Not Mid Morning Matters

JD in the Morning, off air…

Tag: Bbc

Polls apart

For the last six weeks I have honoured the BBC’s request of me to step aside from the daily ‘phone in show I love and present the afternoon show, which was great fun and I really, truly enjoyed. It reminded me that radio and broadcasting is to inform, educate and entertain and I thank the BBC for this.

I also took this chance to positively step away from all the news I could. I avoided reading the newspapers, blogs, magazines, linked articles, opinion pieces or listening to podcasts. I just listened to the local news when I was on air and other news when it came to me, rather than me actively looking for it. I haven’t watched a news programme in over 6 weeks apart from the election night coverage. In the last few days, minded I am going back to my topical news based radio show on Monday 18th May, I thought I should get ‘up to speed’ on things and start to cram. I need not have bothered. Hardly anything has really happened nationally or locally apart from a change of government that the media failed to see coming.

I have learnt a great deal this year about many things. Firstly, the real kindness of people in contrast to how foul and depraved others can be for no real reason other blind stupidity, misplaced loyalty or actual mental health issues that could happen to any one of us at any time. Secondly, there is a real contrast between reporting and actual journalism in our papers and in on our broadcast media. There is plenty of the former but very little of the later. Thirdly, the news really doesn’t change that much at all. You might like to think it does but, in reality, nothing much happens other than the constant reporting on reports.

Here is a prime example of this. According to one study by a leading University on how the general election was covered by the main broadcasters, over a third of the coverage was based on reporting the polls. Broadcasters reported how close the polls were and what would happen if the polls were the actual result. There were lots of talking heads about red lines, coalitions, compromises and so on. The press followed this too. Nobody asked the question ‘what if the polls are wrong?’. In contrast the NHS got less than 2.5% of TV news coverage and according to other polls the NHS was a key issue in the election. Were those polls wrong too? In the current post-mortem of the election with the Left is complaining the Right got biased coverage and vice versa, we should all be complaining that our news was dominated by polls and surveys but very little actual journalism.

Any journalist should ask questions, get answers and then question those answers, regardless of what he or she might actually think. Thinking is not knowing and when you hear or read the phrase ‘I think’ it should be a warning to us all. Reporters are not journalists and journalists should not be reporters. To report and not to question is not news. To have an agenda and report it is not news. If you want this then buy your daily newspaper of choice just to confirm you were right all along.

Here’s a thing to try. Buy a newspaper you don’t usually take and see how you feel once you’ve read it. Listen to and watch other sources of news. Find local bloggers writing about where you live. Go beyond the lazy reporting and ask questions of those who just rehash press releases or report what they have been given without asking a single question about it.

The biggest lesson I have learnt over the last six weeks is to question everything and believe me I will, starting now.

Islamic State and the state of social media

A British born jihadist beheads an American journalist in a self-declared Islamic State to affirm a caliphate by posting it on social media.

Those who use social media, and include myself in this, are wondering what these platforms are all about this week. The use of social media by Islamic State, IS as they are now called, is quite brilliant. Many companies and celebrities would love the attention and ‘penetration’ that IS are achieving in getting their message and methods out to the world. This is a world IS want to destroy or at the very least return to their 14th Century version of Islam. The juxtaposition of using the very apex of the 21st century communication to tell the world they are wrong and IS is right cannot be lost on them, or us.

This is the biggest issue with social media and, as has already been proven by the internet, social media is fast becoming out of control as it is being used for purposes unimagined and is now beyond the control of its creators. As fast as IS have an account closed they open another; its like a cyber version of wack-a-mole. Advocates of Twitter and Facebook, who are public companies with shareholders and business models and bottom lines to achieve, have been and are being duped. I include the BBC in this.

It would seem implausible that any BBC presenter, paid from the public purse on a network that does not advertise at all, would be allowed to say ”call me on your Blackberry or Apple mobile ‘phone, using your Vodafone provider or you can use your BT landline and your Currys ‘phone to make that call, or you can even use Royal Mail to write to me using your Parker pen and Basildon Bond paper”? They are all businesses looking for custom and profit, just like Facebook and Twitter yet social media is exempt.

Television viewers and radio listeners are regularly invited to tweet, post or like on Twitter and Facebook. It seems okay for everyone in the media to freely advertise social media providers, encourage their use, to create and enhance the platform of millions of connected users and, by endorsement, imply it’s a good thing.

Here is the reality from this weeks shocking news. A simple click of a link on social media can take you to a video of a kitten in an oversized wine glass looking cute, a drunk Russian trying to stand up in the snow or an innocent man, a son, a journalist being murdered by someone whose twisted view of his faith makes him ‘believe’ his actions are just. You are a click away from the worst of humanity, faith, belief, and what you may know or feel is right or wrong. You have no control over this unless you opt out completely. Social Media has no control either and IS know this.

Sharing views, keeping followers or friends informed is one thing but social media is fast becoming something more and it has now contributed to the murder of James Foley. Social Media gives IS a platform and that platform allows them to ‘share’ their message, ‘post’ their actions, their followers to ‘retweet’ it and there is nothing we can do about it. There is nothing social media providers, these listed companies with shareholders and profits to make can do about it.

So the question is ‘would James Foley still be alive if social media didn’t exist?’. If the act of his brutal murder couldn’t be ‘shared’ or ‘tweeted’ or ‘retweeted’ would IS have done it?

The conclusion could be to beware the advocates of social media, those who claim it is the future and we must embrace it, do more on it, make it part of our every day lives, plead for tweets or posts. Most of all beware of those who have the need for ‘followers’ and ‘friends’. These are some of the many lessons of this week.

