WHILE I was away for a short break in Portugal, I heard that BBC Radio Four's Today programme had won a prestigious award for excellence in the broadcast media.

I can't for the life of me think what they've done to deserve this. Any pretension to objectivity in policy is a plain sham. The presenters take the knee-jerk left-wing prejudice on every issue. And they never ask the really penetrating questions. Also, they lack ordinary competence in the English language. For example, they regularly use the word "refute" when they mean "repudiate". For the record, a refutation is a collected set of propositions designed logically to disprove an argument. A repudiation is merely a gainsaying or utterance of personal disagreement.

Nearly every day a presenter will come on and say that something has "risen to a crescendo" - as if "crescendo" means "climax" when actually it simply means a gradual increase in volume. It's no answer to say that these matters are "only words": broadcast and written journalism have words as their stock-in-trade. If they can't get ordinary English usage right, why should we give any credence to their lofty opinions?

the Today presenters have become - to misuse another decent word - "icons", which means that they are allowed to express their opinions all over the magazine sections of the daily newspapers. Some of these opinions are stultifying in their banality. For instance, last week Sarah Montague wrote in a national daily - under the elevating headline, "Sorry Anne, I'm one of those ladies crying in the loo - It is easy to forget that we are just animals." It's not true. If we are "just animals" what business have we in raising questions of profound and even ultimate meaning on the Today programme?

But to open many of our newspapers is enough to make you think you've entered an asylum for the intellectually-challenged. A random selection culled from last weekend's broadsheets makes you weep for the quality of public discourse. Someone wrote 600 words to persuade us that "shopping is not, after all, boring". Someone else wrote this mind-bogglingly pretentious drivel: "I am too, too blissed out to write..." - But she went on writing anyway, blissed out or not .

Someone else wrote about "...the unstoppable rise of the male handbag. All you red-blooded males out there, brace yourselves for the time has come for men to carry bags." Well, swipe me, as Tony Hancock would have said. How interesting can you get? How "unstoppable", even, can you get? This unstoppable trend will probably have stopped come the autumn. The whole stuff is so dumbed down and polluted by the cult of celebrity. The funny thing about celebrities is that so many of us have never heard of them.

I'm not suggesting every page should feature a discourse on the intricate philosophical musings of Artur Schopenhauer or Immanuel Kant. But, for goodness sake, please regard human beings as a bit more than creatures, headpieces filled with straw.

* Peter Mullen is Rector of St Michael's, Cornhill, in the City of London, and Chaplain to the Stock Exchange.