The Woolves of Parliament Square. Channel 4 News – Thursday 30 October 2014

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It has become an enlightening discipline to have to watch the whole 7pm Channel 4 News bulletin without switching it off in disgust. Here are my observations for Thursday 30th October 2014.

19.00 – 19.01 – Intros

19.01 – 19.06 The proliferation of drugs in prisons & decriminalisation.

19.06 – 19.11 Social unrest in Burkina Faso.

19.11 – 19.21 Manchester sex abuse scandal including an interview with Tony Lloyd,Police Crime Commissioner for Greater Manchester & Stephen Woolfe UKIP MEP for North West England. Krishnan Guru-Murthy asks “Is there a specific issue with Asians in the North West?”.

19.21 – 19.24 US nurse breaks Ebola quarantine.

19.24 – 19.26 NIBs about Scottish Labour Party, shooting at Al Aqsa and Libya.

19.26 – 19.32 Paul Mason reporting from East coast towns talking to people about UKIP and immigration.

19.32 – 19.34 “Adverts”

19.34 – 19.43 Proliferation of drugs in New England, US.

19.43 – 19.48 Follow-on interviews with UK anti-drugs worker and recreational user.

19.48 – 19.51 New Birmingham sperm bank.

Again, the ad break included the trailer for “Make Leicester British”.

Nothing specifically about British Muslims but the Manchester sex abuse story was given a racial slant, and a UKIP rent-a-gob, although there was a glaring side-step where maybe Krish should have asked “Is there a specific issue with Asians in the North West [and white, privileged men in Westminster]?”.

I’m sure it slipped his mind.

Paul Mason did attempt inject a little perspective in his report from the seaside town they forgot to close down, but it was mostly just giving a voice to people moaning about Poles coming over here, taking the shit jobs we don’t want to do.

So, for Thursday I count only 17 minutes (approximately) out of 51 that was about UKIP & immigrants.

It’s getting a little better as the week goes on but there are plenty of glaring omissions such as Occupy Democracy, Hinkley C, Fukushima, the environment generally etc etc.

More tomorrow.

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Who needs TTIP when you have the CIA? Channel 4 News – Wednesday 29 October 2014

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I wish I’d saved yesterday’s blog title for today, but never mind, there’s plenty of dirt to go around. It’s a shame George Orwell and Adolf Hitler did such a good job documenting the subtleties of expert propaganda, it’s almost too easy these days.

Here are the timings for the Channel 4 News 7pm bulletin on Wednesday.

19.00 – 19.02 Various intros.

19.02 – 19.11 Manchester child abuse scandal.

19.11 – 19.14 John Lowe shotgun murders.

19.14 – 19.16 Latvian cargo plane intercepted by fighter jet.

19.16 – 19.21 The Emir of Qatar meets the Queen and David Cameron in London.

19.21 – 1924 Tesco investigated for alleged false accounting.

19.24 – 19.25 NIBs about landslide in Sri Lanka, Ebola and Rio Ferdinand.

19.25 – 19.37 Substantial feature on economic migrants from Bulgaria to Germany.

1937 – 19.40 Antares rocket failure.

19.40 – 19.45 Interview with director Christopher Nolan about new film “Interstellar”.

19.45 – 19.46 “Adverts”.

19.46 – 19.51 Feature about Grime music.

19.51 – 19.56 Feature & interview with musician & writer Kate Tempest.

No mention at all of radicalised Muslims or UKIP on Wednesday, but plenty of xenophobia and some subtle anti-EU propaganda.

I’m including the first feature about child abuse in my total of time dedicated to xenophobia because of a rather prominent mention of sexual abuse happening “above kebab shops, above pizza parlours” and how they are “still driving around in their taxis”, and we all know which particular stereotype that is reinforcing. However, the most startling comment in this bulletin was when John Snow asked Nazid Afzah from the Manchester Crime Prosecution Service, ”what is it about these Northern cities?”

