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.