Thursday, July 19, 2007

Keep off the grass

I was going to spend the day's end linking to all the Auntie-bashing in the tabs, but really, life is too short.

I think we know what they'll all be saying, and then doing exactly the same on their own pages tomorrow.

So I figured I'd share this instead, which I noticed as I walked the boys home today.

I'm guessing that Woolies haven't quite got their heads round greenwashing as a dark art quite yet. Refreshing honesty, though.

Yee-haa! Blast that lawn with the best the labs can brew up!

Google Bads

As it's 'in vogue', I will apologise unreservedly for something unacceptable.

What might make me a tad different to a few others who one might mention, is that I will try and sort this out for real.

I can't fire anyone. And I can't withhold my business (well I could, I guess, but I think trying to sort it out may be the best solution as they are free, and the only game in town).

However, I am going to try and track a person in Google Ads and ask them to stop allowing ads for things that really are not appropriate going on my site.

It's a long shot, and does highlight a problem, not just for me, but the mighty Google.

Because these puppies are automated, and it looks like a few greenwashing corporates have figured out that adding a key phrase or two on your sadder than sad message does get you places who would not ordinarily open their door to you.

Smart sods. But we will foil your plan! Hahahaha... manically.

Yours in sorrow...

FIRST STAB: I new this wouldn't be easy. So far all I have found is a help link that takes me to a Forum

My blog is on my site, and both have ads placed by AdSense.

Now I know that these things are (have to be) automated), but I just got - rightly - ribbed for an ad sitting atop my environmental site blog, from ExxonMobile.

I guess it is because they were/are claiming that they are helping the environment... er... somehow, but really.

Who the heck do I get in touch with to discuss filtering such guff out.

And, frankly, if major greenwashing corporates can circumvent the system this easily, then Google needs to up its vetting game.

What next? Porn ads in kids' sites simply by adding the word 'toys' to their tags?


Hey the system works! A most useful reply already. On the case.

Door show


Look... there... a framed orifice through which you can pass from one place to another.

Apparently, from now on, if anyone in the BBC does something 'naughty' (my flip word for a broad tranche of policy, journalistic and editorial 'lapses'), they will be 'shown the door'.

So says an evidently irritated DG, Mark Thompson, who looks like he has much better things to do than deal with the public's views on his outfit. Apparently this is how trust will be regained. A fair task, given what's in this blog and the papers today. And will putting staff on a course (I presume at the licence payers expense) resolve this... I doubt it. And truly resent wasting such funds on a mop up which is more of a backside covering effort of tissuelike thinness than anything tangible. As are allusions to compensation. Using what mechanisms? What money? From where? To whom?

However, in the spirit of 'moving on', which is the phrase du jour of all senior (and, in the old days, responsible/accountable) executives/pols, it looks like this will be the latest free pass bestowed on all complicit in misleading the viewing public. And if that is the case again, why on earth should anyone trust anything said or done in the future.

While charitable financial dodginess is bad enough, I can't help but note that we have also moved from what in many ways I see as a much more critical issue to address, and that is the notion, which seems endemic and to pervade every level of the organisation, that reality and truth are entirely adjustable to improve ratin... er... the story.

In a cosy fire side chat with the boss, some quite remarkable things are covered and, essentially, dismissed.

I think I heard the word unacceptable several times. It becomes rather meaningless if in the same breaths it becomes pretty clear a lot has been and is accepted.

Short term contracts and pressure/ may be reasons, but they are not excuses. And while they can be responsible for a lot of things, they can surely not be held accountable for swapping critical chronologies in news items to 'enhance reality'... in the name of what? It is only now that I find out that reordering is 'not good practice'. It blooming well is a darn site more than that if it changes meaning, or has the DG not read the posts on this blog on the matter.

So there is a duty to have an 'eye to the culture'. Do what? And, er, only now? And an 'eye' will really sort it, for sure.

Great play was also made of how open 'they' are all being now. You know, if George Washington was not found standing next to that felled tree with an axe, one wonders just how open he would have been if not challenged. It's all being treated as a bit of a one off that will blow over, which of course it will.

