Bullshit detection: Michael Jackson vs. BBC expenses

Interesting stat: the has BBC received 748 complaints about its allegedly excessive coverage of Michael Jackson’s death.

According to a BBC source quoted by the Guardian, that’s ’10 to 15 times’the number of complaints that the Corporation received about its directors’ expenses, which were published last week.

Of course, this is an apples and oranges comparison. It’s as dodgy as the PR-inspired ‘surveys’that Ben Goldacre takes apart for fun.

Both stories generated plenty of emotionally-charged coverage, but the news of Michael Jackson’s death was far larger in terms of its impact, and therefore likely to generate more reaction.

It’s also true that complaints about the BBC’s corporate behaviour are rather different from complaints about the BBC’s editorial stance.

That said, it’s worth recalling the sheer aggression with which the Times, the Daily Mail, the Sun and the Telegraph laid into the BBC last week. No prisoners were taken.

Presumably, the BBC’s top brass would like us to understand that the bullshit detector wielded by the British public remains finely-calibrated and highly discriminating. Let’s hope they’re right about that.

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