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Appropriate language

Sinead Rocks | 13:19 UK time, Thursday, 13 September 2007

There's been much discussion of Newsround on the internet this week, at least in America, after The Drudge Report website linked to an old story of ours about 9/11. The piece, entitled 'Why did they do it', prompted a flurry of complaints accusing us of anti-American bias.

Newsround logoIt was clear that the majority of people had clicked through to a story that had been written almost six years ago, had our old style graphics, and should not have been available on the site - we had replaced it with a newer version some time ago, but somehow the original version mistakenly remained on the servers. As such, I took the page down and sent emails of apology to everyone who had contacted us, pointing out our error and that it had never been our intention to offend. As a BBC site, Newsround's core values include impartiality and objectivity and when something goes wrong, we hold our hands up to it.

It later transpired that some blogs were actually objecting to the newer version of this guide (which you can find here) to the events of September 11th and my apology was interpreted as being about this. That is not the case. Both pieces had the same title and the newer story still contains a section that attempts to explain why the attack on America happened - and herein lies the problem.

It seems that several websites see it as an attempt by us to 'justify' the events of that day. This is obviously not the case. We feel it is entirely legitimate to question the motives of the people who carried out the attacks. It's worth remembering that Newsround is aimed at six to 12 year olds and our contact with our audience has shown that their understanding is helped by events being put into some kind of context. We often have to translate complex and emotive issues into language appropriate for children. It's a responsibility we take very seriously. The old version of the guide won't be making a return to our site - but we stand by the more recent version.

UPDATE: Thanks for your comments - I've replied here and here.

Comments

  • 1.
  • At 01:36 PM on 13 Sep 2007,
  • DH wrote:

CBBC - indoctrinating our kids with Anti Americanism.

Start 'em young eh?

  • 2.
  • At 01:42 PM on 13 Sep 2007,
  • Bedd Gelert wrote:

I can't believe you feel it necessary to respond to right-wing tosh like the 'Drudge Report', but then if the Guardian feeds his ego by getting him to speak at Edinburgh what does one expect?

  • 3.
  • At 01:55 PM on 13 Sep 2007,
  • Don wrote:

How can you stand by your current explaination? It still says it was America's fault. If this is the sanitised version I dread to think what the original was like.

I did not see the words 'murder' or 'terrorism' mentioned at all in your explaination.

You are completely out of control.

  • 4.
  • At 02:15 PM on 13 Sep 2007,
  • Xie_Ming wrote:

The suppression of unwanted views is a major effort of those who live with one-sided ideologies.

The proper response is to reemphasize and amplify the material objected to.

This will serve truth and may help to educate both those who would suppress facts and the general public.


Sinead, your response to recent complaints about CBBC Newsround's 9/11 'Guide' is far from adequate.

There are a number of questions about CBBC's coverage and your response that I've asked about at Biased BBC (see here, here and here for specific posts, including the original content of your CBBC pages).

I emailed you last night to alert you to my blog post and these questions about your respoonse, and invited you to give a full, honest and public account about when these pages were really written, when they were really last updated and when they were really last reviewed, and to explain, if they were supposed to have been purged from your system, when was that supposed to have happened, and who's at fault for Newsrounds's failure to purge the pages.

Unfortunately, it seems that you're trying to fob off tellytaxpaying parents again without giving us a full and proper explanation.

Even more curiously, having retrieved the original guide on 11SEP2007, watched it disappear on 12SEP2007 (page not found) to reappear as a sanitised single page version, it now seems today that the 11SEP2007 guide version is back online (compare with versions retrieved from Google's cache at Biased BBC) - or is it still not fully purged from your systems (even though the timestamps have been updated to say 12SEP2007)?

What gives?

  • 6.
  • At 02:46 PM on 13 Sep 2007,
  • ale bro wrote:

newsround's description of al qaida as "militant islamist" rather than "terrorist" says it all.

Okay, I can see why that new guide has upset people.

The problem is that you have written as "fact" just one argument of many.

The way it is written leads the reader to believe that America did something bad first, and then Al Queda reacted to this by doing something back.

However, there are also arguments (justified by earlier Al Queda attacks) that say that extreme Islamists just want to see America dead, and if they can do that by killing innocents, all the better.

Now either or both arguments could be wrong (and there are many others), but in a bid to keep things simple, you have addressed just one side.

When the attacks happened our kids were right in the middle of the age group. I had no difficulty of saying what had happened and explaining that the reasons behind it would be complex and argued over for many years.

Perhaps you need to be just a little more complicated!

  • 8.
  • At 03:02 PM on 13 Sep 2007,
  • Joss Sanglier wrote:

Sorry, just one other thing to BBC editorial staff in general. I keep finding references to "Biased BBC".

Why does the BBC find it necessary to be concerned with this little Auntie Kicking site?

It seems as unimportant as my offerings and the posts are little more than unreasoned rants.

I do hope editors at the Beeb really are not taking it too seriously!

  • 9.
  • At 03:06 PM on 13 Sep 2007,
  • J.G. wrote:

Strange, that the 'old' version, according to the Goggle cache time-stamp on the page before you edited it, was last updated in June 2007! So it may well have been written a while ago, but was edited MUCH later. As usual, the BBC has been caught out in blatant anti-Americanism and tries to wiggle out using half-truths. You just don't seem to get it do you? The original piece was unacceptable, that is why you replaced it. Just admit it.

