We are constantly lied to by journalists.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think it’s their fault that this happens. They have to sum up very difficult stories in a few hundred words, many times only including the salient points. It’s probably become much more complex since the internet and it’s an often demanding job which society is now slightly more weary of since the Murdock scandal.
What I don’t like. What, frankly, really annoys me is when journalism foists a viewpoint on people. The most avid exponents of this are the Daily Mail where not a day goes by without them apparently forcing their agenda on their unsuspecting readership. Local papers are really bad for this. My parents are convinced that if you go out in Gloucester at night, you’ll get stabbed. That’s what the papers are always saying tough,
“Youth Stabbed in Gloucester Center.”
Is the center of Gloucester actually different from any other city? No, but it’s all the paper has room to report. You don’t get articles telling you that 2 gangs of youths met up in the city, decided to watch a film, had a really good time and got home by midnight.
It’s the same with daytime television. Debate shows that have too little time to discuss a subject properly just set up two opposing viewpoints and let callers battle it out. The host must take an opposing position occasionally but they can have their own opinions as well. The problem is that these shows are often the decision makers of a nation, as are the tabloids that preceded them, and a new level of authority is given to them that they probably don’t deserve. Lets not forget that the journalists on our televisions are the same journalists who were writing the tabloids before their TV break.
The poster boy of tabloid television has to be The Wright Stuff. Debate every morning in the studio and on the telephones. I’ve seen how the show affects people. I’ve had conversations with people whose entire viewpoint has stemmed from their patronage of that particular show and, largely, they don’t understand the wider implications of the decisions they have come to. Can we ever understand all of the implications… that’s probably a discussion for a different time but we can all grasp a greater range of concepts than are allowed to come out in these television debates.
All of which brings me to the point of this post, the way The Wright Stuff treated Doctor Who this morning. Yes, all of this pseudo-intellectual build-up was really just an excuse for me to rant about the way they treated a show that I am very fond of. Apart form calling it Doctor Snooze throughout the programme (that is just personal opinion, not bad journalism) the thing that actually annoyed me was the review that it was given by the shows TV critic.
Firstly, he said that he was not a fan of science fiction. That’s fine, each to his own, but to then to say that he couldn’t follow the story and so, therefore, it was a bad programme really smacks of a false syllogism to me. Matthew Wright’s opinions of the show (which we already know he doesn’t like) seemed to be more of an attack on the BBC than a considered opinion on the matter. And that’s the problem in my mind. The critic (whose name I can’t remember) said he thought the show was funny. OK, he couldn’t follow the plot but he also conceded that there were a lot of people out there who would be able to and are already fans of the show. I wonder if he is aware of the overarching story that we have seen in the previous series. I wonder if he has considered that this first episode may very well be the first in a group of episodes and that not all elements of the plot needed to be explained?
Personally, I find it very refreshing that we actually have some intelligent sci-fi stories in Doctor Who and we’re not just dealing with the ‘monster of the week’ each time. I also wonder how much the employment of channel 5 has influenced what was said on the show. Would he have said the same things if he was working for the BBC? Finally, I still think that there’s a little bit of snobery when it comes to Doctor Who. The series has changed from the Rustle T Davies days and many would say that it has changed for the better. But, the move away from the mainstream back to it’s sci-fi roots seems to have polarised opinions somewhat. Some of the sillyness of the show has gone and been replaced by some really well thought out, funny, intelligent lines which really speak to the audience.
Finally, the comment that annoyed me more than anything else…
“It’s not high drama”
I may be paraphrasing here, but that was the jist (and said in the same piece that mentioned how good the latest series of Big Brother is). Doctor Who was never meant to be high drama. Is that really a fair criticism of a show that probably brings more money in to the corporation than any of it’s other drama exports? Certainly, there is no drama on any other channel which would compete with it. Midsummer Murders, for example. How ridiculous a programme is that?
The fact of the matter is that if you want good science fiction in this country there are only two programms that you can watch. Doctor Who is not only one of them, it is the flagship that Torchwood sits under as well. Yes, the audiences are different and that has allowed Torchwood to delve deeper in to plot and exposition. But that’s fine because as shows they both have there place in the audiences affections. If you want high drama, the BBC has that as well. Critically acclaimed dramas are on there each year. If you think Doctor Who is bad drama just because it’s sci-fi then look around at some of the stuff Channel 5 puts on. I’d take Doctor Who over Neighbours any day. If you think Doctor Who is just bad Sci-fi, don’t keep putting the boot in, go out there and make something better. You’re in television after all, lets see you get more viewers.
Now, I feel I am allowed to say this because I am a blogger. I don’t hold my writing up as master journalism at all and I don’t pretend it is anything other than what it is, my opinion. On a show that informs people’s opinions, however, why are we being treated to nothing but personal opinions and not a more balanced view of the subject matter. After all, these same tabloid television journalists would be the first ones to bemoan their own shows coming under attack from a BBC seemingly awash with bias. Why do they not hold there own journalistic integrity up to those same strict guidelines?