I’ve just read in The Guardian a highly interesting and important article, particularly for us here in our NE Nest. It’s by Nathan Robinson and it’s entitled ‘Media bias is OK – if it’s honest.’
Here’s a taste of what he’s saying:
“It should be obvious that there can’t be such a thing as a neutral journalist. We all have moral instincts and points of view. Those points of view will color our interpretations of the facts. The best course of action is to acknowledge where we’re coming from. If we show an awareness of our own political leanings, it actually makes us more trustworthy than if we’re in denial about them.”
I call that refreshing and relevant. But I’ve a question: how often have you heard a journalist here say “I’m a left-wing journalist” or “I’m a right-wing journalist”, let alone “I’m a nationalist journalist” or “I’m a unionist journalist”? We know that the newspapers here are clearly biased towards one side or the other: The Irish News (hastily blesses himself) is a Catholic/nationalist (as distinct from republican) newspaper. The Newsletter is a Protestant/unionist newspaper. The Belfast Telegraph pretends to be non-partisan but is obviously unionist-inclined.
However, the non-print media are the most interesting in this matter. Yes, I’m talking about you, BBC. That institution lays claim to be balanced in all its reporting of events. In the clash between unionism and nationalism/republicanism, it would insist that it is “fair and balanced” in its reporting.
So answer me this: would you say the BBC throughout the Troubles was fair and balanced in its reporting? Did the BBC here question any of the killings done by the British army? Did the BBC examine the claims of those who said that collusion was happening throughout the Troubles? Or did the balanced BBC silence the voices of anyone connected to Sinn Féin?
The fact is, the letters BBC stand for British Broadcasting Corporation. Yet this British institution claims to be impartial in reporting the politics here, even though said politics is broadly a clash between those who claim to be British and those who reject the tag of Britishness and insist that they’re Irish. So here’s a question: which side do you think the British Broadcasting Corporation is more likely to lean towards in this clash?
Nathan Robinson, like myself and many others, accepts that we all come at events from a particular angle. The thing about the BBC is that it refuses to admit its bias. And let anyone so much as hint that a BBC presenter has unionist leanings, they’ll get a phone-call threatening them (in the nicest possible way) with legal action. And of course, if a unionist pressure group dislikes a particular contributor, all that’s really needed is a meet-up with the BBC bosses and that’s the voice of said contributor silenced.
Nobody is really campaigning for the BBC to be impartial – its very title tells you that’s impossible. All that’s asked, as Nathan Robinson says, is that bias is openly admitted.