The BBC, blatant anti-Americanism, it's what we do.

  • 10.
  • At 03:32 PM on 13 Sep 2007,
  • Bedd Gelert wrote:

ale bro - you may be interested in the following quote, again from the CBBC Newsround website..

"Because of this, [Al-Quaeda] is classed as a terrorist organisation by the UK government."

But why let little things like this get in the way of a pejorative attack ?

  • 11.
  • At 03:37 PM on 13 Sep 2007,
  • greg wrote:

The issue here is not you asking the question 'why did they attack us', its the people that dont want you to ask that question that are the problem. Who exactly complained? the whitehouse? the Bush administration? surely any member of the public would want to know the reasons behind the attack so they can be assured the same problem does not happen again?

However your original post lacks adequate context, as it incorrectly presumes that Bin Laden was responsible.
May i ask, where is the evidence for that assertion? If you actually went online and did two minutes research into this you would find out that no evidence linking bin laden to 9/11 has EVER been found. As Rex Tomb, Chief of Investigative Publicity for the FBI, said: "The reason why 9/11 is not mentioned on Usama Bin Laden’s Most Wanted page is because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11"
you can still check this on the official fbi website, here: http://www.fbi.gov/wanted/terrorists/terbinladen.htm
he is charged with the PREVIOUS bombings, but even the FBI admits there has been no evidence linking him to 9/11.

The BBC needs to ask some serious questions about 9/11. Like why does it take an individual british expert to deduce that the recent Bin laden tape was faked (dubbed with added audio) when the whitehouse and CIA were proclaiming it a genuine video, surely they should be better informed than one person? and why, and who, faked the previous Bin Laden 9/11 admission video? (even the BBC covered that story)http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/1711288.stm


Until you ask these questions in public, i can only agree with the side of the debate the BBC currently regards as a 'conspiracy theory'; although i fail to see how it can be called that when you have people like Former Commanding General of NATO, Wesley Clark, saying publically he endorses these altenate views; along with academics such as David Leifer (BSc, B.Arch, M.Ed, PhD) and Col. Robert Bowman, (PhD, U.S. Air Force – Former Head of the Department of Aeronautical Engineering), the list goes on.., do you know something about 9/11 they dont?

  • 12.
  • At 03:37 PM on 13 Sep 2007,
  • Malcolm Watson wrote:

Yep, the old version is back - 'America upset some people and so these people decided to attack America.' Oh please. You could not hide your simmering anti-American bigotry more if you tried.

  • 13.
  • At 04:15 PM on 13 Sep 2007,
  • David Wilson wrote:

Sinead

Are you sure you have the correct version up? It looks exactly the same as the 'old' one you apologise for in your blog article?

  • 14.
  • At 04:23 PM on 13 Sep 2007,
  • gregor aitken wrote:

who would have thought that newsround is the bbc outlet that gets closest to the truth of 911

This all just gets funnier by the day.

newnight - state sponsered spin
panorama -state sponsered spin
6 O'Clock news - state sponsered spin
newsround - some honest reporting (nearly)

go on newsround, my new favourite news prog.

  • 15.
  • At 04:24 PM on 13 Sep 2007,
  • Bedd Gelert wrote:

Malcolm Watson - has it not ever occurred to you that a 'news site' such as this is meant to help people understand the world ??

In particular, rather than being 'anti-American' as your superficial analysis implies - it is trying to help us understand why there is, on the face of it, a great deal of anti-Americanism in the world ??

I suspect had you lived a century or two ago you would be making the same specious arguments as to why people were opposed to British Colonialism or French Imperialism.

And I also suspect that when you read about the latest advances in the treatment of cancer your narrow minded reaction is to bleat about why people are being 'anti-cancer' rather than applaud people who are trying to understand the causes of it.

  • 16.
  • At 04:24 PM on 13 Sep 2007,
  • Shiv wrote:

It doesn't look like a biased representation to me. It sets out why AQ say they did it, and doesn't amount to endorsing or supporting what AQ did.

Is anyone seriously suggesting that this wasn't the reason that AQ gave for their actions?

I think that the BBC should have more courage in its convictions and stop reacting to a vocal minority / organised bloggers, and spending its life on it's knees apologising for hurting the feelings of Americans.

They don't pay the licence fee. If they want pro-US propaganda, let them fund it themselves.

  • 17.
  • At 04:29 PM on 13 Sep 2007,
  • Saeed wrote:

Some people who have left comment here, would like to see BBC reporting the way Fox News is doing it!

  • 18.
  • At 04:37 PM on 13 Sep 2007,
  • dave wrote:

i dont allow my kids to watch anything on the beeb no more(except sport) because of your disgusting standards and propaganda

the sooner a lot of P45's are issued the better

  • 19.
  • At 04:53 PM on 13 Sep 2007,
  • James S wrote:

I've just had a quick read of that report and can I take it that a good summary would be:

It was all America's fault.

Nothing about murdering scum being brainwashed by religion; just America got involved in the middle east so they deserved it.

Do you ever question why people think the BBC is biased?

  • 20.
  • At 04:54 PM on 13 Sep 2007,
  • J Dugdale wrote:

I know it's anti-American,you know it's anti-American,everyone knows it's anti-American.When are the bbc going to learn that we (the paying public),are not as gullible as you seem to think we are.

