BROADCAST NEWS: Armchair view Part 6

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Dr John Robertson

Scottish MSM and the General Election 2015: Part 6: January 27th to 30th.

I’ve got a leak from BBC Scotland! This report from one of their staff briefings will blow this whole thing wide!

BBC Scotland Region                     INTERNAL TOP SECRET

News Staff Briefing, 20.1.15: 09:45

Head of News, Jock Butchman:

I’ve been approached, on my private line, by random members of the public with suggestions for how we can improve our coverage of politics. The callers were Messrs Brown, Murphy, Davidson, Reid, Robertson and a Ms Dugdale. All of the callers felt we had been unfair to Scottish New Labour (SNL) and too kind to the Scottish Government. All wanted an increase in blaming the Scottish Government for anything at all. Also, all of the callers felt we weren’t giving enough credit to the SNL for drawing attention to the Scottish Government’s failures. Mr Robertson’s suggestion that we draw more attention to Satanism and membership of Boko Haram amongst SNP MSPs should probably go on the back-burner until such time as we need a good story. OK, comments?

This is NOT Brian Butcher
This is NOT Brian Butcher

Chief Political Reporter, Brian Butcher:

Good stuff boss but there’s a teeny wee problem. Newsnet.scot have suggested we’re doing this already and their GA Ponsonby even tweeted that we might be planning to headline Labour’s call for the snow to stop, blame the government for the snow and when it stopped, let Katya Dogadoodle claim it was Labour pressure that stopped the snow. Luckily we had time to cancel the report. And that so-called professor they give space to has been listing cases where we’ve been giving due credit to Labour for the good things they have done, like stopping the big prison. There was a real danger that women’s groups like ‘Women for Independence’ would get the credit for their years of campaigning against imprisoning women or, worse, that the Scottish Government would’ve announced their scrapping of the plan, before we managed to help Katya claim all the credit.

Head of News:

Well done Brian. Keep that kind of thing up.

Brian:

Thanks boss but as I was saying there’s a danger viewers might spot what we’re up to if we give Labour credit for something every night. Plan Murphy isn’t working despite all the coverage we’ve given him.

This is NOT G.A. Ponsonby
This is NOT G.A. Ponsonby

Head of News: Damn that professor! And who is this Ponsonby character? He must be related to the STV guy. Put somebody on this. I want dirt. OK, postpone strategy ‘Praise Labour’ for a few days then start again. Our audience is not that smart. They’re still watching aren’t they? Final item then and it’s good news about Professor Robertson. Someone in Newsnet.scot is clearly not a big fan and so a potential mole for us. Our analysts have spotted his tendency to describe other professors as ‘prominent’ and ‘top’ but Robertson only gets ‘the man who…upset BBC’. My contact in UWS says that Robertson is peeved. Let’s get a crowbar in there!

OK, back to our plain old Prof, and the here and now of broadcast news…

The above might be more imaginative than factual. The last four nights of last week saw slim pickings (a great banjo player, by the way). My audience figures on Newsnet.scot have also dropped, so the Editor has advised me to leave you wanting more (Get on with it. Ed).

So, on the 28th, Reporting Scotland let Labour angrily demand that the Scottish Government ensure Scotland will not be first to be fracked. This was a wee repeat of Jim Murphy’s earlier confused warning that we hadn’t forgotten being f*cked over with the Poll Tax and so wouldn’t appreciate being fracked under either. That Lancashire was fracked under and caused to tremor years ago was again forgotten by the BBC. Also, the newsworthy contradiction between Labour action in Scotland with lack of action in Westminster allowing progress with Cameron’s determination to frack England, was just mentioned and no more. On the 29th, election coverage reminded us that ‘Labour is unlikely to gain power if the SNP do well.’ Are you listening Scottish voters? We’ll hear this one a few times more I’m sure.

By contrast, STV continue to deliver high quality serious news reports. Can you watch STV without a licence? On the 27th an extended piece on fracking was many times more balanced and informative than the Reporting Scotland snippet dominated by Labour sniping. If I knew little about fracking beforehand, the STV piece would have helped considerably while the Reporting Scotland piece would have left me none the wiser. On the 29th, we had another strong piece from STV on the General Election. Again, this was informative and balanced…… as we should expect every single bloody day! These Ponsonbys are clearly a brainy lot.

So it goes (Kurt Vonnegut)

Professor John Robertson, 31st January 2015