Are you comfortably numb?

Monday, February 26, 2007


I was driving back from the South to Birmingham last night, and on the way I listened to a CD with the John Humphries-Rowan Williams debate on, followed by Radio 4. I won't say much about Williams/Humphries right now, but I did want to highlight the Radio 4 programme 'Feedback'. It's on at 8pm on Sunday nights (as far as I know).

The point of it is to allow listeners to question Radio 4 on why they have presented the news and other shows the way they have, praise what they see as the good aspects and critique the bad. Radio 4 then questions the editorial staff about why they made the decisions the way they did.

The most fascinating part of this, for me, was the section on the news bulletin. Listeners demanded to know why they had led on Sunday morning with the story about the expansion of the congestion charge zone, since, being a diary item, it wasn't technically news. They suggested that the Indian train crash would have been a far better lead story. The editor of the news programme then had to defend this decision.

I found it not only fascinating and stimulating, but immensely reassuring that in an age where society holds a deep mistrust for the media, our publicly owned media corporation is allowing and facilitating this dialogue to occur. Cynicism aside, they were self-scrutinising in a way that encouraged listeners to question their decisions for themselves. I recommend listening to this programme. My auntie told me there is another one on on Sunday mornings, which sounds similar. It certainly guards you against accepting everything the media says unquestioningly, aside from which any discussion on media agenda-setting is always interesting.


  • Feedback is repeated when I drive home from church on Sunday evening.

    My only issue with Feedback is that I don't think I have ever heard the editorial staff say, "Yeah, we think we went a bit too far with that one ..." But at least they hear and respond to the listeners, and Roger Boulton presents the listeners account very straight - "Mr Joseph says that this approach is a form of metrocentricism ..." - even using the phrases from the letter.

    By Blogger Paul (probably - maybe Liz), at 10:30 am  

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