Banding Media Bias

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by pixie, Jun 29, 2008.

  1. pixie

    pixie New Member

    Just as the Guardian newspaper is a flagship for Labour's political message, and the Mail in full support of the conservatives, I am becoming increasingly aware of media coverage of the banding movement verging on propaganda in favour of certain bands. This practice seems to be most prevelant on 'the World's most visited brass website'.

    This not only in coverage of contests, but in every aspect of the movement, from which concerts and CD's are reviewed, to the seeming inability to criticise any aspect of these certain band's performances in any way, shape or form, regardless of what actually happens!

    We are forever seeing new partnerships and links between bands and commercial organisations, but is this now over-riding the fundamental idea that each band should be able to expect an unbiased commentary of their efforts to fully jusitfy the work they have put in to playing at their standard?

    If this practice continues amongst individual reporters and reporting companies, people will soon lose the enthusiasm and will to compete, as no matter the final result, this habit of apologising and excusing unexpected results will continue to belittle the achievements of everyone else.

    The whole idea is an old one I would have thought that people in this day and age would be more aware of propaganda now than in the 1940's! No matter who a band is, regardless of heritage, ability, personel or management, reporters are meant to be neutral, and let the public make up their own minds, rather than helping them along the way.
  2. steve butler

    steve butler Active Member

    Ah, but some people don't know their own minds and need a little help.

    But then the rest of us are quite able to make up our own minds and formulate our own opinions. You could say, are they being biased? Or just not agreeing with your opinion?
  3. Mr Piggy

    Mr Piggy New Member

    Well said Pixie!
  4. Morghoven

    Morghoven Member

    Surely not this old chestnut again...Barely a month seems to go by on this forum without someone accusing 4br of bias.

    Please back it up with some proper evidence (not just "they always say Black Dyke played well" or "they publish lots of stuff about Cory" - I'm talking about actual proof of economy with the truth), or leave well alone. Or if it bothers you that much, start your own brass band news website and do it better.
  5. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    Why should they? Do they pay for this service? Do they even want it, in some cases? And who decides what is "unbiased"? Anyway, in the main the commentaries are not for the benefit of the bands themselves, but rather those readers who can't make it to the contest.

    Are you seriously suggesting that bands will start missing contests simply because they're afraid 4BR might not be nice to them? Seems unlikely.

    I've yet to meet a totally neutral reporter. And the public will make up their own minds regardless of what 4BR, or indeed contest adjudicators' opinions might be. Those opinions will be expressed forcefully on here and in the 4BR letters page where they at least have the decency to print critical letters.

    If the 4BR "service" was something we all paid for, or subscribed to, then you might have a valid point - although you'd still have the choice NOT to subscribe. But bitching about a free website that you have chosen to read at no cost to yourself, that has taken considerable investment of time and money to put there, seems churlish. It might carry more weight if you a) identified who you are, b) specified with supporting evidence what your specific gripes are and c) addressed them to Iwan Fox.

    Sorry if my reply seems a little "mardy"; it's late and I get a bit fed up with regular threads bashing 4BR just because their opinion differs from someone else's.
  6. robcav

    robcav Member

    Well said Anno D. If, as Pixie assumes, we should all be fully aware of 'propaganda' then we should also all be given credit for being able to make up our own minds about the articles we read. Take it or leave it. It's extremely naive to suggest that any reporting is or can be totally objective and neutral when discussing an issue as emotive and subjective as music making in the contesting arena. Like it or lump it - and if you don't like it use your 'right to reply' and complain direct. Better still, have a go at submitting your own unbiased reports of a contest or concert performance.
  7. James Yelland

    James Yelland Active Member

    Poppycock. The greatest strength of a free press is that they may say anything they like which is not defamatory or otherwise prevented by law, and we should all defend that right to the hilt. A famous French playwright summed the matter up in the words of one of his fictional characters thus: "I disagree with everything you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it". And he might have added, "and I assert my right to put an alternative view."

    The idea that a band is entitled to an 'unbiased' (whatever that means) assessment of their endeavours seems to emanate from the romantic notion that because bandsmen are all amateurs, we should lay aside our critical faculties and not be nasty about each other (or, as Tom Lehrer once put it, we should drop everything and love one another!) I disagree most strongly with that idea.

    Viva free speech!
  8. pixie

    pixie New Member

    Good to see so many of you have quite strong opinions about this matter. I feel however that most of you are missing the point of this thread.

    When I mentioned 'the World's most visited brass website', this was merely one example, and I was by no means pointing the finger at Iwan Fox and his team.

    Secondly, it's all very well and good saying that 'we are all capable' of makig up our own minds, but if you are not actually in the hall at the contest, you rely on second hand information that is not entirely accurate.

    No matter who the reporter is, he or she will indeed have their 'favourites', and this does show in the retrospectives that they post online, unfortunately there only seems to be one 'favourite' to win most of the time.....and we all know who that usually is - often unjustifiably

    Favours, pleasantries and associations should play no part in it. And if you are actually in 'the know', this is often the case.

