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Cheers - AE

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Response to James

In the comments on the last post about the Beeb's getting Indians and Libyans mixed up James Higham wrote:
Bit like the Beeb's reportage of WTC7 coming down before it did. ;-)
Nope, not a bit like that. Exactly like it. The difference is that I don't assign any more significance to either event than plain fuckuperation on the part of a news service desperate to keep up with or ahead of its rivals and the mug in front of the camera not having the knowledge needed to recognise that what was on the autocue wasn't correct, and as a result reporting something wrong. This happens enough that inevitably wrong reporting will sometimes become right later. The person who put the Indian flag waving "Live from Tripoli" vid on YouTube also believes there's something sinister in it if the "Media Lies" title is any guide, but why would they tell such a stupid and transparent lie? It's just a mistake, nothing more sinister than that. And if it's possible for two experienced journos with uni educations - one of whom supposedly studied Middle East politics for a year - to not recognise that the people on the screen looked a bit sub-continental rather than North African Arabic and are waving the wrong flag then it's entirely possible for another one to say a building's come down without realising that live feed shows it still standing. Would they necessarily know which is Building 7? Probably not, so if someone sticks a piece of paper under their nose saying that Building 7 has fallen down and get it out quick before ITV and Sky they'd see no reason not to go on the air and announce it. That in such a rapidly changing situation and the urgency to cover it in full Chinese Whispers can easily change "this might happen" to "it's likely to happen" to "it's going to happen" to "it'll probably have happened by the time the next news report goes out" to "it has actually happened", even though it hasn't yet, will rarely occur to anyone in time and wouldn't stop them if it did. Report it before the opposition do, retract and correct later if we need to - that's what they'll be thinking.

Of course, this is supposition on my part and journos responsible for reporting daily news might really be as zealous at fact checking as the best investigative types and all the crap that's flung at them from various bits of the blogosphere and elsewhere for slack and lazy journalism is completely undeserved. And maybe Harry Truman stole the 1948 US presidential election.

Because this headline wouldn't have been someone trying to scoop everyone else and just getting it wrong, would it?

Nope, sorry, James, but Hanlon's Razor still wins out for me.
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