Friday, November 11, 2016

Two penn'orth

There's an emerging consensus that if journalists had spent more time examining underlying issues and less on tracking campaign rhetoric, then the Brexit and US Election Results would have been less of a shock - both to the journalists and their readers/viewers/listeners.

For the BBC, political teams in Millbank love a good binary row; Dimbleby and his producers seem to relish combative editions of Question Time; and even Andrew Neil on the worthy Daily Politics plays up to his own self-appointed Gimlet-eyed Inquisitor role by eviscerating junior politicians, rather than looking at policy.

The issues, at home and abroad, have been covered; the question is, with sufficient prominence ?
Remember John Humphrys on UK immigration ?  Here's a good Radio 4 Analysis on the USA turning to protectionism. And here's a clear Reality Check: Do foreign workers take jobs and cut wages ?

Good, straightforward reporting and analysis. What is perhaps missing is 'debate'. I think current affairs shows were slightly hamstrung by counting appearances in the Brexit campaign, and a tad squeamish about casting long discussions on the future of free trade, movement of labour, crime, race, religion and terrorism, explicitly as part of 'issue' coverage, rather than as daily business. Such debates are hard to set up, hard to research, and hard to chair.  It's also hard to attract an audience for them - especially on tv.

The issues still matter now. Let's see some BBC 'specials' soon.

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