    I am not talking from obscurity here, but as a seasoned and well informed observer, I truly believe my case in point. And if your only sources of information are these forums and so forth, you are sadly missing the bigger picture.

    As to the points of making my complaints directly to those involved, I have done and will continue to do so everytime I speak to those people involved.
  9. Will the Sec

    Will the Sec Active Member

    Why not step into the journalistic field yourself, and see how long you can publish your views without being subject to the criticisms you are aiming at others.

    Odds are it'll be before your third outing.....
  10. robcav

    robcav Member

    Come, come, Pixie. Enlighten us please. If you are talking from an enlightened position as a 'seasoned and well informed observer', let's have some specific examples of the extreme bias of which you speak. You may well have a case but, as I tell my A level students, until you support your argument with specific examples, you are unlikely to persuade anyone of the validity of your argument.
  11. James Yelland

    James Yelland Active Member

    Why not? Why shouldn't a writer be free to express whatever he thinks? I refer you to my previous post.

    You do, however, have the kernel of a point in what you have said so far. I acknowledge that you were not referring solely to 4BR, but I do concede that it exhibits rather woolly editorship, in the sense that it does not draw a clear line between reportage and comment. A good example of this, in my opinion, is its recent account of the 'One Voice' conference held by the BFBB in Birmingham.

    Reportage is a factual account of a story, without opinion. Comment allows the writer to express opinion about the story. The divide can be clearly seen in the daily newspapers, which set aside specific pages for opinion (including the editorial, the columnists, and of course, the letters to the editor), and clearly label them as such.

    This is not to say, of course, that reportage cannot be slanted to reflect the writer's (or proprietor's) views. If you want examples of this, you need only compare reports of the same domestic political story in, for example, The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph. Or, indeed, in 4BR's accounts of brass band contests.

    The advice to all readers is clear, and has been iterated by other people in this thread already - don't be credulous about what you read, and if you are unhappy with what is being written, don't read it at all. Or alternatively, write the account yourself.
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2008
  12. ballyhorn

    ballyhorn Member

    I don't think it's biased at just so happens that Cory and Black Dyke are the two best bands in the country along with Grimethorpe at the moment ,so it follows they will be more to the fore in all the reports.
  13. 2nd man down

    2nd man down Moderator Staff Member

    Just what I was thinking. When bands such as these are as good as they are compared to the following bunch, it's hard to pick fault with them when comparisons have to be drawn.
  14. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member


    It's a very different thing to back up an argument with, for example:

    "Their criticism of cleckheaton crotchet crunchers seems overly harsh as the band were clearly going for a lighter, more ethereal musical interpretation of the piece, shown by the cornet work between bars 188 and 213..."

    As opposed to your current argument. Take away the supporting evidence form that and any argument can only be tantamount to:

    "They're all numpties and don't know what they're talking about."

    So help us better understand your case, by throwing us a few specific examples please.
  15. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    You're joking, right?
  16. Al

    Al Member

    In the world of sport motorcycling a magazine might continually extol the virtues of one machine, say Honda Fireblade, over the Suzuki GSX-R.

    In photography we see some magazines biased towards Canon, another towards Nikon or Olypmus.

    I've seen similar complaints to this thread in both these examples.

    Often the bias is only perceived depending on which direction you are looking at the articles ie. which product you prefer or own, or rather - don't own.

    Purely objective reporting is a near impossibility, and would be quite boring anyway.
  17. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    I would agree that it can be difficult to be truly objective. As most of you will know, I try to avoid the contest write-ups as far as possible, as I do not feel suitably qualified to separate all the bands, particularly those in the middle area.

    With concert and cd reviews, I do feel that it is appropriate to include something of a personal view, without which one may just as well simply list the programme played and the players concerned.

    On the question of bias, if anything I tend to feel that expectations are even higher when one of the top bands is taking to the stage, and some tMPers may recall me getting a bit of stick a few years back when I had felt a certain performance fell slightly - and only slightly! - short of that particular band's customary high standard :oops:
  18. DublinBass

    DublinBass Supporting Member

    I agree with PB...everbody always has some background that can bias their opinion of the matter. (most reviewers would admit that)

    That being people want to hear all but compliments from the top 6 bands?...or do they want to knw what the difference between the lot was....or if it is live coverage, what it could be?

    A bit more easy to be objective after the fact than with live coverage, no?
  19. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    Usually I've found it happens the other way round... ;)

    Exactly. Because we all have our own opinion, it's almost impossible to be completely objective about anything - least of all a subject which one is passionate and enthusiastic about.

    Accusations of bias are only justifiable where there is clear and repeated evidence of favouritism, ignoring or dubiously interpreting the facts, or learly leaning toward one perspective without any attempt to examine the other point of view.
  20. LilMissFlugel

    LilMissFlugel Member

    Everyone seems to be saying that you have a right to an opinion, if so then shouldn't pixie be free to have the opinion that the media is bias? It also doesn't seem as though it's derected at 4br in particular, just the media in general.

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