Nick Cohen on the BBC and the crisis in journalism

Writing in Standpoint, a monthly magazine of culture and politics published by the right-leaning Social Affairs Unit, Observer columnist Nick Cohen argues that the BBC is in the same rickety boat as the rest of the media.

BBC journalists are indeed in the same sinking ship as the rest of us, but the quality of BBC journalism remains relatively high, and we should acknowledge this and be thankful for it.

Elsewhere – and that includes the broadsheets for which Nick writes – proper journalism is being replaced with often ill-informed opinion and expressions of middle-class neuroses. There are a few decent columnists, among whom I count our friend Mr Cohen, but comment is cheap.

Nick talks about the BBC using public money to weaken newspapers, and I take it he’s referring here to the now shelved plans to launch a network of local video-based websites. Along with the National Union of Journalists, I’m not convinced that the BBC is at fault here. Local newspapers have been failing for some time now, and the rot set in long before the current economic crisis. One shouldn’t damn the BBC for being creative.

To be honest, I care little whether the medium is based on cellulose pulp or digital bits and bytes; it’s the message that matters. Where is the information content?