image courtesy Wiki Commons

Outrage at The Woman's Hour on BBC Radio 4

Posted July 19, 2016
Share To

This morning I have been listening to The Woman's Hour on BBC Radio 4.

First, let me say that I love The BBC, particularly Radio 4, and that I was once a guest on The Woman's Hour.

That having been said, the whole notion of a 'Womans' Hour' is a bit archaic today, particularly with Theresa May as the new Prime Minister - the daily headlines are now The Woman's Hour.

The Woman's Hour is really a remnant of a different time, both at The BBC, in journalism and in the world in general.  In the US as in the UK, there also used to be a Woman's Page in the newspaper - you know, fashion, recipes, that kind of stuff.  Generally, these were reported by women... more or less.

The Woman's Hour on The BBC was launched in 1946 and it was hosted by Alan Ivimey, a man! (As I said, archaic).  

Today it is hosted by Jane Garvey. 

On January 1, 2005, the show was changed to The Man's Hour, but only for one day.  There was really no need to create a 'Man's Hour', as men pretty much dominated (and continue to dominate) the other 23 hours on The BBC).  

At last count (in 2013), the show had 3.9 million listeners (which is pretty good for the UK), 44% of whom were, in fact, men. (So I don't feel like am alone).

At any rate, today's topic of discussion was 'Live Streaming' of video - so I paid particularly close attention to the chat.

Jane Garvey and the guests all seemed to be a) astonished that this kind of thing was going on and b) fretting over what the implications were.  I think the focus had been the live streaming of the shooting death of Philando Castille, shot by officer Jeronimo Yanez, and live streamed on Facebook by Castille's girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds.

Once the topic was opened, however, there were other examples of a suicide that had been live streamed as well as a couple having sex that was live streamed.  

Anxiety abounded.

Who would control this stuff?  The companies like Periscope (does anyone still view stuff on Periscope?), Facebook, or the government?

Their concern was that anyone could now live stream anything any time they wanted to the world.

This was, in a way, kind of funny.

Here they were, a few people, 'live streaming' their audio conversation to the world at will, except over The BBC.

Who, I might ask, as this is the election season, elected them to do it? Was the public asked who might get access to this increcrible power to share your thoughts with the rest of the planet?

No one, is the answer.

They were annointed by The BBC (or at least Jane was. The rest were invited by Jane's producer).   But... talk about chutzpah (as we often say in the UK).

They were quite content and smug in their position of 'live streamer', but shocked (shocked!) that now anyone (anyone!) might have the temerity to try and horn in on what, until now, had been their private and well protected domain - their monoploy, on access to the forum of public discourse. 

Of all the nerve!  (And clearly quite dangerous...)

Well, like I always say, journalists are always the loudest defenders of the concept of a Free Press, at least until they are actually confronted with one.

And now they are.

Now, for the first time, the power that used to reside solely in corporations like The BBC or NBC or CNN - the power to inform the rest of us - is now in (gulp) everyone's hands.


And that is a very frighening prospect to those who used to sit at the top of the media heap and preach to the rest of us from their electronic pulpits.

Now, the peasants have taken to the streets and they have seized the TV station!  

It's an outrage.



Recent Posts

Bad News, Good News
June 17, 2024

The old news mantra — if it bleeds, it leads has been replaced by if it’s gross, adios. The prospect of a news-free electorate is terrifying.

The news business is in trouble. In the past decade, more than 2400 local newspapers have closed. NBC Nightly News gets 5 million viewers per night, in a nation of 340 million people, so most people are not watching. What are they watching? Netflix.

For most of human history, people lived in a world without news. The concept simply did not exist. The idea of news is really a 19th-century phenomenon, driven first by newspapers, and then by electronic media which brought us radio, then TV and now the web. Now, it seems, we are headed back to a world without news. Not because the technology is not there, but rather because, increasingly, people are no longer interested in news, at least in the way it is packaged now.

Share Page on: