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Friday, July 05, 2013


just a certain amount of irony

i dip my toe in the daily mail only occasionally and with a large dollop of trepidation. 
blow me down when i saw the headline for a tom utley piece in there "my tube ride with braying lawyers and the fracturing of britain into self-serving tribes", it all sounded very interesting. 
back in the day when i had a job and could afford to use the tube regularly i would often go via temple to get to the hayward gallery. so i thought i might recognise mr. utley's description of loud out of touch lawyers and barristers. 
i can't say i did. 
(though i take his implicit point that the advent of mobile phones has broken down some conventions about personal private space, speech and conversation - in many cases even if you didn't want to be aware of the problems of the bloke at the other end of the carriage you no longer have that as options thanks to his bellowing down his phone). 

not that it really matters because mr. utley isn't really interested in having a pop at lawyers and barristers. they are the taster for the main course. 
nor are the politicians he mentions in passing. 
no the real self-serving tribe in britain is the bbc and all who work in her. 

mr. utley is making a valuable point in that some groups become so self selecting and self policing that they lose sight of the wider world around them. in short people can become institutionalised to the prevailing 'world view' of their organisation, peer group, set, tribe - call them what you will. 
we can see it in the current tory parties mantra of 'making work pay' as if all the benefits are being paid out to fund a feckless unemployed class - when the reality is a great deal of benefits are being paid in order to subsidise poor paying employers. 

even if you are sensible enough not to read the daily mail you can probably guess that it is not the biggest fan of the bbc. it hates the bbc with a passion. 
mr. utley, of course, is impartial and not swayed by the view of the paper that prints his column. 
no mr. utley deals in fact. cold hard solid fact. from that he can make a judgement about the state of the bbc.

why here he is describing bbc bias: 
"take bbc south-east, which I’m told chose to mark margaret thatcher’s death with an assessment of her impact on the region’s economy, focusing on the devastation she had caused by closing a colliery in kent. 
there was no mention, apparently, of her  transformation of the south-east into one of the most prosperous regions on the planet."
a crushing condemnation some would say. 
mr. utley might be right and this was how the bbc south-east choose to cover maggie's death - but i don't know. 
nor does mr. utley "which i'm told" and "apparently" are not the words of a man who has done his research. even if he had been alerted to this heinous bias on the part of the bbc by his bestest friend, the least he could have done was track it down to confirm. 

at least he had the good grace to indicate that this story was hearsay. 

but credit to him mr. utley isn't giving up: "and when everyone in the entire newsroom turns first to the guardian — as my younger sister tells me her colleagues did at bush house, in her many years at the bbc world service — the idea becomes entrenched that this is the paper whose news agenda is to be trusted."
again it is hearsay and anecdotal - but what shame mr. utley must feel to have a younger sister tainted with the bbc, no doubt she turned to the daily mail or the telegraph first. 
it is hard to tell from his sister's comment whether or not they (the beeb journos) looked at other papers as well, i suspect they did - but that would have ruined mr. utley's piece and one can't help feel that his younger sister was just making her big brother feel better by feeding into his anti-bbc bias, which has nothing whatsoever to do with his working at the daily mail, mr. utley has arrived at his position on the bbc independently and through much thought and research (as evidenced by his current piece). 

maybe someone who is the son of journalist and has a younger sister working in the media is perhaps not best suited to speak of the potential detrimental effects of people coming together because of a common interest or belief. 
or at the very least should be brave enough to declare his own situation (as i am sure his period working on the daily telegraph didn't help forge his views). 

i believe we are all guilty of the mote in our own eye syndrome. 
the difference is quite a lot of us don't get to write vaguely influential columns in national newspapers.

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