What the FTSE?

By Sanao at French Wikipedia (Transferred from fr.wikipedia to Commons.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By Sanao at French Wikipedia (Transferred from fr.wikipedia to Commons.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
I spent a few minutes yesterday responding to the BBC consultation over their charter renewal – this is a good place to do that.

I like and admire the BBC though it has irritated me a bit over how it has treated the Jeremy Corbyn election and the decline of its serious coverage of environment and wildlife issues. Countryfile is not usually worth watching (certainly not for the few good bits), Farming Today is highly biased (with Anna Hill being particularly mindlessly pro-farmer to the exclusion of every other interest, in my humble opinion) and the Today programme rarely does the environment justice and certainly never gives an environment minister a hard time.

But it was a question about universality (yuk!) that made me wander off in uffish thought.  What are the universals that the BBC should deal with?  Well, obviously, they should get some decent jumps racing back on the BBC!

IMG_3623But more seriously, how about the passing of the seasons as a potential subject? We get the weather several times a day on TV and radio but there is no update on the seasons otherwise. Why are we not told when the first snowdrops flower in Kent (and when they are expected further north?). Why is there not a blackberry and sloe report (a good year for both in this neck of the woods (well, hedgerows anyway))?  How about a report on the lateness of the harvest or its size as we travel through late July and August?  First Swallow and Cuckoo and Swift?  And first Redwing and Pinkfoot too?

I mean this semi-seriously.

By Copyright © 2007 David Monniaux (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.0 fr (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/fr/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Copyright © 2007 David Monniaux (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.0 fr (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/fr/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons
I really dislike the fact that we are told the state of the FTSE index several times a day (and its Wall St equivalent too) when the relevance of this to my day is practically zero unless it has zoomed up or down dramatically – in which case mention in the news, if it is newsworthy. There is almost no-one who needs to know the level of the FTSE so often – and those that have such a need can very easily look it up! Leave it out, please. I’d rather know when Spotted Flycatchers are first seen.

And again, I do mean semi-seriously, that the goings on in the countryside, the real world of biology  rather than the pretend world of money, ought to be of universal interest to a much greater extent than the spasms in a man-made index that measures the short-term fears and hopes of a bunch of traders.

The size of the cod catch, the price of milk to farmers, the timber market, the Chicago wheat price and the population index of the Skylark ought to be things that we are told.

What is news these days? Whether a man wears a tie or whether wheat yields and prices are high?

I wonder what sort of year it is for conkers?

Ian Hindmarsh [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Ian Hindmarsh [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
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20 Replies to “What the FTSE?”

  1. Most of us, apart from a lucky and well balanced few, rate our success in life financially. There is increasing evidence that genuine happiness and correspondingly good cardiovascular and mental health is closely related to contact with the natural world. We have tens of thousands of years of evolution where an understanding of the natural world was vital; we have a couple of centuries of trying to adapt to post industrial revolution life. For wellbeing we need to reconnect with the natural world. So I would thoroughly support what you say Mark. I'm rather addicted to the Today programme and find myself starting my days quite depressed. I think we all ought to repeat your ideas, without our tongues in our cheeks. This is a great message.
    (However I suspect we'll be dismissed as loony tree huggers!)

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    1. "genuine happiness and correspondingly good cardiovascular and mental health is closely related to contact with the natural world"

      If only H neanderthalensis had known that they might have lived past forty

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  2. Only 'semi-serious', Mark? Sensible policies for a happier Britain if you ask me.

    I'm usually up around 05:30, when the BBC business news is on. They have some city type on, to discuss the day's events (occasionally complete with red braces). The tone always remind me of the Monty Python merchant banker sketch, who can't understand why he should give money to charity because 'he ends up a pound down on the deal'.

    The 'well fancy that' tone adopted to the reporting of any science news (unless connected with cancer or Alzheimer's) also drives me mad.

    The frustration with news reporting was captured wonderfully by James Robertson in his short monologue "And Now The News Where You Are"...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=edrBBphznfw

    Mind you, if you think British news reporting is bad, I have two words for you. Fox. News.

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  3. Lots of berries of every description and conkers in Kent this year Mark. Thanks for another brilliant post. Always makes me enjoy breakfast more to read your blog!

