Friday, August 29, 2008

Balance on Channel 4 News

So, McCain announces his running mate.

Channel 4 News leads with the Democrats' line on the announcement ("inexperienced candidate a heartbeat from power...") and Obama's attack on McCain in his speech last night.

They later introduced the Governor of Alaska as a former beauty queen.

We know how much Channel 4 News (and the BBC, of course) want Obama to win but can't they at least pretend to be balanced?

4 comments:

Jon said...

It's difficult when everyone who isn't a bastard wants Obama to win :p

andypiper said...

To be fair, the Republican strategist they interview pointed out the bias straight away. And if you read the right blogs you can get the complete opposite view too, of course (by the way I only read those in order to get the balance, not because I necessarily subscribe to those opinions). I think the C4 News interview approach is pretty Paxman-like - go with the aggressive opposite line to your interviewee and see what comes out.

Richard Brown said...

Hi Andy,

Good point about the strategist... I thought she gave as good as she got :-)

However, I'm not sure I agree about the "aggressive opposite line" argument. You're right that interviewers on Channel 4 and the BBC use this technique a great deal. However, they also have another technique that consists of treating the interviewee as an expert or analyst to be gently probed for an assessment of a particular topic.

When this analyst is actually a C4/BBC journalist (e.g. Kirsty Wark interviewing Gavin Esler) then it probably has merit but, very often, the "impartial" expert they're interviewing is actually highly partisan.

So, in cases where the "attack" style is chosen, you are correct that the interviewers are aggressive regardless of interviewee. But it ignores the proliferation of cases where the decision is taken not to use that interview style at all.

Andrew F said...

I have pretty much given up expecting any balance from news media since I began to (I think) understand incentives properly. What drives Channel 4 in this case is not fairness.