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Dropping the pilot

The broadcast media no longer see it as their duty to provide society with moral guidance. But as this book shows, many people miss the presence of a "pilot." Perhaps Mary Whitehouse had a point after all

By John Lloyd   February 2008

Media and Values by David E Morrison, Matthew Kieran, Michael Svennevig and Sarah Ventress Intellect Books, £29.95

The BBC was founded by John Reith as a kind of “pilot service” through the moral, social and political shoals of early 20th-century Britain (the observation was that of the sociologist Tom Burns). It’s the conclusion of this capacious and exhilarating book that in the past eight decades, we have dropped the pilot—and we have dropped him without thought of the treacherous nature of these shoals, and our inability to navigate them unaided. We are like Milton’s hungry sheep, which “look up, and…

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