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November 07, 2017


Patrick Kirk

In 1992, we were all doomed because leaving the ERM would destroy Britain. In 1997, the CBI assured us the minimum wage would destroy the UK's industrial base. In 2003, it was a matter of necessity to invade Iraq.

Perhaps acrobatic journalism, the endless search for balance, is a simple acknowledgement that life is complex, there is no certainty and seeing 2 contrary opinions will at least help clarify your own thinking.

mike berry

Obviously media professionals tend to drawn from the same class as the politicians they are supposed to be holding to account. They went to same schools, attended the same universities, even at times dated the same people. They by and large share the same core views on how the economy should be run and who are the people with all the answers.

But there is also something else that you've missed and that is, it is much safer to be a acrobat than to be a scientist in journalism - particularly at the BBC.

To be a scientist may involve telling someone very powerful they are talking bunk. That can be a very dangerous thing to do as the BBC has found on many occasions.

Instead journalists practice what the journalism scholar Gaye Tuchman referred to as 'objectivity as a strategic ritual' in a classic paper from 1972.

Quoting respected sources whilst avoiding controversy is usually the safest option.

Owen Paine

For once I can back a blog post here completely

I guess analytic and dialectical Marxists can agree on rare occasions
And on marginal points of interest

Gods speed mate


JGCs are morally indistinguishable from the people on the Jeremy Kyle show: they just have better teeth.

Classic. Time for dental implants on the NHS!


I think you're right about the idiotic deference of many journalists at the BBC and beyond.

But I think it's worse than just this. The BBC's 'balance' is more importantly a function of deep existential fear. Either 'side' of a debate might win (an election, or Brexit, or whatever), and the BBC's continued existence depends on the continued support of winning side. It cannot upset any potential paymaster.

As with other media outlets the dependency relationship corrupts any pretense of objectivity.


«the BBC's continued existence depends on the continued support of winning side.»

The BBC knows well that the Conservatives have said many times that a "communist leaning" BBC would be deprived of the license fee and privatized, and Labour have never said anything like that. It is not symmetrical.

But then I disagree with much of the post: the BBC Wykehamhists are not stupid, and don't play "acrobatic journalism" because too scrupulous about balance, but I would guess because they know well how that gives big exposure and a megaphone to some views that otherwise would not get much.
Consider the regular press review: the BBC Wykehamists surely realize that it is an effect an amplification of the reach of the right-wing and far-right press.
Also the typical Wykehamist is absolutely a "jolly good chap" who can be "trusted to do the decent thing", *for other Wykehamists*, as the plebs don't matter.

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