Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Nicola Roberts and tanning

A minor snippet from BBC Breakfast this morning where they said they'd be talking to Nicola Roberts "of Girls Aloud" about an investigation into tanning she did for the BBC, because who'd care about Nicola Roberts investigative reporter?

Anyway this was at 7 o'clock, so when are you talking to her? Not saying. Okay when is the report on? Not saying. Well I suppose it's sometime tonight as that seems to be the pattern and that's what you did yesterday with the Richard Dimbleby lectures. Nope it's on Thursday, I happen to know this as scanning the Radio Times it caught my eye what with me being pale and interesting too.

So at half seven again they repeat the information but this time up pops a flash with "Coming 9.00am"; oh that's useful when the majority of the country aren't about. Yep a report about tanning, tanning salons, the dangers etc. that's certainly not as important as say a story about someone keeping 24 crocodiles in their basement; now that story deserves a full five minute report every half an hour.

I weep.


Orphi said...

A lot of people seem to have this strange idea that the purpose of the media — the TV reporters, newspaper journalists, radio correspondents and so forth — is to keep the public informed on what's going on in the world and to provide factual and accurate information about current events.

Hell, I used to think this!

But of course, that's all nonesense. The media actually exists to make money. And what's important is not well-correlated with what's profitable. Hell, what's true isn't well-correlated with what's profitable!

Behold the endless series of health scares based on little to no evidence and fanned into a full-scale panic to sell more newspapers. Behold the unending gossip and hear-say about various “celebraty” figures, again largely based on thin air. Behold the sensational scandals of the people in power. (OK that one might have some truth to it.)

These people are not there to keep is informed. They're there to keep us handing over money for stories that pander to our preconceived notions of what the world is like.

…which would be OK, except that these people try to pretend that they're presenting the facts, with some degree of accuracy.

Is there any law that says the media have to present facts accurately? Is there any law that says they have to present information that's important? Hell, is there even any law that says they can't lie about events, or outright fabricate them?

Your exposé on the dangers of tanning is probably on at that time because that's when all the rich housewives who like gossip are home to watch dayline TV.

FlipC said...

"Is there any law that says the media have to present facts accurately?" No.

But let's say I'm a scientist and come out with "Butter is no more harmful than margarine" and this was quoted in a paper as "Scientist states butter 'more harmful than margarine'" I could take that to the Press Complaints Commission, that is the media-run PCC and they could force the paper to run a tiny little box saying how they'd got it wrong.

However if it was another scientist that was misquoted my complaint wouldn't be upheld because it wasn't me that was the subject.

So in that respect you can't complain about inaccuracies unless you're the subject of them.

As for the timing of the interview; a lot of this is aimed at the young so you want them before they go to school and besides it's a member of Girls Aloud which is inherently set to appeal to an audience that's just set off for school.

I suppose this is also why the programme is being buried on BBC3 at 9pm or some such; to aim at the core audience hah!

Orphi said...

So if some paper starts spreading rumous that a person or persons unknown have started killing young girls in London who happen to be wearing bright green clothing, then because the report isn't about any specific person, nobody can actually dispute the fact that it's a complete fabrication?

For that matter, even if you can prove the papers lied, all you get is a tiny notice printed that nobody will ever read.

Talk about a menace to society! :-P

FlipC said...

Other than the damage to their reputation if they're caught that's pretty much it.

The government could step in if said rumours were causing a general panic a "Crime against public order" and in theory if you could prove that they knew that the 'news' they reported was false you have a breach of implied contract (you bought the paper expecting truth). But that's about it.