One of the things “herself” complains of is the fact that lately, there is no good provider of news. Back in the day, you could rely upon the the BBC, stalwarts of good unbiased journalism, to fill you in on what’s going on in the world. But gradually, cable TV has bombarded us with an increasing number of US centric, chest thumping journalism which is more geared around filling our minds with rubbish about celebrity and showbiz (Sky News), or sail-boats and golf courses (CNN) than it is with reporting real facts impacting real people.
The latest bugbear of mine has to be Sky’s supposed Foreign Affairs Editor. They’ve styled him as “a leading authority on foreign affairs”. Listening to him though, you would be forgiven for thinking he’s anything but! In my opinion, listening to him is like listening to a mate you might have who thinks he knows everything there is to know about any subject matter…..you know the type I’m talking about.
I generally flick between three sources, BBC News, Euro News and Sky News (for the sport and weather). I cannot stand listening to the American centric drivel that’s spouted from either CNN or FOX. So from time to time I find my ears listening to the “educated thoughts” of Mr. Tim Marshall. But every time I listen to him, it sounds like whatever he’s saying is either completely made up, or it’s based on half truths and rumour that he’s heard from his fellow hacks in some bar on Fleet Street. It’s amazing that a man who spends most of his time in the studio waxing lyrical about the Baath Party movement, or Osama Bin Laden’s leadership skills and Al Qaeda’s political make up, tries to make himself come across as all knowing. Recently during the Egyptian protests when protesters had holed themselves up on Tahrir Square, there he was with the Skystrator thingy drawing “battle lines” and contemplating the Egyptian security forces tactics, which streets would they attack, how could the protesters defend themselves…..all this whilst sitting safely on a sofa looking at Google Maps!!
The parts I like the most though are when he’s confronted by a real expert who’s actually BEEN to the places or met with the people he’s talking about and they tear shreds off him. I wouldn’t be surprised if he also does what CNN have done lately, i.e. scouring Facebook and Twitter for stories and opinions of people on the ground, and then passing them off as known facts and knowledge garnered from either personal experiences or close confidential “sources”.
But that last one is their favourite, isn’t it. That “I must not reveal my sources” hides so many sins. I’m sure that there are indeed instances when journo’s should indeed protect their sources, especially if it has an impact on their sources staying alive or being arrested and shot. But now that news organisations lately have become less and less impartial and have decided to pick sides (just look at the state of the news rags in the UK these days to see what I mean) they tend to embellish the story with rumour and half truths and then hide behind the façade of “protecting my source”. Given that CNN got caught out recently on the “Gay Girl in Damascus” story, basing their factual reports on a blog written by a middle-aged American man living in Scotland, it hardly seems surprising that nobody with a brain between their ears believes anything on the news anymore. This is already the case amongst academia and the literati in places like Russia and China, whom for decades have never trusted or believed anything that their news agencies reported. It is only recently that Russia has founded a movement of like minded individuals who are hell bent on reporting and printing the truth and exposing the corruption and cronyism that has plagued their country for years. The Chinese have also followed suit, as have Ukraine, India and Mexico. But all these countries journalists run the risk of meeting with a messy death, usually brought about by bundling into the back of a van, followed by a bullet to the back of the head.
But Western journo’s don’t deal with such fears though….except perhaps if they’re reporting from the frontline of some political revolt or civil war or Western crusade masquerading as a war. But not our man Tim….no Tim will continue to play expert on the comfy couch in the Sky News studio, and occasionally when things have died down, he might make an appearance from “the frontline” informing us of all the worldly inside knowledge he has gleaned (probably from Wikipedia or from the Fleet Street bar the night before), passed off as “locally sourced”.
Yes indeed, it seems that the age of proper journalism has died a death and that the independent media have become the puppets of their puppet masters in Whitehall and the White House. No more can the likes of the US or the UK point fingers at their counterparts in the Kremlin or Beijing at not having a country and environment that cherishes the freedoms of the press. In the meantime, I’ve taken to watching Al Jazeera.