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  4. Here, here. What a great point. I have been very annoyed by the obsession with the FTSE for years - as you say, just based on the opinions of a bunch of speculators - but the wider point is genius. It might even help shift our societies perspectives about what's really important.

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  5. I do wonder about media peoples interests/intelligence, they must be the reason everything is dumbed down. (well as you point out except for the stock market- where there over inflated salaries are invested). It is always blamed on the viewers.
    As you say countryfile is not worth watching most of the time. But I am sure springwatch and particularly Chris Packham's appeal is that he adds hard science. (I am sure it is not his charisma as my wife and a number of females I know are not impressed). I think the media people underestimate the thirst for knowledge in the population when dealing with their favorite subjects. I mean take all the stats in football, cricket and jump racing!
    Funny radio manages to support good continuous hard facts like Melvin Bragg's "in our time".
    The camera men seem to be wedded to TV as wallpaper with shots of flowers hazed out and blurred when you want to see what they are. The directors seem to think of it as a service to "Gods waiting room" with statements repeated again and again, to fill in time? and clips from hours of filming reused again and again.

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  6. A perfectly sensible idea. Every politician and news editor should take heed. Who needs to know about the FTSE on a daily basis anyway. Probably the same minority of people who go driven grouse shooting! Back to the toffs then.

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    1. "the same minority of people"

      The views of all minorities are held in higher esteem than the rest of us, particularly in the meejar. Today it's the Footsie, yesterday it was World Cocoa Futures and Copper Wire Bars that were essential listening. Today's persecuted minority to whom it matters don't need it on the Beeb at all as all that stuff is available continuously @www or their multi-screened workstations but it does have a crucial Defence role as the Footsie, Sailing By and the Shipping Forecast are all complex coded messages for the Captain of our submarine to tell him whether it is safe to come home or whether he needs to stay out in the Solent and get our missile ready to fire, and at whom.

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    1. Dennis - it's not a great clue really though. It's quite mixed up!

      But my point is the perspective they take. You can talk about farming without being 'farmers are all hard up, all hard working, all wonderful people'.

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    2. You're not wrong Dennis - "Snarking Today" wouldn't be all that popular, I'd guess. What does bother me about FT is its superficiality - but that is true for much of the Beeb output. Time was when there was some point in a farmer listening to it - now it seems its purpose is to supplement CBeebies output.

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      1. 'What does bother me about FT is its superficiality'

        Agreed. Very few, if any, features have any inspiring or in-depth technical content, and it seems as though the producers feel that any feature with an interesting speaker must be counter-balanced by a moaning dullard.

        And whilst I love small family-run farms, I find it terribly helpful to have every freak weather event/soft commodity price depression/(insert this weeks cause célèbre) played out through the perspective of the ever struggling small family-run farm...yawn.

        'supplement CBeebies output' - your doing Mr Bloom a disservice there Filbert!

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  7. What I always wonder with the BBC is what British institution is likely to have more influence in China, our astronomically expensive, shiny new aircraft characters or the BBC world service ? and yes, I do know the answer - the BBC, our universities and our culture (the good bits) are likely to be massively more influential than our armed might (!) and might even shape a better, more civilised world. Hard power isn't going to change the politics and human rights of a country like China, but experience of the best of British freedoms and tolerance (and most of our politicians and our media (Theresa may and the Daily Mail !) don't fit that bill at the moment) just might .

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    1. Well said, Roderick. British governments are usually obsessed with 'punching above our weight' - an increasingly ridiculous idea in relation to military or industrial might but, for all their failings, the BBC and our universities remain examples of where we still do.

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  8. The state of the FTSE and the NYSE is very relevant (altough maybe not on a day to day, minute by minute basis) to anybody not fortunate enough to benefit from a public sector, taxpayer funded or (less usually these days) private sector final salary based pension.

    The problem for professional environmentalists, even though they will be right in the long run, is they have been preaching doom for decades and to the average, urban dweller nothing bad has happened yet. So it's not really surprising most people would rather hear about something they perceive to be more relevant to their lives like house price increases/decreases or NHS "crisis" or the state of the Beckham's marriage.

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    1. Andy - I'm glad that you seem to agree that we don't need the spuriously detailed reporting of the FTSE that is rammed down our throats every day.

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