I miss news.bbc.co.uk

According to wikipedia, the term " Churnalism " was first coined by a BBC journalist. I think they may still have journalists working there.

See how many items of product placement you can see in this proud piece of presumably PR-led "pop sci" about smart vending machines . I found it, prominently linked, on the BBC news home page on Boxing Day. The entire notion has a whiff that classic of white elephant puffery from the old school  the internet fridge about it.

I don't know if I'm alone in finding this sort of thing repellant. The motivation to whip up this kind of nearly content-free guff into page length pieces must come from somewhere, which means a degree of specific intent. There's the skeleton of an interesting piece on mechanical learning and commercial interests buried in there somewhere, but I find it difficult to read when I keep being stabbed in the eyes by blatant marketing copy, much of which I uncharitably suspect of being pasted in directly from the source press-release. The focus of the piece ought to be on the science, perhaps some of the biometrics and algorithms supporting the interesting sounding  audience impression metric (AIM) software , but that's given a throwaway mention; instead the article's centre of gravity seems distorted to orbit around some recently launched consumer products, with little depth of story. Weird details leave unanswered questions hanging. In what way is a new Jell-O SKU "Just for adults" to the extent that it requires a screening interview by femputer ? Titillating teaser questions like this are familiar marketing devices used to capture and exploit base curiosity, but seem out of place in a news piece without any resolution. How does the system handle adults whose body shape diverges strongly from their defined four age brackets? What the merry heck is a  general manager of personal solutions anyway?

I gave up counting the product placement incidents after the first couple of paragraphs. Only someone with intimate knowledge of the BBC house style rules would know just how many direct repetitions of the properly capitalized brand names Kraft and Intel are strictly necessary, but there seem to be an awful lot of them littering the piece. There's a lovely Intel i7 box graphic three-quarters of the way down the piece; it seems to me only tangentally related to the story, yet conveniently re-uses the branding iconography supporting their current consumer-targetted CPU line.

Like many a British license-fee payer, I have a peculiar, combative slightly proprietorial relationship with the BBC; being in some weird sense a stake-holder in this unique broadcasting organisation; pride mingles with a misplace sense of ownership, disappointment tangles with admiration. Once upon a time I viewed their web initiatives as exemplary, inspirational and essential. These days they seem increasingly overcooked, irrelevant, and misguided.

I realise, in a sense, I'm a grumpy old man ranting at the telly, but I think this tapering off of content quality provided by BBC online is a real thing. If so, a really worrying trend; added to this we have an effectively Conservative administration, who I'm sure would love to see the BBC, already in retreat, broken up further. Spreading out the more lucrative parts of the special quasi-monopoly, to their chums in commercial broadcasting whilst binning even more of the less lucrative parts in the name of austerity would fit in well with their principles of government.<p>
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