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The Entitlement Illusion at the BBC? A guest blog.

This week we have a guest blog from therapist Gerald Payne, who did not board, but is honing his skills on our The Un-Making of Them training and alive to the inequalities in society promoted by this form of privileged abandonment. Gerald writes:

On the 24th May 2016 Sarah O’Connell, an experienced reporter, had an article published by Open Democracy entitled: “The BBC has lost touch: here’s how it could re-connect.”

In it she  lays down some examples of why the BBC has lost touch, with the ordinary people of this country. Below are  some of them, and I have highlighted the points that really connect for me about the Entitlement Illusion.

On the night of transmission of an investigation Sarah had conducted into bed and breakfast accommodation in 2012 she reveals:

“One of the programme’s staff producers came over and asked me ‘where did you come across this story?’ so I told him that I’d been visiting a young girl who was living in the hotel, and had seen her living conditions first hand. So I had begun to ask questions. His response was ‘that’s so unusual – to go into a story from the bottom up’, and that statement sent a small chill up my back. Because in so many ways this epitomises the problem with BBC journalism. It’s become ‘unusual’ for them to go into a story from the ‘bottom up‘.”

Recounting what it was like reporting on the MPs expenses scandal, she states:

“I pointed out that I knew of MPs who were essentially refurbishing their homes by using the ‘Additional Home Allowance’ and also that all shades of MPs were entertaining their friends and families at posh Westminster restaurants, eating lunches that cost over £150 sometimes, and then billing the taxpayer, via their expenses. I was told, ‘this isn’t a story, MPs have to eat’. But it was a story. It was one of the biggest political stories of the decade. And the BBC missed it, because, to most of their journalists at that time, the idea of having lunch for £150 on expenses, well, it just wasn’t a story, was it?

The atmosphere in a BBC news room provokes these comments:

“When you walk into a BBC newsroom you can see and hear the privilege. ”

“The truth is, not many national BBC news journalists see enough of life at the ‘bottom’ of society to report on it properly or accurately. If most of my colleagues at the BBC didn’t start life with a silver spoon in their mouths, by the time they’ve served ten years at the BBC (and the longevity and security of a BBC news staff job is recognised industry wide), they’ve pretty much gained honorary status of the establishment class.”

One reason she gives for why this happens is:

“The days of kids from the estates coming up through the local newspapers are long gone. Now, the route in is Oxford (or some other swanky university) and then to ask your mum’s friend who works there if there is any chance of a job. Over a third of BBC executives are ex-Oxford or Cambridge.”

Sarah does offer some solutions to this problem  but how does such an organisation filled with entitlement and privilege report on our “Wounded Leaders”?

Please go to the website to read the complete article, and for further reading see the Medialens website. Using Chomsky and Herman’s Propaganda model they write frequent critics of British media news coverage, including the BBC.

One comment

  1. I seem to remember a TV news item or documentary some years ago showing that when Swedish politicians travel they generally stay in the most modest Trust House Forte type of accommodation. Unless things have changed over there. Sweden did have a flirtation with private provision in health and education and I don’t believe it turned out too well. Maybe their politicians stay in Hilton type accommodation these days. Thatcherism gets everywhere.

    Comment by David Redshaw on 05/06/2016 at 5:29 pm

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