course wrong to say that Lonely Planet is a victim – the real victims will be Lonely Planet’s erstwhile competitors).
Biased BBC denizens David Gregory and the pseudonymous ‘John Reith’ are both namechecked too. Nick says that ‘John Reith’:
…does fantastic work, debating and rebutting, with humour and occasionally acerbic comment. I’m still trying to work out who he is. He’s an ambassador for the BBC, a real champion. Yet he must feel that if he uses his real name he will get in trouble. It’s a terrible indictment of the BBC’s culture that someone supporting the organisation so well can’t use their real name.
…and there was me thinking that John Reith’s anonymity was to protect him from his fellow Biased BBC readers, tired of the careful selectivity of his arguments and his disappearances when the BBC is caught red-handed. I should have realised: ‘John Reith’ is a true Beeboid – like the frightened Russian of jokes past, so wary of his suspicious comrades that, when asked what he thinks of Comrade Thompson, he leads his questioner all across the city, rows out into the middle of a big lake, where, absolutely safe from listening ears, he whispers his confession: “I like him…”!
Martin Belam, a former (and I expect future) BBC employee, who has blogged about Biased BBC at length before, has blogged about Nick’s Pravda piece too, Biased BBC blog in the BBC’s Ariel newspaper, complete with a stylish photo of Nick’s Pravda article – showing a drawing of a resident of the Biased BBC bunker being tapped on the shoulder by the BBC Big Brother.
Like Nick, Martin takes the view that:
I don’t often agree with what I read on [Biased BBC], but I do agree with Nick that they… turn up examples of ‘sloppy journalism’ and ‘poor phrasing’, rather than evidence of a concerted top-down pre-planned slant on everything the BBC produces.
…which isn’t so far from my own view – as with the Jeff Randall quote in our sidebar, the BBC isn’t a grand conspiracy – it’s an unaccountable public sector organisation, bloated by years of government largesse, with many staff of a public sector mien quite inimical to the benefits of free-market competition among other things. We make no claim that Biased BBC is solely about BBC bias – far from it. There’s plenty of scope for exposing ‘sloppy journalism’, ‘poor phrasing’ and a range of other BBC issues, including BBC waste, incompetence, stupidity, ignorance and so on, including, every now and again, mention of some the BBC’s good points too.
P.S. Wikipedia has a scan of Ariel from 07NOV2006, complete with a sub-head that reads:
When it pays to fight for the right to know, page 4
I bet that article wasn’t about the Balen Report, which for some strange reason the BBC remains ever so keen to hide from the tellytaxpayers who pay for the BBC and who’ve paid for the BBC’s expensive lawyers to keep it hidden.