Well, John, I can only guess that Theresa May MP (currently Home Secretary) did not give “these Northern cities” as much of a head start to misplace their incriminating dossiers.

The Emir of Qatar comes to London to negotiate buying weapons. The same Gulf state that is suspected of ending up in the hands of ISIL, but no mention of the newly de-classified documents revealing how the CIA (with the help of the British government) engineered the Iranian coup of 1953 which eventually led to the Islamic revolution of 1979. It’s pretty common knowledge and seems like a no-brainer to link all this up with the proliferation of war in the Middle-East and the dirty tricks on behalf of the US and UK.

Never mind.

However, the most subtly invidious feature was about the Bulgarian youths, apparently economic migrants, being trafficked to Germany, promised work but (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) used as rent boys. The feature ended with a translated quotation about how with Bulgaria now being in the EU, their lives will be like that for years. It was just a veiled indictment of free movement in the EU.

The rest of it was fluff apart from the ad break which featured one advert for a confrontational documentary entitled “Make Leicester British”. Bless.

So, for Wednesday 29th October 2014, I count 22 minutes (approximately) out of 56 dedicated to demonising immigrants and the EU.

Who’s afraid of Fiona Woolf? Channel 4 News – Tuesday 28 October 2014

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Although I have been moaning for some time about my perception that Channel 4 News was disproportionately reporting stories about radicalised Muslims and immigration, I was genuinely shocked at yesterday’s calculations of 42 minutes out of 55.

Here are the timings and content for day two to the nearest minute.

19.00 – 19.09 A story about Libyan “migrants” attempting to reach Italy and being rescued at sea by the British Navy, amongst others, and how a new policy is to withdraw support for these rescues and “let them drown” as a deterrent.

19.09 – 19.17 A follow-on story about as many as 2,500 illegal migrants gathering at Calais trying to enter Britain. “Is it really that many?” an incredulous Cathy Newman asks Paraic O’Brien.

19.17 – 19.19 “North of England Correspondent” Ciaran Jenkins reports on the ongoing child abuse scandal in Rotherham and elsewhere.

19.19 – 19.22 A report on LLoyds Bank proposing to close branches and lose jobs, following on to the wider issue of technology replacing jobs.

19.22 – 19.25 A story about a Muslim woman who is believed to have taken her small child to Syria. “Up to 25 British Muslims have been killed in Syria” and as many as “five Britons a week” are going to Syria, “a huge number”.

19.25 – 19.31 Ebola

19.31 – 19.40 A feature about Muslim radicalisation and the attitudes of British Muslims.

19.40 – 19.45 Diabetes

19.45 – 19.49 A report on the soon to be elected new Police Crimes Commissioner for South Yorkshire and Michael Crick managed to put in a special mention for the UKIP candidate.

19.49 – 19.52 New weather forecasting super-computer.

19.52 – 19.56 A story about Sir Nicholas Winton who aided Jewish children to escape persecution in pre-war Czechoslovakia.

The Libyan “migrants” are actually refugees from a country in anarchy after the US / UK / NATO military  intervention. Libya is chaos and awash with weapons and militias. Rather like Somalia. And Iraq. And Afghanistan etc.

2,500 migrant / refugees in Callais is not that many, actually. Sure, it is a problem that has to be dealt with but there was no acknowledgement of what is driving these people out of their own countries, just an attempt to relate it to benefits.

Every time they use the term “North of England Correspondent” it makes me feel warm inside.

I do not dispute that some British Muslims are becoming “radicalised” and, again, I do not claim that it is not a problem that should be addressed, but 25 British casualties when present as combatants in a war zone is nothing compared with the estimated 700,000 killed in the “War Against Terror”, and five a week leaving for Syria is not a “huge” number.

At half-time there was a reasonably substantial feature that at least attempted to give a voice to a number of British Muslims and how they felt in the current atmosphere anti-Muslim paranoia. However, it was still about us and them.

