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Welcome to the BBCNN 24 hour “news” channel

Posted by putsimply on 7th August 2008

We have a guest blog from EML’s Client Services Director, David Marsden today:

As I sat in an airport bar the day before yesterday, BBC News 24 flashed up on the 50″ Plasma: “BREAKING NEWS: Planes collide at Manchester Airport
This was the opening (misleading) gambit….. “Report to follow” we were told.

Did I miss an important media update that BBC has merged with CNN? Perhaps the BBC is finding it hard to maintain viewing figures for its 24hr news channel so, instead of the Beeb’s arguably traditionally objective and informative reporting style, it is resorting to large, bold-type, overblown, attention-grabbing headlines that seem oblivious to the facts of the story.

Following the Hollywood style cliff-hanger, I put down my beer (yes, that serious); the man dining at the next table stopped dead, soup spoon floating precariously in mid-air. The soup was tomato, he was wearing a white shirt, it could all have gone wrong (BBC headline: “Man witnesses Manchester air crash, causes bloody carnage at airport”).

When the reporter got to the facts, an airport spokesman clarified that: “There was a minor wing tip collision as the planes taxied towards runway one.” Everyone went back about their business. A group at the next table laughed at the inappropriateness of the headline. Soup man continued slurping.

Don’t get me wrong, the story was important. Any physical contact between moving planes has to be a bad thing. But by the time the viewer realised how misleading the headline was, the BBC had lost any hope of gaining viewers’ sympathy for those on board or of viewers taking the story as seriously as it actually deserved.

Why does the BBC find it necessary to treat viewers in the same way The Sport treats its readers? When, and why, was a decision taken at the Beeb to dumb down its reliable news reporting by padding it out with over-inflated, sensationalist headlines? I guess that it was around the time that someone saw that CNN’s 24 hour news channel model makes more money…

Come on BBC news editors, if you didn’t grow up reading The Boy Who Cried Wolf, I suggest you read it now. I think a lot of us would dearly love to go back to the days of quality -not quantity- conscious BBC news. In the pursuit of filling a 24 hour news channel, please don’t become the BBCNN (British Broadcasting Corporation of No News).