Twenty five years ago the world made a promise to children - a promise enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. We promised every child the right to survive and be healthy, the right to an education and the right never to be subjected to violence. Through the use of data, we can tell where and how far those promises are, and are not, being kept and identify what more needs to be done to fulfil them.
I haven't watched Benefit Street. I don't like Poverty Porn, and I understand those who have been exploited by the programme makers are not happy about it. At BHT we get approached from time to time to participate/facilitate such a programme. I was approached by someone a year or so ago, told that the programme would allow claimants to put their own view on being claimants. This overture, like all others, was declined.
"It's our money," said one clipped voice in the back row, "so we should have the right to scrutinise what they do with it." He may have been a single audience member in Sunday's episode of The Big Questions, but this rattled taxpayer summed up everything that is wrong with Benefits Street - the urban zoo that has slammed Channel 4's ratings into high gear.
Davos, as it is commonly called, provides a valuable opportunity for some of the 2,500 delegates to meet at the numerous 'black tie' parties and other lavish events laid on so that they can agree business deals that will add to their personal fortunes. For political leaders it is a chance to hobnob with the 'great and good' and, perhaps, to agree on policies that will garner some votes at the next election.
In many ways, Channel 4 has accomplished something that very rarely happens in the mainstream media. It has managed to create a three way dynamic that forces us to question ourselves. It has asked us to watch ourselves watching the residents of Benefits Street. Now that I can see that, I'm not sure I like what I see.
I find it incredibly sad then that in a world where the powerful get ever more so, those without a voice are increasingly denied any real medium to express themselves in mainstream TV. I'm sure the producers are thrilled with the response to Benefits Street... Whipping up a storm is just what they wanted.