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Campaigning journalism

So George Alagaih, BBC newsreader, is told by the corporation to stop acting as head of the Fairtrade Foundation, a body that campaigns against free trade and against agricultural development. This is apparently because a series "about food that he will present on BBC Two could provoke doubts about his impartiality".

This presumably refers to the Future of Food programme which went out last night - Douglas Carswell has a brief review here.

Does it strike anyone else that the BBC have got this the wrong way round? Allowing BBC journalists to make programmes about issues on which they are active campaigners would indeed lead to biased programming. But merely demanding that they leave their official posts in those campaigns doesn't change a thing. We now know that George Alagiah is an active campaigner for Fairtrade. Ergo his programme on the subject is still biased, whether he has left his position as patron or not.

It should not be broadcast.


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Reader Comments (7)

It looks like a lot of people thought this was OK for a long time. I wonder who first thought it was improper and how far had the programmes already developed ?

Aug 19, 2009 at 7:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes

I would actually prefer that rather than pretend that journalists are paragons of neutrality we allowed them, in fact encouraged them, to declare their political leanings. At least then there would be little doubt about the media bias.

Aug 19, 2009 at 12:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterTDK

Given the number of journalists that the BBC employ, why choose one whose impartiallity is known to be compromised to make this programme?

Aug 19, 2009 at 4:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterTonyN

I think the BBC have got it the right way round. The aim is to create a biased propaganda piece for Malthusian eco-catastrophe, and Alagiah was used precisely because he supports it, and is therefore willing to whore his journalistic ethics to make it. The problem with being head of fairtrade is that it makes it too obvious what they're up to, and too easy for unbelievers to dismiss.

It's fascinating to read old books like The Ultimate Resource and all the Ehrlich/Holdren/Kissinger nonsense today, written back in the 1970s and 1980s, and realise how history is repeating itself.

I don't see any point in trying to stop it. If they halted some programmes because of 'an appearance of bias', that would give people the impression that the rest of their output wasn't. No, short of closing down the institution entirely, the only hope now is that they get so blatant and so obviously nuts that even the general public start to realise. Far from asking that it not be broadcast, we want more like this, only even worse. But by all means point it out to people.

Aug 19, 2009 at 9:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterPa Annoyed

I watched the programme without knowing about George Alagiah's background (I thought he was just a newsreader). It was apparent that the programme was extremely biased and one-sided. He seemed to want to return us all to being peasant farmers. He interviewed people who only had the view he wished to get over and all weather events were attributed to man-made global warming. Even a farmer in Hampshire (I think it was Hampshire) blamed the dry, warm, cold and wet conditions on global warming. I shan't bother with the rest of the series.

Aug 20, 2009 at 7:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

An article that combines Global Warming, Peak Oil, Organic AND Cuba - biased?

Aug 23, 2009 at 6:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterKit

i think you are jousting at a mirage, a bit.

The BBC are about making entertainment, rather than education. A programme about GM, fertiliser and high yield crops would be boring, and educational. This programme, with its slightly wacky theme, is perfect fodder for chatting about in the pub, and is entertaining; or at least, fairly much like visual wallpaper.

Seen through the perspective of the entertainment/ education dichotomy, allowing alagaih to do the programme is pretty much small beer.


Aug 25, 2009 at 11:32 AM | Unregistered Commenterper

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