Thursday, July 12, 2007

Edit, or?

This from Newsday, or is it night (it seems they can now be one in the same)? The Queen and the BBC

Not long ago I had a pathetic, insincere, form (I have had others that are lifted from the same template - sorry for the delay, we know it's important, we've had a check, so we screwed up, so what, yadayada...) 'apology' from the BBC following a complaint about a piece where what I had written got 'edited' to make it the exact reverse of what I said.

Having just had a complaint to OFCOM about an edit that featured me and my company - which turned black into white - upheld, SKY has replied in its defence to the effect that because it was only a few seconds long it doesn't matter (so showing Fidel Castro on the Grassy Knoll would be fine), and in any case it would set 'a bad precedent' for reality TV shows to accurately represent, er, reality. Astounding.

And to show this extends to every level of our current media, this is the Editor's full reply in my local paper to a letter from a reader (rightly) complaining that they edited his letter to completely change its meaning: 'Apologies to... It is not our normal practice to alter the sense of letters.'

Well all I can say is that it seems to be a pretty prevalent, abnormal practice nowadays across the whole sorry industry (even news, apparently), and getting more and more frequent as ever more sad ways are sought to drive up ratings through 'enhancing' actuality. Bear in mind that when they say 'Tell us what you think..' and you do so, that what they say you think may end up a very different version in this edit-obsessed, unaccountable, fake media age.

And now, on top of Blue Peter, etc, we have this.

I created a while ago a category on my blog called tushtissue. It refers to the gobsmacking front to try and weasel out of the fact that you were caught with your pants down. More appropriately, with them round your ankles deliberately trying to score a cheap rating, or political point, or column inch by conveying something totally untrue. And then denying it.

So, who would like to take a bet that no one, anywhere, will be found to carry the can, or bear the consequences? A myriad fingers will point in every direction, and the whole thing will get lost in the 'What's?'.

It's a sad, sad state we are in. Thanks Tony. Thanks Gordon. Thanks BBC. Thanks Fleet Street. Thanks every miserable overpaid 'senior executive' out there who laps the cream but will never shoulder the pain - of their own sorry actions.

I am sure we can look forward to a bumper edition of Newswatch, where all three of those up at dawn at the weekend can review the arrogant troupe of executive 'mea not blooming culpas' for whopping abuses of editorial standards broadcast to millions during prime time, fobbing off Uncle Ray during his cozy file-size chat with the usual 'it wasn't me, or if it was it wasn't that bad, or if it was it didn't matter, or if it does who cares?'

BBC Trust? Interesting, oxymoronic choice of words.

You cannot lie and expect to get away with it. Repeat. You should not be able to lie and get away with it. Repeat. You can lie and get away with it.

Now that's what I call editing.

Daily Mail - BBC's grovelling apology to Queen over 'tantrum' film - Well, they had to, really. It's the DM, after all. And read the comments. Not one cares about the changing of facts.

Times - Crisis of trust after BBC says sorry again - And sorry seems to be the easiest word...

I'm sure there 'll be more...

Guardian - Fincham: I'm staying put - there's a surprise: BBC exec not going to accept consequences shock. Plus the footage. Sweet. And not a thing ... yet... in CiF

Indy - Now we are really not amused: BBC forced to apologise for claiming Queen had a tantrum - Which would be, let's see... an outright lie? No, we really should leave it be and move on now.

Telegraph - Should the controller of BBC1 step down over the Queen gaffe?

Telegraph - Trust, the BBC and the Queen

BBC Newsnight - Putting things in order - the first (very well articulated) comment says it all.
Me, I'm a gobby sod:

Post 1 from Mike S clearly, factually and with great eloquence, pretty much answers your end question, I'd say.

That a viewer who was a live part of this 'process' feels this way I'd hazard shows the meaning was a bit more than 'remotely' affected by the dis-order.

Nice try.

'Maintaining standards of honesty, accuracy and fairness throw up various dilemmas which programme editors have to grapple with on a daily basis.'

But in maintaining those standards, grappling with the ethics of using the edit suite to alter a meaning really shouldn't be the greatest dilemma, now, should it?

Nice try.

'...claiming the chronology of two events were out of sequence and as such misrepresented the events.'

Is it really accurate to call it a claim if, in fact, this is/was precisely the case?

Nice try.

'However unlike the incident with the footage of the Queen, whichever order the events had been shown the meaning would remain the same.'

Um, or not. See above.

Nice try.

Glad for all concerned that at least it 'didn’t breach any of the BBC’s producer guidelines.' Wouldn't want to breach a guideline in doing an ethical, professional, honest job, now would we?

Not sure, having read this, whether some viewers' trust factors in the BBC or its news operatives' standards will have improved, though.

And this is such a shame. And makes the point. Having now watched the story, without that Achilles Heel (which was so subtle I honestly had trouble appreciating it), it was a telling piece for all the other 'imagery', if not facts conveyed.

I really don't know what to believe, so maybe it's best to believe none of it. Which is a pity, as black-suited press munchkins and jobsworth plods creating a wall of silence around our shy leader (as opposed to an opposition version who has amazing spontaneous total recall of relative camera sizes) does come across as a worry. None of it seemed real. And surely, as press with greater access (as alluded to, a form of editing in its own right) than the public will ever enjoy, it is for you to cut through all this spin and give us the clear, unvarnished truth.