It's a bit rich of Joss Sanglier at 2.58pm to agree that there are issues with Newsround's 9/11 coverage and then at 3.02pm to attack us at Biased BBC for highlighting exactly the same issue and other similar problems with BBC coverage!

Joss writes "[Biased BBC] seems as unimportant as my offerings". Perhaps Biased BBC is unimportant, but unlike Joss we have more than 2,000 readers a day who are interested in the BBC and in what we have to say about the BBC, including many readers (and participants) up and down the BBC.

We have no more access to the BBC than Joss does. Perhaps Joss should try engaging in open and honest discussion rather than trying to close the debate down because he doesn't like it or doesn't like us.

P.S. Joss, to see how Biased BBC ranks with Google on the subject of BBC bias type 'bbc bias' and hit the 'I'm feeling lucky' button. Be prepared to be engage in debate when you get there!

  • 22.
  • At 05:11 PM on 13 Sep 2007,
  • billyquiz wrote:

Most people who have left comment here, would like to see BBC reporting facts instead of opinions.

  • 23.
  • At 05:16 PM on 13 Sep 2007,
  • Peter wrote:

There's no event in a brewery the shambolic clowns running this show couldn't organise.

For heaven's sake, guys, the corporation's reputation is hanging by a thread already and THIS is the best you can do by way of handling what is another very bad situation, much less addressing the culture that creates it ???!

Whatever one may think, say or throw toys around about Biased BBC, those who run it and contribute usually do so on the basis of fact, with clear, attributable links. And too often the 'dismiss them, they are beneath us' (or, if you prefer, unreasoned rants) comments seem to be issued from the BBC's bowels.... unless you can prove otherwise.

And, may I remind you, they are not a national, publicly funded media organisation who seem to have trouble with how reality gets portrayed these days. Or, if challenged, fail to come up with pretty convincing stuff in defence of their claims.

So as it seems they have the reputation to ask good questions that get answered quicker than others, I'd really like to hear what you have to say in response to Post 5.

Almost none of what I read from Ms. Rocks can be explained away by what I have also read in Andrew's links.

Please, no more bunker mentality.

  • 24.
  • At 05:28 PM on 13 Sep 2007,
  • Roger Rainey wrote:

1. There is much confusion because it appears that the new statement, which you defend, is precisely the same as the old statement, which you reject as inappropriate. This needs to be cleared up.

2. Further, as stated, you describe as fact what is only one argument used to support the attacks. You leave out other arguments, such as that the "American policies" argument is a smokescreen to obscure the real desire, which is the spread of reactionary Islam. This has become much clearer in later AQ communications, and you should have pointed this out.

3. Moreover, you describe the incident as if it were a military strike, perhaps somewhat justified. Hopefully, even the depths of moral equivalence that we've sunk to do not allow for the omission of the natural observation that this was a heinous attack on civilians going about their day in an office tower.

I realize this is akin to arguing against a brick wall, but those like me with a different outlook need to at least express our frustration with the prevailing idealogy of our media.

  • 25.
  • At 05:39 PM on 13 Sep 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

Can anyone explain to me how it is biased to say that Al-Qaeda members are upset with America? I think they've made it pretty clear that they are.

  • 26.
  • At 06:14 PM on 13 Sep 2007,
  • Carolyn Aycock wrote:

YOU WROTE "When the attacks happened in 2001, there were a number of US troops in a country called Saudi Arabia, and the leader of al-Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden, said he wanted them to leave."

Even if you were writing to an adult audience, this is a leading statement--making the reader feel as though Saudi Arabia is lead by Osama Bin Laden.

This is poor writing and you should own up to it.

I'd like the opportunity not to pay for this sort of thing. I'd like to be able to choose not to fund the BBC if I don't want to.

  • 28.
  • At 06:52 PM on 13 Sep 2007,
  • David Preiser wrote:

You are still horribly wrong. The article still says that Al Qaeda are "who are widely thought to have been behind the attacks." What is wrong with you people? They did it, and have claimed responsibility for it numerous times! The words you have written suggest there are other "facts" about the attacks. This is not something you should be teaching British children, at the taxpayer's expense.

You claim that you are trying to make things palatable for the kiddies. Fair enough, but you must tell them who were responsible for the attacks. What you have done here is teach British children to accept conspiracy theories. Disgusting.

Equally disgusting are some posters here who think some of us want some sort of boo-yah American flag-waving article, or that there are some "facts" we want suppressed. No, we want the BBC to simply report the truth, and tell the truth to the next generation as well. Al Qaeda have shown they were behind the attacks in numerous videos and public statements. The actual terrorists who hijacked the planes left tons of personal documents stating what they were going to do and why. There is no mystery, no conspiracy, no question.

I was, in fact, one of the original complainers, but I certainly never received any message from you about it. I don't care about that, but I do care that you take responsibility for what you have done. Six years ago, when you claim the problematic articles were first done, we still knew who did it, so your article was wrong even then. There can be no excuse.

What you need to do now is simply change it to say clearly that Al Qaeda were in fact responsible. You really ought publish an official apology to the families of the victims for leaving British children open to sickening - and provably false - conspiracy theories, but I would never expect you to actually do such a thing.

