Thursday, 6 August 2009

BBC London News

As we know, BBC London News does not regard the regular monthly killing of a London cyclist by a lorry driver as in any way newsworthy. Every single lorry-cyclist killing in London in 2008 and 2009 was ignored by the most lavishly funded news organisation in Britain.

If you write and complain you’ll get an evasive response showering you with details of general BBC stories about cyclists, none of which have any relevance to the specific output of BBC London News. Which, when it does focus on cycling, zooms in on crap like this.

You will also be pompously informed that BBC News is not a journal of record.

And yet that’s exactly what news is. A record of daily events regarded as significant and important. And our news media are obsessed with violence. Except on the roads. Even though deaths on the roads vastly outnumber deaths from terrorism or knife-wielding hoodies.

The striking thing about BBC London News is that the journalists who concoct it are obsessed about car parking stories and utterly indifferent to cycling deaths. Why is that? Three reasons, I think. Firstly, it’s partly that the BBC is the echo chamber of power. What the government decrees is important is therefore important to the BBC. And the government is not particularly concerned about road fatalities (although it would be fair to say that no matter how crap the Labour Party is, it is nevertheless more progressive on roads than either the deranged car supremacist Tories or the wibbly-wobbly maverick Liberal Democrats). Let us not forget that in the run up to the invasion of Iraq, 90 per cent of BBC News coverage was devoted to the notion that Weapons of Mass Destruction really existed in Iraq, and posed a serious threat to our way of life.

But leaving aside the BBC’s obvious desire to ingratiate itself with whatever political party happens to be in power, why is BBC London News so contemptuous of cycling fatalities?

I suppose secondly it’s the pernicious and toxic influence that road crashes are just “accidents”. They can’t be helped. They are like bad weather, or somebody getting cancer. If you remove the human agency involved you sanitise them.

Thirdly, and most importantly, BBC London News journalists are car drivers. None of them cycle to work. Nothing else can explain their obsession with the most trivial of car parking stories. Like this, say, or this