The lack of "really different" viewpoints in TV "news"
has been noticeable to me since I started reading books. My opinion
on why this is has changed since I started Anxiety Culture
back in 1995. Almost immediately (this was before the internet
took off I published zines), I began to get requests for
interviews (my first was for BBC Radio Wales later I was
interviewed by the style mag, Face, and by the Independent,
Channel 4, etc).
After the internet came along (after I created a few websites)
the requests for interviews (and articles for magazines, etc)
came even more frequently. BBC2 Newsnight have asked me on a number
of occasions to appear, and BBC Radio 4 and Radio Five Live regularly
want me to contribute.
But I turn the vast majority down as they are always at impossibly
short notice. For example, the following is a typical example
of what turns up in my email inbox:
Hello there - I'm trying to get in touch with
Brian Dean about a possible interview on BBC Radio Five Live's
breakfast programme tomorrow - about crime and the coverage
in the newspapers over the past few days.
The newsdesk number here is 0208 624 9501
BBC Radio Five Live, Breakfast
Even though I check my emails daily, by the time I read this,
the breakfast programme in question had already been broadcast.
It would be different if one were a professional pundit, employed,
say, by the Institute of Directors (IoD) to respond to
any news story which revealed the dire situation for most workers
in the UK (long hours, low pay) you'd be ready (since it's
your job) to respond instantly to every request for an interview.
(Ruth Lea, the former IoD spokesperson, used to turn up on virtually
every TV and radio debate about job-related issues, always
well-equipped with factoids to defend to big business. Prior to
working for IoD, she was the Economics Editor at ITN and Chief
Economist at Mitsubishi Bank).
I think this is one of the main reasons why "establishment"
views dominate in media such as the BBC. Dissenters, heretics,
anti-corporate campaigners, awkward types and people with other
strange views rarely get paid to "join in" the
"media debate". They have to pay their bills in other
ways, usually leaving little time for the luxury of dropping everything
to appear on Newsnight at a moment's notice. But from my experience
(and that of others I speak to), they do frequently get asked