Stating that Al Qaeda were behind the attacks of September 11 is neither pro- nor anti-American. It is a neutral, factual statement, full stop. Surely the BBC is capable of that. You can leave the whys and wherefores to the pundits. Just tell the truth. Any commenters who would tell you otherwise are part of the problem. Please reconsider what you have done. Again.

  • 29.
  • At 07:01 PM on 13 Sep 2007,
  • F Day wrote:

"The way America has got involved in conflicts in regions like the Middle East has made some people very angry."

I'm not anti American or pro American. I consider myself pretty neutral - but I think the above is a good description for children. It doesn't say America was doing anything wrong - just that some people were annoyed by the issue.

Just like this conversation topic. There's nothing wrong with what was written, but some people are annoyed over the issue - both ways.

  • 30.
  • At 07:18 PM on 13 Sep 2007,
  • BC10 wrote:

If it was written "almost 6 years ago" why does it refer to "when the attacks happened in 2001". Unless the writer lived in the future?

BTW Ms Rocks

Your little stunt has been forwarded on to BBC Trust and a number of MP's

So I trust you have not been selective in publishing other peoples comments.

Enjoy.

  • 32.
  • At 09:07 PM on 13 Sep 2007,
  • Paul Holden wrote:

Sinead, you freely admit that the original article was an "offensive" "error" worthy of a grovelling apology. However, you offer no explanation of how such an offensive article came to be written in the first place.

In fact, don't bother trying to explain, most of us know exactly what type of mindset inhabits the corridors of the BBC, and this sort of hand caught in the cookie jar incident is no real surprise to us.

  • 33.
  • At 10:46 PM on 13 Sep 2007,
  • Dave wrote:

What a joke. Your organization appears to have no better standards than the average tabloid. It seems the only thing you excel at are engaging in trendy smear campaigns of the week, and one sided selective presentation of information as definitive fact. For example (one of many), I've seen your programs many times criticizing christianity and scientology, but you never dare touch on islam and all of the questionable activities going on in the backyards of europe. By the way, I am an atheist, so am not offended by your biases against certain religious groups, but I am offended by your cowardly, hypocritical reporting slant.


Stiff upper lip? I'm sorry mates, but it looks like these days it's a scared (to speak freely) upper lip.


Right, so there's been a bit of a cock-up re a page with the wrong logos, but I can't see anything wrong with the current guide!

I think if you read them in order from top to bottom it is fairly clear that al-Qaeda was probably behind it, but it's also clear it's possible that they weren't involved.

If something is widely believed to be a fact, but there is no actual evidence (only claims) then it is absolutely correct to say that it is "widely thought". Just because a lot of people believe it be a fact does not actually make it a fact.

No matter how many people jump up and down saying "this should be presented as fact!", I see no reason for the BBC to be less hazy.

Taken as a whole, this guide seems fair and balanced - but I'm not the target audience. Can we please find out what 8-12 year olds think?

  • 35.
  • At 09:15 AM on 14 Sep 2007,
  • J wrote:

Why have you decided to blame the USA for the September 11th attacks in the article? and indeed to question that al-Qaeada commiteed this atrocity?

"The way America has got involved in conflicts in regions like the Middle East has made some people very angry, including a group called al-Qaeda - who are widely thought to have been behind the attacks...

When the attacks happened in 2001, there were a number of US troops in a country called Saudi Arabia, and the leader of al-Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden, said he wanted them to leave."


Do you actually believe this? If so do you think its responsible of you to be working for an organistaion like the BBC which claims to be free from bias? Or, in a department disseminating information to children? Is this not a case of spreading personnal hatred to children? What do you think will be the consequences of doing so?

Thanks for all your comments so far.

There is considerable confusion about the date stamps on the Newsround stories being discussed. The initial report that caused concern was taken down this week. It had our old-style graphics on it and was originally created in 2001.

It has now been replaced with the more recent guide. So any link that used to lead to it (from the Drudge Report etc) will now take people here.

The 9/11 guide that is now up was last edited in June of this year. I took the 'Why did they do it' guide off the site on Wednesday of this week to assess it and put it back on a short time later so the date stamp on it reflects that. However no changes were made to it at this point.

I understand that a lot of the complaints here are about this, newer version. Yes, it is simplistic but it has been written for young children and it should be taken in context with the rest of the material in the 9/11 guide.

  • 37.
  • At 11:08 AM on 14 Sep 2007,
  • Jonathan wrote:

I'm baffled as to what people want to see on the site - do they want no question as to why they did it, or do they want the answer to be as pointless as 'because they're very bad men'? It seems perfectly sensible to me to ask the question, and to say that Al-Qaeda was angry at the US. That is not to say that it was the US's fault, or that they deserved it, but that there was some level of reason for it. Too many people seem to be reading what they want into the article, rather than the words.

  • 38.
  • At 11:28 AM on 14 Sep 2007,
  • Jamie wrote:

People who are accusing the BBC of bias are, frankly, not that bright. The question is "Why did they do it?" Unless you are a total idiot, you want to get beyond such ridiculous notions like "Oh, they're just all evil", or "Their perverted interpretation of their religion made them do it." As if people just woke up one day and decided to hate America. It is simply a fact that America's actions _are_ perceived by an awful lot of people as imperialistic, and this is a key part of the motivation for the attacks. To leave it out would be highly misleading and in actual fact an abuse of one's responsibility to children.

