Tuesday, 21 April 2009

The media strikes again

The Times reports that English Heritage has been subjected to a fly-on-the-wall documentary. As usual, the documentary was squeezed into the mould of a particular narrative structure:
The British television viewer is now addicted to the narrative arc of building programmes: man has dream; man starts work; man is thwarted by human or natural disaster; build goes over budget; build is a year late; man is disillusioned; extra dosh is found; build is miraculously finished!

Actually I expect the British viewer is thoroughly bored of this narrative arc, but we don't get asked.

The article further complains that they spent 7 million pounds on the purchase and re-roofing of a Jacobean mansion. It does have the decency to point out that this is a mere drop in the ocean compared to the billions spent on bailing out the banks. But it's also a mere drop in the ocean compared to the millions wasted on the Olympics by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (of which English Heritage forms a part). The Olympics have never been demonstrated to have any long-term benefits whatsoever, whereas saving our heritage can have lots of benefits — for example, community engagement with the local heritage, as has happened at Tyntesfield and other National Trust properties.

And given the fact that the government is planning to cut pay in the public sector, uttering cries of "the public sector is wasting our money" seem a bit like kicking a man when he's down.

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