One last thing. The bravery of James Foley shown in his face against the masked face of ‘Jihadi John’ who was unwilling to show the world his face by hiding in the cowardice of non identity and clearly lacking in any confidence that his ‘god’ believes in him tells us much about this version of Islam and IS.

N.B

I am aware I have used Social Media to publish this blog. That irony is not lost too.

I’m not being racist but…

Immigration. It’s a complex word that strikes a deep chord, gets the media in a tangle and makes politicians worry about what they can say, or don’t say.

At the last general election in 2010 it was the third rail of British politics. Touch it and you will die. Bigotgate anyone? Ask Gordon Brown about immigration and see his jaw lock, as only it can. This year and the next general election this will and must change.

It is a painful reality that, as part of he EU, we have freedom of movement around the 27 member states and they do here. So we can no more pull up the UK PLC drawbridge and lock the doors with a sign on saying ‘No Vacancies’ than Spain can do the same to us. Maybe Spain, Greece, France, Portugal would like to send back all those British expats living in those warmer European climbs? Freedom of movement is a central plank of the EU and, without it, the whole project will fail. So for the UK not to be part of this fundamental part of the EU means we are out, even before you get be asked if you want to be in or out in 2017. It is a shame that the bill that would have made that law has now died a painful death at the hands of our noble lords. That is politics for you.

This last week has seen the Prime Minister commit again to ‘tens of thousands’ of net immigration just as parliament got itself into a total tis over the Immigration Bill. The sight of our Home Secretary having to sit on her hands and abstain on an illegal amendment to the bill shows how difficult this whole issue is, even for our law makers and party leaders.

So is it racist to debate immigration? The BBC gets itself in knots over the issue, as do most national newspapers and politicians. Is it racist to want border controls? If it is then most countries outside the EU are guilty as charged. ‘I’m not being racist but … can I see your visa?’ Is it racist to expect those who choose to the UK to pay taxes, to be part of the wider community, to speak the common language and respect the laws and traditions of the UK? Is it racist to ask those who come her to be part of our culture, life, and principles? Is it racist to send home those who threaten lives or incite hatred against the wider society?

Last year the retiring Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks suggested multiculturalism creates a society where “everyone is a guest”, and went on to call for a “multi-ethnic” society not multi-cultured. In essence multicultural means many cultures rubbing along together, all trying to understand and respect each other. But what happens when things rub? Friction, heat and then worse. Lord Sacks went on to say multiculturalism in Britain has “had its day” having led to “segregation and inward looking communities”. Is he a racist for say that? Am I a racist for expanding on it?

We must stop being afraid of a debate on immigration and the many unique cultures that live in the UK. We must control our boarders, know who is coming in and out and we must stop saying ‘I’m not being racist but’ every time we dare to express a view that might offend someone. Free speech is just one of the many reasons why we are all here and free speech might just achieve a multi ethnic, broad, mono cultured society that we can all live in, happily.

Rape is wrong, right?

I have had busy couple of weeks, covering many different topics too on my BBC programme but one topic has struck a chord with my listeners more than any other.

Rape.

On the phone in element of Thursdays programme we discussed the ‘this is not an excuse’ campaign launched in Bristol. The four different hard-hitting billboard posters throughout the city follows the success of the campaign in Scotland, based on a Rape Crisis message. It provoked the expected response but we also heard all sides of the issue. And we heard from victims too who we could not put to air, but I hope we helped. We took calls from victims of rape who have never reported the crime committed against them.

Rape is wrong. The posters are hard-hitting and if you have yet to see them I would urge you to take a look at thisisnotanexcuse.org.uk. Please take a long, hard, thought-provoking look. Then consider the message.

It is quite simple. There is no excuse for rape. None. It is a crime, it is about power, subjugation, it has no place in any society and the only person to blame is the perpetrator. Simple. But no, it’s not simple. If only it was really that simple. To make it that simple is wrong.

There should be NO doubt that ANY victim of rape, be they a woman or man (40 men got raped in the West in the last year as well as 420 women) be guilty. But is the perpetrator of this crime wholly and totally guilty for his or her actions? Yes, women can rape too. Is every rapist just guilty and it is for them alone to stand and fall by their horrendous crime and accept that they alone are the singular instigator and mastermind? Or are we all, in some way, guilty for an over sexualized society where sex sells everything, breasts and bums are on show in daily newspapers and porn is a couple of clicks away on any PC or tablet? Is it really acceptable to dress in a way that celebrates being attractive as nothing more than ‘get it here’ sex? To answer that last question is to go out in any of our towns or cities in the West on a Saturday night and reach your own conclusion.

Rape is about power and it is not about sex. But sex is the route to this power. You should be able to wear what you want, where you want without fear of attack or worse. And ‘no’ should mean ‘no’. Rape is not a feminist issue, a police matter or a poster campaign. It is about all of us and the blackest part of our today.

Most rapes are silent, not violent and between those who know each other. Only 15% of all rapes are ever reported. This has to be about more than just the shame and the intimacy of being the victim of the most violating of crimes. It must be about how we judge sex, all sex has become and what it means from our daily newspapers, TV, social media through to easily accessible porn. The message is that if you have sex, you must have wanted it, because we all do. That is the how the sexual message is sold. And the not reporting of the crime of rape is the consequence because the victim thinks it is their fault. It isn’t.

Rape is unacceptable. Any victim should feel that she or he can report the crime, be treated fairly and respectfully through the due process of criminal law and that the outcome reflects the nature of the crime. The only bit of this we have got right so far is that rape is unacceptable. The rest is slow work in progress.

This says more about our society today than many other things.

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