In the 'war games' that rather bizarrely seem to exist - if only for the entertainment of those who play them - between accredited press and our elected representatives, in theory conducted on 'our' behalf to inform and allow us to form views we can carry to the polling booth, this is more than a worry.

BBC Breakfast 14/07

I just watched your comment piece on the BBC 'Queen' edit.

At risk of finding my comments here edited, I have to take issue with some of the things said.

It is astounding that any justification could be spun out of the culture of reality shows being 'known' to be... er... not real. And that this is accepted by the chattering classes is a real worry.

Fiction is fiction. Reality is reality. There are no blurred boundaries, from 'entertainment' to hard news. No exceptions.

I have an upheld complaint with OFCOM underway based on this very point.

GUARDIAN - BBC orders inquiry as pressure mounts
Cif - Don't believe everything you see - some amazing stuff about the Blue Peter issue I didn't know before. The rest of the posts show all that's wrong with blogging.
Indy - Pressure on BBC1 chief mounts over Queen slur
Times - BBC chief knew Queen footage was misleading 17 hours before apology
Telegraph - Behaving badly... the BBC and Fincham
Telegraph - Fincham should stay

Bag, bag, you're dead!

I like an industry magazine called Recycling & Waste World, and have been meaning to write in for a while. At last I have, following an editorial on plastic carrier bags.

The IPPC report barely makes a page, let alone a few broadsheet fronts, before being dropped in favour of the latest BB antics. The concert for Diana gets three times the audience of Live Earth. Nice to see we have our priorities firmly figured out. Speaking of which, witches' kickers yet again seem to be rearing their heads. No doubt inspired by Newsnight's investigation earlier in the week as to bottled water in restaurants contributing to global warming (quaffing airflown food or imported beer or wine, or simply going out to eat didn't seem to figure in the discussion), only yesterday we had an expose on BBC Breakfast of the shifty shifting habits of home delivery supermarket services. Actually it was pretty shocking, especially one chain managing to use 15 where 3 would have done, but at least we got a two-for-one deal on talking heads to explain it was being looked at... now this issue has been brought to their attention. Being such a recent thing 'n all. I await the green TVC claims to wash o'er the airwaves in due course.

Anyway, may I use these pages to ask a question of those more than able to answer. Apparently, 'we' use 290 of things annually. And with all sorts of other options available, as the editorial pointed out, that really cannot be good, or make much sense, at least environmentally. But is this really the most pressing issue we face when compared to, say, deforestation (more C02 sink lost than the USA emits in a year), or home insulation (what is it? 25% of our consumption of energy)? I was just wondering what this amount of plastic actually represented as a block, especially when most surely does get reused as bags, as a substitute for bin liners or recycled in store bins? In, say, 2L Evian bottle terms? Or 500ml sun lotion jars.

I don't know, and hence that why I ask. Because I simply wonder if all this effort, from political to corporate to media levels, is the best place to direct various energies, especially when it demands so much of consumers' attention, and diverts it from, how to put it, areas with perhaps a more significant enviROI (imposition on the planet, which can still be positive even if financially the ROI is negative. A noble call to make).

Big up to
IKEA, for 'taking the plunge' I guess, and I'm sure they will assess the customer reaction as it transpires, but I really hope that such efforts, and the usually immense PR and ad cost thrown behind them (which may often be a tad more usefully invested elsewhere if the planet is the actual priority) are matched equally in areas that may produce more, and more significant results.

Your point on the actual facts of bio/
compostables are well taken (a degradable bag will not do too well in your composter), vital for the consumer to be aware of and, to this one at least, almost a complete mystery still. That is woeful. On the part of all who would claim to be concerned. There's no point asking for an eco-pack/bag, or using it, if you don't know much more than it is 'green-ish',. Where it comes from and where it goes to is a critical part of the decision chain, one which the consumer is too often being dumped with handling.

The 'bag for life' story you highlight typifies the process vs. product mentality too many 'in the know' are complicit in propagating, mainly because this often means more sales or awareness boxes being ticked, even if the planet is no better off, much less the poor sap who thinks they are helping. And when 'exposed', as was the infamous version you highlight Anya Hindmarch's 'I'm not a plastic bag', imported from Asia), the backfire, and 'average' consumer's reaction to it of 'well if a bunch of rich folk are going to play silly, then why should I bother?' often makes it all simply more difficult to persuade with genuine initiatives.

Like you say, wherever possible bring your own, because if it's not always possible to remove or reduce then reuse. I reckon that's the way. But then I would, wouldn't I?

Daily Mail - The £5 a bottle mineral water - from a cloud in the South Seas - the other side of the coin

How much petrol does the USA consume each day?

OK, so we all think ...... a lot, its probably the largest single consumer on the planet as far as nations go.

So how about as much as South Korea, South Africa, Taiwan, Spain, Venezuela, India, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Brazil combined?

Nope, nowhere near.

So what if we also add the consumption of France, Australia, Iran and Italy?

Nope, still nowhere near.

OK, so if we also add Britain, Mexico, Germany and Russia into the equation, we must be getting close?

Nope! Even if you add and Canada, China and Japan into the equation, you still don't get a cumulative figure that reaches the daily gas (petrol) consumption of the USA.

They say a picture paints a thousand words - but this is simply a jaw-dropper. Take a look at the graphic from Treehugger.

Gob-smacking!! As someone who invariably has an opinion on just about anything, as far as this goes I'm, well ......... simply speechless!!