Sunday 30 March 2008

On objectivity.

I haven't enjoyed the Sunday programme [a religious affairs magazine programme] on BBC Radio 4 for years. It has not, to me, seemed to observe any sort of an objective standpoint for many years—at least, as regards the things I regard as important.
When it covers Catholic, or even conservative Protestant issues, when not actively critical, it adopts a sort of patronizing, condescending, 'ah, bless, we know better' tone that simply gets me cross. Today it addressed the issue of conscience concerning the debate on the Fertilization and Embryology bill. It was , it seemed to me, quite unashamedly one-sided: you can hear the debate yourself on the BBC website. While the Catholic opinion was, of course, addressed, as being one of the most clearly expressed of the Bill's opposition groups not one single Catholic voice was represented on the programme. It was entirely one-sided. The closest we came to an unbiased voice was, of all people, that of Lord Steel, the author of the original 1967 abortion act, who (unlike the others) accorded Catholics the right to have and even express an opinion, provided we did not seek to exert political pressure according to those opinions.
The right to make one's opinion count is, I'm afraid, called democracy. Imagine if, a hundred and fifty years ago, those, yes, Christians, who opposed slavery accepted that they were welcome to hold their opinions, but must not exert political pressure.
Imagine if the various feminist, or liberal, or secularist groups were to be dealt with as we have been. There would be howls of protest.
The trouble is that the BBC, as other media groups, no longer see news as something to be represented dispassionately, but have taken a standpoint. This is bias. The BBC is not the Osservatore Romano, or even The Tablet. They cannot be expected to present our opinions as their own; however, I think we have a right to have our views expressed by ourselves and not by our opponents, with no opportunity of reply other than sending an email to the BBC website (as we were invited to do at the end of the programme). This loss of objectivity is deeply to be lamented.
Christopher Howes, always worth reading, in my opinion, remarked in this week's Tablet:
That day…the Independent ran a front page filled with a blue-tinted stock picture of a sharp glass tube piercing a cell wall. A headline read: 'Parkinsons; the breakthrough'. Beneath in parallel were two subheadings: 'Mice show significant neurological improvements' and 'Research will be hampered if Church succeeds in blocking Embryology Bill'. This is the new style of campaigning journalism of what was once called the quality press; news is not separated from opinion.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Steel also trotted out the hoary old canard about Aquinas's views on ensoulment and how the Church has "changed" its position on abortion. But, as the following article shows, he doesn't know what he's talking about!