The Today programme claims to set the news agenda for Radio 4 each day. Well, it certainly tries its best, and its own agenda is often plain to hear.
The Sky News website publishes an invaluable daily gallery of the UK newspaper front pages. Which of the lead stories found there today were ignored by the Today programme’s paper reviews?
Well, besides some tabloid gossip about Posh and Becks, two leads were conspicuous by their absence from any of the programme’s three slots (at 6.12, 6.40 & 7.40).
The first was the Times‘s ‘ I won’t be rushed out of Afghanistan – Petraeus’. Above the article is a photo of laughing, open-faced Afghan girls under the banner ‘Exultant: faces of freedom in a war-torn land’. Why would the defeatist, anti-this-war Today programme choose to completely ignore this lead story?
The presenters did have time to mention the Independent and the Guardian‘s take on Bob Woodward’s new book on the Obama administration’s Afghan squabbles, with John Humphrys reading out a paean to Mr Woodward.
It’s even easier to guess why they ignored the other lead – an immigration story from the Express – ‘How migrants snatched our homes’, concerning a group of Lithuanian squatters “terrorising part of east London“.
The angle taken by the Telegraph and Mail regarding the speech on anti-social behaviour by Denis O’Connor, the Chief Inspector of Constabulary – ‘Police give up the fight as yobs take over’ and ‘Police: We have let yobs rule streets’ – was mentioned by the presenters, but how did the Today website, which also made it its lead story, choose to angle the subject?: “The Chief Inspector of Constabulary says that police efforts to tackle anti-social behaviour in England and Wales must not suffer because of spending cuts.” Ah yes, budget cuts!
“Our job is to ensure we remain absolutely impartial and present the facts to our audiences – without following any agendas,” said Helen Boaden, director of BBC news. Really?