Monday, March 31, 2008

BBC News - Have Their Say?

Kevin Spacey has attacked the BBC for talent shows such as How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? He said that they were "essentially a 13-week promotion for a musical". He makes a good point. The end result is not a BBC performance but a commercial enterprise that has been hyped throughout the show.

But the BBC report of this story has a number of problems. For a start, why is it hidden in the "Entertainment" section with, at the time of writing, no link or mention on the UK or Front Page of the News Site. If the BBC is abusing its position of trust this is more than an "entertainment" issue.

My main issue, though, is with the apparent abuse of the "Have Your Say" system. The BBC a while ago started a forum on its site allowing users to leave their thoughts. Recently the BBC has included a thought from Have Your Say in some of their news articles. This system seems to be abused.

On this article the BBC has a Have Your Say forum running and has a quote from one user, a certain Rob from Leicester. His comment is:

It can be seen as a promotion for a musical, but it can also be seen as decent family entertainment
Now, head over to the actual forum. Rather conveniently the BBC allows you to sort the responses by "readers recommended" to gain some idea of which thoughts people most agree with. Going down the first page not a single response is in support of the BBC. Rob's response is buried on page 39. There are 15 responses to a page which makes Rob's response less popular than 570 responses.

So the question must be asked - is this Rob's opinion or the BBC's. It certainly isn't the popular opinion of the readers. They are all entirely in agreement with Mr Spacey and entirely opposed to the BBC's position. Yet the one single response quoted by the BBC is in support of their position, even though it is more than 570 places down the recommended list.

Is this Your say, or Their say?