Saying any of this is simply an attempt to _explain_ the actions of Al-Qaida. It in no way justifies their actions. There is a massive difference between psychology and normative ethics.

I can, for instance, understand how people become murderers. I do not thereby think their actions to be justified. It really isn't true that "tout comprendre, c’est tout pardonner". That is a form of moral cowardice.

  • 39.
  • At 11:29 AM on 14 Sep 2007,
  • Ynda wrote:

Poor old BBC! 9/11 is covered by all sorts of spin: indeed, it seems deliberate media management from the US. I think the Why question cannot be stated as fact just opinion and therefore cannot be put into a kid's presentation. Attempting to simplify all the distortions for kids is virtually impossible.

The facts appear to be: four aircraft were hijacked. 2 aircraft hit the WTC towers (video evidence). Three towers fell down (WTC 1, 2 and 7) (video evidence) and many other towers were damaged. The side of the pentagon suffered an explosion (the supposed crash site for 3rd aircraft). There was another crash site for the fourth aircraft at either 10.03am (official statement) or 10.06am (seismic data). Wikipedia states the best estimate for the number of fatalities is 2974 (not including the between 10 to 19 hijackers) on the day.

Within the basic facts there is doubt and confusion and thereafter almost everything else is supposition.

Seems a bit thin to me...

  • 40.
  • At 11:38 AM on 14 Sep 2007,
  • Paul Holden wrote:

Sinead
Thank you for your explanation of the very confusing changes to the web links. However, as you are no doubt aware, most, if not all of us whingers, are actually concerned about the "new" version, so goodness knows how upset we would have been had we seen the original "offensive" version.

Whilst appreciating the need to keep things simple for your younger audience, the problem is that in simplifying a complex situation you have created a very one-sided picture of the issues behind 9/11. And being the BBC, that one-sidedness is naturally anti-American rather than anti-Islam.

Now I find it hard to believe the massed ranks of BBC journalism cannot manage something that shows no bias one way or the other and is simple enough for children. That is your job after all.

  • 41.
  • At 11:54 AM on 14 Sep 2007,
  • Ben wrote:

You say Al Qaeda attacked the US in response to US policy but that is JUST YOUR OPINION.

What about the Madrid train bombings? Was that in response to US policy as well?

The London Underground bombings? The planned attacks in Germany recently?

Al Qaeda are trying to destroy western society and set up a global caliphate. They have stated this. They will not stop until they succeed or they themselves are destroyed.

You cannot say this was caused by US actions. Even if these people are angry with the US there are certainly many other causes as well.

Sinead: "There is considerable confusion about the date stamps on the Newsround stories being discussed."

Perhaps this has something to do with the BBC's nasty habit of stealth-editing stories, rather than having a transparent edit 'history' like the one that Wikipedia so easily provides.

Sinead: "The initial report that caused concern was taken down this week. It had our old-style graphics on it and was originally created in 2001. It has now been replaced with the more recent guide."

That cannot be true Sinead. The URL that Drudge links to is this one, which redirects to your supposedly 'newer' Why did they do it? page - but, if you take the same URL that Drudge linked to and paste it into Google, click Submit, then click on Cached to view Google's cache of the page (the one Drudge linked to!), you will see that it has exactly the same text as your supposedly 'newer' version (the picture, timestamp and line-breaks are different, but that's all) - but here's the thing - Google's cache (of the page Drudge linked to remember), is dated 10 Jul 2007 04:48:34 GMT, so how can you claim that Drudge was referring to a different page? Sure, the url redirect is different, but the content of the page is the same! I am genuinely puzzled by your insistence that the content Drudge linked to is not the same as your 'newer' version.

There were complaints about an earlier version of your 9/11 Guide back in June 2007, but all of the recent complaints (say for the last week at least) must have been about your so-called 'newer' version of the page - the one that is in Google's cache (and has been since July 10th)!

Your so-called 'newer' version of the Why did they do it? page, the one that everyone has been complaining about, is quite simply inadequate, implying a one-sided cause and effect between American policy and the atrocities of 9/11. You don't even mention that the American troops in Saudi Arabia were there at the invitation of the Saudi government to protect Saudi Arabia!

I've written up the whole story as best I can overnight at Biased BBC - please let me know about any bits of it that you disagree with - I'll be happy to publish your response there too if you wish.

One last point, my children are at the bottom end of your target age group - they and their friends and peers are not as dumb as Newsround's style of writing and simplification presumes. Really. Sometimes complicated subjects need just a little more detail to make honest sense.

Please reconsider the text of your 'newer' Why did they do it? page once more.

  • 43.
  • At 12:22 PM on 14 Sep 2007,
  • The Admiral wrote:

The problem is that the BBC has wilfully ignored and ridiculed attempts to point out "Left of everything" bias in recent years. The net result is that they have lost the collective "benefit of the doubt" that the nation has afforded them previously. They have prodigiously squandered their hard-won reserves of credibility and goodwill - an act that many people from all parts of the political and cultural spectrum find unforgiveable. This Newsround spat is a good example. It should be a relatively minor issue. But the BBC, through its intransigence and refusal to seriously address endemic bias (shooting the messenger usually via loaded references to the Daily Mail) now is attacked for each transgression - major or minor. It is entirely the BBC's fault. It is not acceptable for a unrepresentative sliver of the political spectrum to have hijacked the national broadcaster in this way.

