Absence of Quality
Posted by aogMonday, 17 December 2007 at 19:51 TrackBack Ping URL

It’s time to reach back for this story (via BotW). The essence is that the BBC spent £500,000 on direct costs and another £500,000 on staff time in order to train their staff to not lie to viewers.

Well, that’s not strictly true. The BBC actually tried to train them to “where the line should be drawn between artifice and deception”. So, really to not lie overly much. Just keep it to artifice and not outright deception. There are so many levels here I could probably spend a week on this one story. To start with, did the BBC think this training useful, or was it just ploy to make it look like they’d like their staff to lie a bit less? Was there any introspection about how the management created an organization needing to be told “don’t piss in the product”? Did they wonder about how they’d treat any other business that provided products of such dodgy quality? Did management think of this as essentially the same as one of those diversity seminars, in which the staff learns that those apparently ignorant, uneducated proles should not be thought of as barbaric louts, but instead to have a culture that values objective reality? Did the staff take it earnestly, or was it just an opportunity to smirk knowingly at such quaint customs? Perhaps some indignance at being “oppressed” by standards created by dead white males was encountered.

But of all of those, the product issue resonates the most with me. The BBC’s product is information. Deception is shoddiness in that regard, an adulteration. And it’s worse than just shoddiness — it’s as if a manufacturer’s staff deliberately put sawdust in the spaghetti sauce. Imagine what the BBC would say about that. But when the BBC does it, that’s just business as usual, nothing to report.

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