Tuesday, 26 April 2011

A ridiculously petty post about the BBC's technology news coverage

Dear BBC: the shittiness of your tech coverage is getting ridiculous…

I love the BBC, and I’ll defend to the hilt from the brain-dead cryptoracists of the Mail and their cronies, but the tech coverage on the BBC news website is really starting to annoy me. Not content to reiterate tech stories roughly two years after they first become relevant unless it is something really like Second Life or Twitter, their coverage of the announcement that Nintendo is working on a new console shows a worrying lack of effort to either research or write it.

The headline declares that “Nintendo announces Wii 2 console” and the very first line claims that “Nintendo has announced it will launch a new version of its Wii console in 2012”.

So far it all seems perfectly simple. Except for the fact that Nintendo hasn’t announced they are making a new Wii.

The actual announcement states that “Nintendo Co., Ltd. Has decided to launch in 2012 a system to succeed the Wii” (emphasis mine). The distinction is important: they haven’t announced a new model of the Wii, or a console bearing the Wii name. They have announced an entirely new console that they intend to succeed the Wii, as the Wii succeeded the Gamecube and the ‘cube succeeded the N64. Although details about the console are currently thin on the ground, rumours suggest that it is extremely un-Wii-ish in nature and is unlikely to share the name (which was, lets face it, a profoundy stupid name).

The BBC story is presenting the new console as an update, in the same way the DSi improved upon the DS or- perhaps more tellingly- in the same manner as Apple updates its products every year. They actually state that “some observers had speculated that the Wii 2 would simply update the existing machine” without actually stating who these anonymous observers were and despite the aforementioned rumours that the next console will not just be a "gimmick" like the Wii.

I know this seems like a petty point- and, in the grand scheme of things, it is- but it just annoys me. It annoys me that Nintendo’s new console is presented as an Apple-esque update without evidence. It annoys me that is called the “Wii 2” even though it hasn’t been named. It annoys me that the “b” in “Xbox” is capitalised despite being used three times in the article, petty as that may sound.

The constant drip-drip of irrelevant, outdated or poorly researched tech articles suggests it is a low priority for the BBC. I can only conclude that whoever they have writing these articles is unfamiliar with the systems they describe or the broader trends in tech news. I know they are facing some pretty stringent cuts, and I know it isn’t the BBC’s job to provide the most in-depth tech coverage. That’s what Wired is far, after all, and its not like there aren’t literally hundreds of blogs and a surfeit of podcasts from which to get the latest videogame news. But I do expect a certain degree of fact checking and accuracy. I’m not a tech expert either, and even I’m noticing the low standard of tech news stories these days. Is it really so hard to believe that no one on the BBC News team plays video games extensively or makes it a point of professionalism to pay attention to game news? I mean, I manage it, and I’m an unemployed history graduate, not a professional journalist!



  1. Sorry, sorry, will get on it...

  2. Thanks for pointing it out, it is now fixed. That'll teach me to write the HTML myself in Word...