Tuesday’s quota turns out to be only 29 minutes (give or take a minute) out of 56 (and no adverts) on immigration and radicalised Muslims, which is better than Monday but still more than 50%.

Whilst I do not dismiss that both of these are real issues that need reporting and action, what concerns me is the exaggeration and the resulting paranoia, which I believe is a politically-seeded editorial policy in order to make immigration a major campaigning issue in order to push the electorate to the right.

I also watched Al Jazeera for a while today, and it seems that the United Kingdom is not the only country in the world.

And nothing on (ahem) certain issues that might (or might not) have far reaching repercussions in the establishment.

BBC News can no longer be trusted, and neither can Channel 4 News – Monday 27 October 2014

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I stopped watching BBC television news after their coverage of the death and funeral of Margaret Thatcher in 2013. I was born in Nottinghamshire but have lived in South Yorkshire since I was a year old and Thatcher was a very unpopular prime minister in these parts, although you would not have realised that from the eulogising on the BBC.

But Broadcasting House is a long way from Orgreave, and the BBC’s recently replaced chairman, Chris Patten, has come a long way since his days as Secretary of State for the Environment when guess-who was prime minister. I doubt those two things are connected.

My wife has been getting increasingly irritated with my whinging about television news broadcasting, so I’m going to stop bothering her and bother you instead. For some time I have been complaining about what I perceived as a disproportionate obsession, particularly on the part of Channel 4 News, with British jidahis and general xenophobia. But this was all just subjective, so I decided to try a little documentary experiment.

I am not a journalist, but I am a critical consumer of the news, and I decided to log the proportions of time spent, and the subject of the stories reported, on the main 7pm Channel 4 News bulletin over a period of seven consecutive days. This is day one.

Timings are to the nearest minute.

19.00 – 19.11 They led with the story of Bolton teacher Jamshed Javeed who has admitted charges that he was intending to travel to Syria to fight the Assad regime.

19.11 – 19.14 David Cameron is bumped into by a “jogger”.

19.14 – 19.26 David Cameron is refusing to pay up the European Union’s bill for £1.7 billion, followed by an item on the European Arrest Warrant.

19.26 – 19.30 A story about Michael Fallon claiming that some places in Britain are being “swamped” with immigrants.

19.30 – 19.40 Sex trafficking by Romanian gangsters.

19.40 – 19.42 Surfers die in Newquay.

19.42 – 19.43 British troops withdraw from Afghanistan.

19.43 – 1946 The proposed High Speed rail link (HS3).

19.46 – 19.50 Boko Haram jihadis kidnapping women and girls in Nigeria.

19.50 – 19.52 Adverts

19.52 – 19.55 The proliferation of civilian drone aircraft and the need for regulation.

19.55 – 19.56 European illegal migration, including a quotation from a trafficker “I take all the dirt”.

Out of a 55 minute program (not including adverts and weather), 42 minutes (give or take a minute) were spent reporting about Muslim jihadis, anti-EU politics and immigration. All panic-mongering stories about Johnny Foreigner.

There is plenty happening in the world other than immigration, including climate change, the disappearance of wildlife, increasing inequality, Iain Duncan Smith’s re-designation of degenerative diseases as curable, the commissioning of Hinckley C, US-led war-based economics, coal gasification etc etc etc.

Oh yes, and all those Occupy Democracy protesters in London, but I guess the Channel 4 News editors didn’t walk through Parliament Square.

Whilst I do not doubt the integrity of the individual journalists and broadcasters on Channel 4 News (Paul Mason in particular has published some very insightful and critical online articles recently), there is something deeply troubling about the editorial balance of the program. There is a poisonous xenophobia and paranoid nationalism evident throughout the mainstream media and it is something to be resisted.

I have no doubt that the editorial policy will change once Channel 4 find out I am on the case, so expect more balanced reporting by the weekend, and at least they didn’t mention UKIP today.

One down, six to go.