We get the obligatory resignation question, with the standard 'best for the person who got us in this situation to dig us out of it and prevent future repeats' reply, which worked so well for Charles Clarke.

If these things happen, and they are not for 'personal gain', why do it? Of course it is for personal gain, because you gain personally from the salary and status of your career. And to progress that means satisfying the demands of your job, which means your superiors. It's hardly anything to do with training or lack of it... it is policy. Yet again we are seeing those at the sharp end being used as a buffer and deflection from those above who are really responsible and should be accountable, and then 'sacrificed' (and then pardoned) with a 'jolly good telling to' on an internal basis.

This is not a one off. It has been a whole series, and in a short time. And nothing I have heard or seen leads me to suspect that anything has or will be done beyond short-term damage limitation.

And that's all we have time for. Moving on...

Trust? Don't talk to me about trust.

Indy - BBC reveals further cases of fake phone-ins -
Indy - When broadcasters become the news

There will be more, I'm sure...

BBC - BBC boss backed in phone scandal - Well, there's a shock
Creative Match - BBC confess to 'disrespecting the audience' in phone in scam

What worries me as much, is how the 'issue' has now moved onto the equally (if not legally/financially even more) significant area of phone-ins, but we have 'moved on' (key phrase of any senior exec trying to protect tushie) from the fact that a) the truth is out there... waaaaaay out there... and b) the odd notion that there's no much wrong with a little 'enhanced reality (ie: outright fabrication) between feral fiends of the media and the public in this new Big Brother short-contract, high pressure, yoof-media 'professional' age.

I used to, only half-jokingly, write that something I read was on the BBC 'so it must be true'. Oh, the irony.

Gaurdian - Comic Relief among shows that deceived BBC viewers
Gaurdian - Trust angry over charity appeal lies
Guardian - Ofcom gets tough and says broadcasters are in denial - ya think???!
Guardian - Newsdesk notes for Thursday July 19
Guardian - Does the BBC deserve its public "shaming"?
Guardian - Don't believe all you see on TV - I think they'r ekeen on this!

I couldn't face the Tabs and Tories, as I rather suspect they will be a tad to the right of my own thinking only with a slight whiff of 'holier than thou'.

Indy - In defence of the BBC - Well it does need it a bit. Plus several side bar links worth scoping

I find this telling, though: Harriet Harman, Labour's deputy leader, resisted calls from Conservative MPs for the Government to intervene. She told the House of Commons: "It is of course important they have the trust of all their viewers but this is not just an issue for the BBC but across all broadcasters."

I felt moved to write under the heading 'Apples. Oranges. And Lemons':

Excuse me? Harriet Harman says "It is of course important they have the trust of all their viewers but this is not just an issue for the BBC but across all broadcasters."

Our local plod have tried to excuse their inability to properly police crime by pointing out resources are tight and anyway it is a lot worse elsewhere. That's like me trying to get off a speeding conviction by saying other folk are going faster.

And one small, additional, point. Who pays... er, gets forced to pay for the BBC?

Guardian - When they stop calling - Positively Clintonian. It's 'enhancing' the truth; not lying.
Guardian - So the BBC is a subversive leftwing conspiracy? You could have fooled me

As is too often the case, we seem to be being presented a rather stark 'either/or' here.

As has been pointed out, certain distractions, now followed by near apocalyptic warnings, have rather managed to drown out the fact that some people up the executive chain in the BBC decided that telling the truth needed some enhancement. In short, portraying some things as real that were not. Which is, apparently, different to lying. Just like taking money under false pretences now seems not to be fraud.

And, in so doing, using whose money?

What I'm seeing is an attempt to blow this out of all proportion to arrange a major puff of smoke, around which mirrors will be rearranged, things will 'move on' and nothing will actually change.

Until the next time.

Maybe, just maybe, we nail down who did what, and if it was wrong hold them properly accountable?

Marketing Week - The commercial uses of BBC abuses
- a worthy analysis of who should really be looked at more thoroughly in all this.