  • 44.
  • At 01:03 PM on 14 Sep 2007,
  • Yikes wrote:

Well said Jonathan.

People seem so quick to complain yet they don't actually think about what they're reading before they open their mouths.

The article says it plain and simple - AQ are angry with the US because of the way the US has conducted itself in the Middle East. It doesn't say that the actions of the US are wrong, just that some people don't like the things the US has done.

People call it anti-american? Well funnily enough al-Qaeada are anti-american duh!

  • 45.
  • At 02:01 PM on 14 Sep 2007,
  • John Smith wrote:

I love America. Far too much to be healthy, I'm working hard towards emigration, I desperately want to live there. Love the country, love the people, love the polity. Even fly the flag. But even with that hopeless pro-American attitude, I cannot possibly fathom how the current article is considered anti-American.

It describes the events. "The way America has got involved in conflicts in regions like the Middle East has made some people very angry". It doesn't say "America did naughty things", it doesn't say "America imposed itself", it says people are annoyed... they are!

Next paragraph says "In the past, al-Qaeda leaders have declared a holy war - called a jihad - against the US. As part of this jihad, al-Qaeda members believe attacking US targets is something they should do."... again, they do! The article doesn't say "al-Qaeda should attack America", it doesn't say "a jihad is a good thing"... it describes the events.

Final paragraph... "When the attacks happened in 2001, there were a number of US troops in a country called Saudi Arabia, and the leader of al-Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden, said he wanted them to leave." Let's see. Is there a country called Saudi Arabia? Yes. Were there US troops there? Yes. Is OBL the leader of al-Qaeda? Yes. Did he want them to leave? Yes! How exactly is it possible for people to disagree with this assessment?

I doubt it'll be possible to appease the neo-fascists until the article reads "As good American families were waking up and walking the dog, nasty evil men decided to have some fun by killing thousands of apple pie eating parents". Apologising to these maniacs is a waste of time and effort.

  • 46.
  • At 02:13 PM on 14 Sep 2007,
  • Graham wrote:

If I stood as far to the right as Andrew and his 2,000 Biased BBC buddies, everything would be to my left.

Maybe I should start a Biased-Biased-BBC blog.

  • 47.
  • At 02:17 PM on 14 Sep 2007,
  • Nick Evans wrote:

Anybody who reads those pages and considers them to be anti-American can't have English as their first language.

  • 48.
  • At 02:33 PM on 14 Sep 2007,
  • poor boy wrote:

Grateful if you could either remove or completely re-write the ‘Why did they do it?’ CBBC page. The suggestion that America’s foreign policy (alone) led directly to terrorists murdering hundreds of innocent US civilians is quite tasteless and represents an extremely one-sided interpretation of events.

  • 49.
  • At 02:58 PM on 14 Sep 2007,
  • Macky wrote:

The article is stating facts, is doesnt say 9/11 is anyones fault, that would not be impartial and would be taking sides which is what a GOOD news report should be like. Obviously americans are not to used to good non-biased journalism.


  • 50.
  • At 04:00 PM on 14 Sep 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

Political affiliations and reference to BBC bias aside, I'd just like to say something to all the Beeb supporters who've posted on here and agreed that it's ok to blandly tell our children that AQ were "angry with the US" so they blew a few thousand human beings to oblivion. What kind of morals is that teaching a child?? Picture the scenario with your son or daughter - Johnny has made me angry at school so I'm gonna smash his face in (or worse). It doesn't matter whether I'm right or he's right or neither of us are right, as long as he's made me angry I can smash his face in. What the heck, if I'm angry for no reason at all I can still smash someone's face in!!

Do you see my point?? It's one thing trying to be insanely neutral and impartial with adults (known in the real world as being biased) but children surely need some moral guidance.

  • 51.
  • At 04:36 PM on 14 Sep 2007,
  • Ianian wrote:

Ridiculous how people think it is anti-American just becase it starts by explaining what America did. Or do you dispute that al-Queda got upset about US involvement in the middle east?

Rather than just criticising, why don't you try writing a version on here that you are happy with?

The Newsround site also broadly follows the findings of the 9/11 Commission, as I've blogged here.

So the truth is biased now, is it? I can't see a single flaw in that article, and the authors should be congratulated. Ignore the complainants who have their own agenda.

  • 54.
  • At 07:10 PM on 14 Sep 2007,
  • Vladimir wrote:

Of course america's actions caused 9/11. Just like British actions caused IRA's strikes. You know, people got angered...

  • 55.
  • At 09:12 PM on 14 Sep 2007,
  • John Anderson wrote:

Adding the simple fact that US troops were in Saudi because the Saudis as well as Kuwait had been threatened by Saddam would help balance the piece. But what is really needed is some expression that Al Q is evil, pure and simple. Of course we could not expect the BBC to add that the evil stems from teachings in the Koran !

And how about mentioning that the US is not the only target - that Saudi itself was always the prime target of Al Q - as is Israel ? That Al Q sees many Muslims as enemies ?

Maybe the word "terrorist" might be used ? Or is that still verboten under the BBC's warped policy guidelines ? It seems amazing that the BBC, in describing the biggest terrorist attack in history, cannot use the T word except when quoting President Bush or in the reference to the UK Government (why not all the other Governments) declaring Al Q to be a terrorist organisation ?

