Libya: Rising above attempts to manipulate the media
Last weekend, journalists from around the world were invited on an escorted tour of Tripoli by the Libyan government.
The government’s aim was to show the world that the capital was quiet and that Colonel Gaddafi was still in control.
The journalists were taken around the region in a convoy of minibuses and shown only the areas that Gaddafi’s government wanted them to see.
Some correspondents, including the BBC’s Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen, then did venture out to witness rebellions on the outskirts of the city for himself.
Then, on Monday, a group of Western reporters including Bowen took part in an interview with Gaddafi himself in a restaurant overlooking the sea.
Gaddafi denied that anti-government protests were happening in the area, and – even when Bowen challenged him - insisted that all the people of Libya still loved him.
So in the face of such contradictory accounts and attempted manipulation of the media - how do reporters on the ground and news producers back at HQ ensure that their reports rise above any deliberate bias?
And, with the increasing use of footage filmed on mobile phones by civilians on the ground, how can news editors ensure that what they’re showing is completely truthful?
On this week's Over To You, I discuss the challenges of balancing the pressures to be first with the news, and maintain editorial independence with the Editor of Newshour, Jon Zilka.
The changes to the World Service which have been the subject of much of your mail, will also spell the expansion of some programmes to fill a new cross-platform remit.
World Have Your Say re-launched its daily 3pm radio edition last month, and will see a new daily midday edition launch from the end of March, but radio is just the start – last month the show debuted on television with the first of a new weekly edition on BBC World News; and, of course, the programme’s online offering is being re-thought too.
I found out how these programme’s editor Mark Sandell and presenter Ros Atkins have set about making these changes.
Meanwhile this week’s inbox received more emails about the end of medium wave broadcasts in Europe, but the conversation has also now moved on to questions of what could be done to save the transmissions.
Here’s a couple of suggestions from listeners. This idea came from from Huw James in the US:
I listen to one hour of the BBC world service on public radio in the US. For this service I donate $10.00 per month to a US public radio station. I listen to the World Service Radio 4, Radio 7 and Radio Wales via the internet on the weekend. For this I would gladly contribute $10.00-$20.00 per month.
And this from Neils Roling in the Netherlands:
I believe people in Europe who need easy access to BBC World are willing to pay at least € 100 per year for the privilege of listening to 648 every day. After all, we pay € 5 for a glossy magazine on which we spend a few hours a month. Before closing it down, please try to make 648 a self-funding proposition.
What do you think? Keep your emails and calls coming.
Rajan Datar is the presenter of Over To You.