When I was younger, in my fifties now, I often read letters in newspapers or noticed discussions on TV about “the dumbing down” of news and information offered to the public. It’s not till now I realise just what that means, back then it was mainly about using the correct English. I’m tempted to say you can see how far this has fallen by the fact I am now able to answer the odd question on University Challenge.
But in fact, it’s worse than that. Things that claim to be one thing are now churning out something almost totally different. For example, people just being people in front of cameras is now seen as entertainment, even to the extent that people watching TV is seen as great entertainment. It’s an odd world where ballroom dancing can die 1000 deaths of boredom and then be resurrected simply be replacing one professional dancing partner for a person who once had the luck to walk past a TV camera while it was on (today’s celeb).
All that is all well and good and at worst a bit of fun but when this creaking dumbness comes a calling at our serious information broadcasting we really should take note. News and politics are there to inform and by informing has to influence. I’m afraid this has now been reversed, it influences far more then it informs. But in general, it’s looking for the wrong things.
Take the BBC Daily Politics show. This is broadcast about 6 days a week and if you happen to fall on it once a week you might learn about what’s happening in politics. If you drop in two or three times a week you might learn who said what about who that week, may even leaner what someone was saying ten years ago about someone and all these “someones” are more then likely someone you have never heard of before.
So what’s going on? it’s a politics show yet the economy is seldom mentioned unless it’s because some rate has changed. Seldom are any of the vast numbers of reports issued each week discuss or even mentioned. Politicians mostly come on the show to answer such questions as “Should he/she resign/apologise”
More recently they have been holding people to account for things they said in the past. I find this very hard on people considering “social opinion” changes over time. So you get someone said ‘Ghetto boy’ in 2010 and they are put on studio trial in 2017. How far are we going to take this, should we burn all the copies of Elvis Presley’s IN THE GHETTO? if so it doesn’t look good for Gangster Rap does it.
On on the subject of words that used to be common parlance – is it not ok to say Ghetto now? has it become the new N word? is the same true about snowflake?
What value is all this to a politics programme anyway ? does it really tell us anything about our politicians? if you are attracted to being a politician you most likely to be opinionated? and are not your opinions likely to be expressed vigorously at times, how about this one;
“I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place.”
Churchill – Accepted in 1937, no fuss, not condemned at all. It was a statement of its time in its time. Do you see Boris Johnson requesting Churchill be written out of history? of course, you don’t.
BBC knows this is not politics, but it fills the gap left behind when you filter out all the content the could be using but don’t. All the stuff we, the people on the street see everyone. The questions are why don’t they want to report our world? why are they coving issues more fit for gossip magazines?