Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Journalistic standards

Following on from my post about the licence fee etc. in a previous post, I have found another reason to criticise the BBC - this article.

Here's an example of why that piece was badly put together:
"A 2005 study showed that an increase of 10 mobile phones per 100 people could increase GDP growth by 0.6%."
This was a study from two years ago. The information might be accurate, but wouldn't it be better if the journalist used a more recent reference? If there's no study covering this from 2006 or this year, go and look for another type of source. Also, what is this study called and who did it? It's common (and required) practice in universities and many other places to cite your references properly. You would think that someone from an organisation such as the BBC would know that you do that to prove the reliability of the information.

Ok, next point:
"Nearly half a million people, described by the UN as "the poorest of the poor", will soon be able to make mobile calls."
"It is hoped that the connections will help improve healthcare and education, as well as boosting the local economy."
The UN thinks that mobile in Africa would help solve problems such as healthcare and education? I can see that it would help if you need to contact the emergency services and you're in the middle of nowhere, but surely the most important things would be to improve training, build more hospitals, provide medical instruments and increase the provision of effective drugs. Mobile/Cellphones cannot improve those three things. As for education, the important things must be books and other reference resources, plus training for teachers.

Another interesting thing is that I can find no other coverage of this story on any other the other major news websites (e.g. CNN, Reuters) or after looking through the results on several search engines (e.g. Google, Live Search, Yahoo, Mahalo). I found nothing on Technorati or del.icio.us either. That might just mean that the BBC is way ahead of the competition on this story, but it's also likely that nobody else finds this newsworthy.

There is little or no balance to this article either. You can read plenty of positives and other assorted information about the project, but their is no criticism anywhere. There are no quotes from anybody saying things like 'this aspect of the Millennium Villages project is a waste of time and money'.

Anyway, there are some positives to the project. It is another way of improving the resources for the poorest people and mobile/cellphones can be useful when there is no-one else nearby who can help - but that is all.

This is just one article by one of their journalists too. It is not representative of the entire corporation. However, there should be efforts to prevent low quality articles such as this from being submitted to the website.

So, what do you think?

Technorati tags: BBC, Journalism, Mobile Phones, Cellphones,