Money talks. A lot. In America, when it comes to the media, money screams at the top of its lungs. And the top is where most of our news is being manipulated. Corporate CEOs are managing our news sources so that the information that trickles down to the public is edited and crafted to keep us unaware of the greedy goings on of corporate institutions. General Electric is the second largest conglomerate in America where, safe to say, those CEOs are raking it in. Apparently, in 2010, GE didn’t pay any federal taxes. Zip, nada, zero. What is equally interesting and sickening is that out of all the media groups reporting the story – including The New York Times, ABC, and Fox – NBC made an “editorial decision” not to cover it. GE just happens to own NBC.
In the majority of broadcast journalism there is a battle between the boardroom and the newsroom, and the boardroom always triumphs. Then there is the British Broadcasting Company (BBC). Founded in 1922, the BBC, a publicly funded, unbiased, worldwide broadcasting organization, has grown immensely and is devoted to positively influencing media sources in the UK and around the globe. This isn’t some dope with a blog; this is a legitimate association that is functioning without any proprietor to restrict information they would rather ignore or withhold. While we are being treated like jackasses, the BBC solves the conundrum of a free press. The UK has created and supported this longstanding company that seems to speak from a place of trust and awareness for the nation it represents as well as the world it inhabits.
So why is this unbiased method of reporting the news not a pervasive model? How can one capitalist society that provides news coverage separated from the push and pull of big businesses not influence others? Why aren’t Americans demanding this? The UK proves that it is possible for news to be factual without political opinions twisting the truth around. To put it bluntly, there are three dimensions of media coverage: the liberal truth, the republican truth, and the facts. The American community is critical of our own news groups and the lack of impartiality, so how can we do something to change that? No matter what political party you associate with, it is completely understandable not to want the biases of another political party oozing its way into the information you receive on the television, radio, newspapers, or web. This is what the BBC has accomplished, and it is what the rest of the world should be emulating.
The BBC motto reads, “Nation shall speak unto Nation.” Through the public’s purchase of television licenses, the BBC is supported by the people and is driven to promote the education of its citizens specifically stated within the organization’s mission statement. There is a responsibility and greater purpose involved with the BBC that sharply contrasts the corporate driven think-tank influenced media in other parts of the globe (::cough:: Fox News). This is not an institution driven by profits. Each household that owns a television decides whether they wish to pay £145.50 for regular programming or £49.50 for black and white. Institutions such as hospitals and nursing homes are able to negotiate with the licensing agency so as not to be charged per resident. Those fees are set by the British government and approved by Parliament and they are 100 percent optional. Additional funds come from subsidiary production and commercial companies. The attitude the BBC has towards broadcasting is thoughtful and intelligent. Referring to the broadcasting experience as “social capital” that creates community when individuals tune in expresses interest in neither ratings nor funding and shows that consumerism has nothing to do with their purpose. There are no limits to the amount of viewers when it comes to media and that is a public good. Public intervention is valuable to the BBC, as it should be to all news corporations. Public intervention is necessary in a free society. When our news corporations are preventing public intervention, a free press cannot exist.
America, on the other hand, relies almost entirely on commercial broadcasting. We are allowing corporations to run our lives and to categorize celebrity trials and tribulations as news. This is not to say journalism in the United States isn’t honorable. We have journalists putting their safety at risk in the middle of war zones and we depend on their strengths to provide us with knowledge of events occurring outside our comfort zone. This is also not to say that the UK doesn’t have its fair share of tabloids. The difference here is that those tabloids and gossip aren’t tainting the legitimacy of actual news coverage.
Perhaps the fact that the BBC’s mission statement and its Royal Charter both provide a code of ethics appeals to each citizen involved in news reporting in the UK. Those who are supplying information are aware of how they themselves would like to be informed. There is no cash prize for ratings; the salary for the BBC is guaranteed through its public funding. The BBC has even gone so far as to establish a new entity: a college of journalism with an internal training website dedicated to spreading ethics of journalism to journalists in Britain and elsewhere.
In our country, the true journalists risking their lives aren’t those on the seven o’clock news. The journalists getting mainstream acclaim are reporting on Lindsay Lohan’s court hearings and the latest Sheen viral video. Corporations steering the American media ship want to entertain, and easily forget honesty or relevancy. Entertainment television and news circulation have become merged into a metamorphosis of reality and fantasy.
The ethics that the BBC upholds are the key to their accomplishments as a reputable group. There should be no secrets when it comes to world news. Opinions should be left at home or kept to those programs plainly advertising the use of opinion to discuss topics. Discussion of events, political and economic trends. etc. is not the same as reporting on elections, wars, and everyday information that mold our internal thought processes. It is irresponsible to cover only half of the story; journalists and newscasters should allow the public to come to their own conclusions without muddling the airwaves.