TERRORISM is the word that most civilised people use in describing 9/11, or Bali, or Madrid, or the London bombings, or attacks on tourists in North Africa, or endless killings in Iraq, or countless other atrocities worldwide. Terrorism is a word that even children can understand. Most civilised people use the T word without any hesitation - that is, except the BBC. Which edited out the T word from its initial reports on the London bombings until it was shamed into replacing the word. Yet the BBC still avoids the T word everywhere except in describing incidents in the UK. If it is terrorism in London, why isn't terrorism elsewhere - in this case terrorism on 9/11 ?

Shades of the BBC's craven behaviour before WW2 ? Do BBC editorial staff have any conception how ashamed we are becoming of what was once a justly-proud British institution ?

  • 56.
  • At 10:56 PM on 14 Sep 2007,
  • Lee Roy Sanders, Jr. wrote:

It is remarkable how a patterning of programming of a citizen concerning the world wished them to believe to exist can continue to be used to explain current events. There is no country's government that exists as it is demanded their citizens to think it is.

Politics and the television among the mass media is the greatest threat to humanity. It is just as destructive as a nuclear war.

Criminal actions are being justified, reasoning other nations are committing them and they will fall behind their satanic race.

911 the only truth about it, is that planes flew into the Twin Towers in New York. The falling buildings the people could not escape from were killed.

Now the meat of the matter. Today the military rule the world no different that in the earliest time of humanity. The group of the greatest brute strength prevail.

Ethics and the love for life does not yet exist, only the seven greatest sins of humanity. A Nations use of what they call ethics is being used as a weapon to lobotomize their populous they call citizens.

  • 57.
  • At 04:22 AM on 15 Sep 2007,
  • David Preiser wrote:

Ms. Rock, you still left the site stating that Al Qaeda were "widely thought to have been behind the attacks." I have no problem with the way you have fixed the rest of it to say that they were angry at the US for various bits of foreign policy (much better than the previous atrocious version). But I repeat what I have written to you at least three times now, as well as to the main BBC complaints department:

Al Qaeda were responsible for the attacks. They admitted it, and have left tons of evidence proving this fact. Saying anything else leaves the door open for all manner of conspiracies. There are many people in Britain, the US, and Europe who actually believe that President Bush and his crew were somehow behind the attacks. You know perfectly well that lots of people are deluded in this manner, and are convinced the towers were blown up from the inside, the phone calls from the victims on the plane were faked by the government, etc.

You know this to be true, yet you still let your website encourage British children to open their minds to these ideas. The only explanation I can think of other than sheer incompetence is that you actually believe some of the conspiracy theories as well. I know you will now dismiss me as a crank. But you cannot deny what you are doing, can you. Alternatively, please amend the sentence in the article to say that Al Qaeda were, in fact, behind the attacks. Please.

  • 58.
  • At 08:07 AM on 15 Sep 2007,
  • Ollie wrote:

Re: Andrew, comment # 21. Good to see that while the BBC's editors happily engage viewers/listeners daily, one person has the temerity to criticise Biased BBC and he's in there, guns blazing. Perhaps time to develop a slightly thicker skin.

The point is that the report suggests that the attacks were somehow a logical response to the way the US behaved or that they can be explained as such a response. Simply, they can't though. They were an irrational and unjustifiable act. The point of view expressed on the page could still have been made whilst putting it in the context that it was how some of al Quaeda tried to justify it rather than an objective justification.

The article should actually say it was American involvement in wars in the Middle East rather than "the way" America was involved and should also give some explanation of *why* US troops were in Saudi Arabia. It makes it sound like they were invading at the moment!

  • 61.
  • At 07:11 PM on 15 Sep 2007,
  • Richard wrote:

I really cannot see what the fuss is about. The Newsround page described what happened - simply stating the facts. No opinion is ventured.
Americans may not be happy with being unpopular but that is an entirely different issue. The BBC, or any other worthwhile news agency, cannot, and should not, be forced to take a particular stance whatever the issue, as the result would simply be propaganda.

  • 62.
  • At 09:12 PM on 15 Sep 2007,
  • David Preiser wrote:

Ms. Rock,

Thank you for fixing the line about which I have been complaining. I do appreciate the difficulties involved in all this, although I will never understand how such an article got written in the first place. But I appreciate the time and effort taken to listen to complaints and do something about them.

This was something very important, and you have now risen to the challenge. Thank you very much.

  • 63.
  • At 10:11 AM on 16 Sep 2007,
  • Brian Houston wrote:

The style of writing and use of language is based on the target audience of six to twelve year olds. The use of a lengthy, drawn out history of events in the Middle East and US foreign policy as most reponses seek would have little or no merit to the target audience.

"Al-Qaeda is unhappy with America and other countries getting involved in places like the Middle East." This seems to offend many, but is a truthful statement. There is no connotation, no implication of blame (on the US) or justification for the attacks, even in the context of full article. Merely reporting factually in simplistic terminology. The article is clear and concise and on many occassions subtly points out that the actions of Al-Qaeda are wrong, immoral, unjust and against the religion for which they stand.

  • 64.
  • At 11:07 AM on 16 Sep 2007,
  • JetTx wrote:

Don,(13 Sep, 1:55) You are an idiot. The words "violence" and "attacks" are right there. Do you have a problem with reading?

CBBC gave a simple and accurate explanation for children, which apparently goes over your own head.

