How did the BBC represent the general strike to its listeners? Introduction This project is primarily a study regarding one of the biggest events in the life time of the BBC and indeed the life of British trade unionism. The General Strike of 1926 has moulded the way that we see both of these today and is an important aspect of British history. This project principally focuses on the media at the time, and will seek to find out how the BBC portrayed the General Strike to its listeners during this period. We will find out the attitude that the BBC took on the events of the General Strike and will find out how it put these across to its listeners at that point. In order to find out the answer to this question we must first split it up in to several important chapters. Below is the list of chapters and the subjects that they will discuss and their importance in this study.
Chapter one will outline who the BBC listeners were at that point and will find out whether the general strike had changed who their listeners were. It will go back to the very roots of the BBC and will look at the programming that it provided and how this affected the listeners that they had gained. This section will also explore the idea of 'constructing the listener” an idea put forward by Reith to determine who his listeners were. It will then look at their listeners during the general strike and will seek to find out the change that occurred during this point in time. This also requires us to look at the staff that worked at the BBC and also at Sir John Reith, who had his own ideas about the standards that the BBC should work towards.
Chapter two will discuss the ideology of the BBC prior to the general strike and how this ideology impacted on their reporting of the general strike. It will look at how Sir John Reith
put his ideas in to the BBC. We will explore the idea of a public service and what a public service meant to Reith, mainly looking at what Reith's ideas of the term 'service' were. It will explore the BBC's want to maintain its independence and why this was so important to Reith. We will also discuss the threat that was posed to their in independence during the strike. It will also look at the idea of “educate, inform and entertain”, an integral part of what we now know as the 'Reithian ethos'. We will see whether the general strike changed these core beliefs of Reith's or whether they remained intact throughout the period of the strike. It will also discuss the idea of social unity, another one of the core beliefs of the BBC. We will seek to find out how much nationalism was a part of this and whether the BBC could have been seen as being nationalist during the strike. This chapter will attempt to show us how this ideology affected the broadcasts to their audience and how the audience saw the BBC. These first two chapters will play an integral part in the rest of the project , however to understand them both we need to look at them in their separate chapters. Once we have done this we can then look at how they affected each other . These will form the basis from which will then be able to view the BBC and the general strike in detail.
Chapter three will allow us to assess the other forms of media that were available at that time. This chapter will look at the newspapers at the time of the general strike; we will mainly assess the two national papers at the time, the British Gazette and the Daily Worker. It will look at the effect that the general strike had on the papers and how the freedom of the press was so greatly affected by the printers going out on strike. This will link in with the way that the BBC listeners changed during this time as the lack of newspapers left a hole in the media, which the BBC hoped that it could fill. We will also
take a look at how the BBC monopoly over the news at this time affected the way that they broadcast. This is important because they put the BBC in to a pivotal, yet...
Bibliography: Primary Sources Broadcasting Press Cuttings, Book 1E, BBC Written Archive Caversham General Strike news bulletin, May 8th 1926, BBC Written Archive, Caversham General Strike news bulletin, May 9th 1926, BBC Written Archive, Caversham General Strike news bulletin, May 12th 1926, BBC Written Archive, Caversham http://www.museumoftechnology.org.uk/expand.php key=368 http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons/lib/research/rp2008/rp08-012.pdf The British Worker, May 5th 1926, British Library Newspaper Archive, Colindale The British Worker, May 6th 1926, British Library Newspapers Archive, Colindale The British Worker, May 11h 1926, British Library Newspaper Archive, Colindale The British Gazette, May 6th 1926, British Library Newspaper Archive, Colindale The British Gazette, May 7h 1926, British Library Newspaper Archive, Colindale The British Gazette, May 8h 1926, British Library Newspaper Archive, Colindale The British Gazette, May 12h 1926, British Library Newspaper Archive, Colindale
Secondary sources Briggs, Asa, The History of Broadcasting in the United Kingdom: The Birth of Broadcasting (Oxford University Press, 1995)
Cardiff, David & Paddy Scannell, A social History of British Broadcasting: Volume one 1922-1939 (Basil Blackwell Ltd, 1991) Crisell, Andrew, An Introductory History to British Broadcasting (Routledge, 199 Florey, RA, The General Strike of 1926: Historical Perspectives (John Calder Ltd, 1980) Jerusalem Hymn, http://www.hymns.me.uk/jerusalem-hymn.htm Leismann, Marista, Reith of the BBC: My Father (St Andrews Press, 2006) Perkins, Anne, A very British Strike 3rd May-12th May 1926 (Macmillan, 2006) Reith, John, Into the Wind (Hodder and Stoughton, 1949) Symons, Julian, The General Strike (House of Stratus, 2001) Taaffe, Peter, The General Strike; Workers Taste Power (Socialist Publications, 2006)
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