Half-a-Story News Reporting

Yet again I see another example of the Half-a-story news report. This phenomenon has been around for a few years now, and it’s getting worse.

Let’s take the apparently innocuous as an example:

The BBC reports in middle England cheeks flushed mock outrage that :

“?According to the Telegraph, with nine days to go before Christmas Day, York Minster is struggling to find a replacement for the bell ringers it sacked in October.”

This report is from the section http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-the-papers-38336975

which will no doubt disappear without a trace before the day is out.

The link above is to an article which outlines what happened, but leaves out the crucial part of the story “Why?”

The BBC then goes on to report a juicy morsel from the Times:

?The Times says the message is very clear: “If you cross one campanologist, you cross them all.”

Chortle. How terribly erudite. (a Campanologist is a bell-ringer you see, and it’s funny because it’s clever)

This refers to the issues that York is having, and the refusal of other campanologists from Leeds to step into the breach.

If you follow the link to the Times, you can’t read it unless you subscribe to the Times, and presumably had you done that you wouldn’t be reading the BBC about the Times as you would already have read it, unless you use the BBC as a kind of news-filter for the paper or online edition you already read – which is a little convoluted to say the least.

In the part of the page that the BBC links to from the Times, a tantalising clue emerges for the amateur news sleuth:

?”fired by the cathedral this year in a row over child safety.”

Ah! a story emerges from the slapdash new-meeja.

With further digging at the Telegraph, another article http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/10/12/ding-dong-at-the-belfry-as-york-minster-axes-all-its-30-bellring/

“Bellringers, who have performed at the Minster for decades, were left in tears after the Dean and Chapter, its governing body, called an emergency meeting on Tuesday and axed them all.
Officials at the Minster said the move was due to health and safety concerns and a need for the Chapter to take control of the tower back. The previous Tower Captain, who was in charge of the ringers, was not accountable to the Chapter – a situation the body wishes to change by creating a new Head of the Bell Tower role following clashes between the groups.”

Aha! yet more emerges. Removing the emotive, we still don’t know what the clashes are about, but there is a possibility that it is personality based, and that the venerable sledge-hammer of the righteous, the clip-board and day-glo vest is being wheeled out once again to produce a desired outcome.

I do like the fact that it was classed as an emergency though, and Tower Captain sounds awesome.

So what is the news here? As far as the Telegraph is concerned, it’s an opportunity for two lots of headline copy with the words “ding-dong” in it, which let’s face it is only one step away from “bell-end”. For the Times it’s all so terribly amusing that “bell-ringers” (tee-hee!) are upset.

Bats in the belfry – I wouldn’t Dean it necessary, dropped a clanger, going like the clappers(geddit?).

The actual news story here seems to be a power struggle or personality clash with some individuals involving the loss of their past-time due to a petty squabble over “control” and the possibly inappropriate invocation of “‘elf ‘n safety” the result of which could be a discontinuation of several hundred years of tradition (if that sort of thing matters to you)

This isn’t even presented as human interest, as the actual human element is reduced to the phrase “in tears” that old staple of the lazy news report, the only part missing here being the hackneyed “children were left” preceding it.

So if you have a spare half an hour, and the article links are correct and the pages they link to have not been removed by the time you get to them, because hey it’s an outside source and “we are not responsible for ANYTHING anymore”, you may be able to piece together what the news actually is. I still don’t know what the dispute is about, no words from those involved are included, no “a spokesperson said” no telephone calls were made to enquire. This is non-news. It’s half a story, badly written about an issue that may actually matter to some, this is not an excuse for rubbish copy with lousy innuendo.

Leave innuendo to Viz, they are far better and funnier and have been doing it for longer (oo-er).