Political Promise

Ju Shardlow On… The Beeb’s Political Blogging

In Ju Shardlow on April 27, 2010 at 3:21 pm

Reams of laughter in the staff room this week at the BBC website’s efforts to cover the UK election. Sigh, the corporation does so well when it sticks to sensible fact from the few seasoned campaign-followers like John Sopel and Tim Donovan. Nick Robinson’s excellent ‘Newslog’ is a joy to read. For a man with all the onscreen presence of an unmarked ballot paper, his blog is uppity, quizzical and sensibly selective. With an average of 500 comments per article, Robinsons mixture of selective opinion and simply ‘trailing the events’ provokes incisive chat from people who actually know what the issues are.

Carefully cloaked satire is all fair in blogging love and war. Without it, most of the coverage would return to the hopeless bland updates the BBC would eschew on election night or ‘summarizing’ online video simulations that “don’t seem to be working, please try again later”. Honourable mention here to Peter Snow, whose ability to turn fact into computer-generated whimsical faffing demonstrates exactly this. You begin to ironically look forward to his “broadcasts” yet can’t really knock his factual integrity.

I find the line between acceptable and unacceptable personal input comes in writing style. On the whole, the seasoned commentators with wry smiles and media glasses get the balance right. Whoever edits the ‘election live’ stream does not. It’s written with an awkward friendliness that suggests you’ve just joined them for a quick cuppa. “Sorry to harp on about hung parliaments…”Well, it’s your blog, do what you want. Sigh again.

This isn’t helped by the cringe worthy intermingling of the ‘Have your say’ updates. Surely commissioning a Mitchell and Webb sketch about how unpopular this feature is ( “and if you’ve got an opinion, why not write in to us”- classic) would have taught the Beeb to leave it out of threads. Especially considering that someone reading a snappy live-stream is likely to be slightly impatient and therefore irritable.  But no, apparently they deem to appropriate to couple exciting, important election events with the fact that at 20.10 Yvonne Connell from Bexleyheath felt “Ignored and disenfranchised”.

If shoving all this content into one feed is just lazy and annoying, god knows what Laura Kuenssberg is. Actually I know. One of the most vacuous tweeters of all time:  “Second time Brown accuses Clegg of being anti-American”. That is if she’s not getting information hilariously wrong “’My mistake – apols, 4 million people watched the debate live last night”.

So Beeb, you’ve got your ups and downs this year as far as online content goes. It’s mainly down, so why not employ some more sensible people instead of relying on us (or idiots) to give you the news for free?

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  1. Mark Easton deserves praise – I can’t fault a single one of his blogs so far.

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