CBBC is not "out of control" as you say. In fact, most of the rest of the world would credibly argue that it is us Americans who are out of control. And you and your ilk don't help matters very much when you post assinine comments like you have done.

  • 65.
  • At 01:53 PM on 16 Sep 2007,
  • Chad H. wrote:

Notice how the people winging about BBC's Biased are all complaining that its simply that the BBC doesnt share their bias.

I think its fair to ask what their motivations of the attackers were. I mean, you dont just wake up one morning and decide "You know, I've always wanted to fly a jet full of people into a world famous landmark, I think I'll just call in sick, and then head over to the Airport, and grab a bagel on the way".

The September 11 attackers did have a reason... To pretend they had no motivation, and no root cause is just plain ignorance. They arent Autonomtrons, there was some "reasoning" in their actions.

After all, if your house starts falling apart due to faulty foundations, do you simply try to fix the house whilst ignoring the foundations, or do you try to get to the route cause itself? Ignoring their motivations is ignoring the route cause.

  • 66.
  • At 04:24 AM on 17 Sep 2007,
  • Rick_VT wrote:

I am an American.

Too frequently over the past few years - here in the United States - much of the media and indeed many citizens will term you unpatriotic or even a traitor to question why or to speculate why 9/11 happened.

But, there are also many citizens here that do see the attack as a reaction to the way America and Europe has treated that part of the world - in fulfilling our thirst for its oil and in our disregard we've all had for its people.

Sadly, there are also right wing religious groups/cults (like the King James (bible) Version Onlyists (KJVO)) here and abroad, that want to see that area of the planet burned and destroyed to hasten their warped biblical vision to pre-ordained fruition. These types of people and their so-call brand of "christianity" are as threatening to freedom and life as the Taliban and AQ.

The only hope is that sanity, freedom and peace will be found before it is too late for us all. It will not be found in any extreme religion or political stand but in re-centering a society based on mutual respect for diversity and the value for all humanity that such a richness brings.

My hope here in the U.S. is that someone will rise out of the current dismal candidate pack to replace and re-direct us away from the position that Bush and Company has left us - as we've only moved closer toward that biblical destruction since 9/11 rather than away from it.

  • 67.
  • At 01:03 PM on 17 Sep 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

Biased BBC? Oh, come on.

I haven't read the older article, but I can only assume that it was perhaps clumsily worded, and might be inferred by people who like to get cross about anything as biased.

This edited version has nothing wrong with it at all. Yes, al-Qaeda attacked the US because they didn't like US policy- they said it themselves in Bin Laden tapes on numerous occasions. Where does writer's opinion fall into that, seeing as it appears only to be reporting the facts?

The short piece even says Muslims in general condemned the attacks, perhaps implicating that the terrorism was, shall we say, a bad thing?

It's also written for 8-12-year-olds to understand clearly, not to go into great detail over what the US policy was. Objectors, pray tell, how would you write the piece in under 100 words in a way to make those readers understand the scenario?

But no, of course the BBC are anti-American- they put the TV show American Dad! on BBC2, an animated comedy that lampoons the US's overactive paranoia, vigilance and refusal to accept liberal ways of thinkings. Yes, very biased.

In light of all these comments, at the end of last week we asked a senior BBC Correspondent to take a look at our 9/11 guide and he made a few suggestions for how to improve it.

These suggestions along with some made by members of the Newsround team, have now been implemented. Thanks again for all your comments.

  • 69.
  • At 03:21 PM on 17 Sep 2007,
  • Don wrote:

JetTx, I don't know if you have actually ever seen CBBC in Texas or wherever you are, but as a UK resident I have done over many years.

I am also one of the poor saps who has to fund the BBC £3.4 billion a year. That is a little under $7 billion to you.

I know they have an agenda. That's fine. I just don't want to have to fund it myself. Currently if I refuse to pay the BBCs 'licence fee' I will be flung in prison. This seems a little unfair wouldn't you say?

CBBC is out of control but not, it seems, 'completely out of control' as Ms Rocks has been in and made some changes. Many thanks to Andrew and Biased BBC for bringing this whole issue to light.

You may not mind British children being indoctrinated by the BBC to hate your country but I do.

By the way, the words I said I wanted to see were 'murder' and 'terrorism' not the ones you listed. I still havn't seen them ;-)

With apologies to Godwin, here's a little conversation:

R: How did the Nazis gain power in Germany in the 1930s?

L: Well, the Weimar Republic suffered severe economic problems which fuelled widespread dissatisfaction. And the Treaty of Versailles was considered a humiliation by many Germans...

R: I can't believe you justify the Nazis. Fascist!

Explanation is not the same as justification. It's not rocket science, for crying out loud. Please BBC, don't pander to this inane nonsense.

  • 71.
  • At 09:31 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Michael Smith wrote:

I see that not only is Damian Thompson of the Telegraph concerned about this; Roy Greenslade of the Guardian's up in arms too.

When respected journalists from right across the political spectrum think there's bias, you should be taking them seriously.

  • 72.
  • At 04:12 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • M wrote:

You can ignore the critics if they don´t come up with their own neutral version (in 100 words).

  • 73.
  • At 04:51 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Ben wrote:

Yes Gary (#70) but the equivalent BBC 'explaination' of events as per your conversation would be that Poland deserved to get invaded by Germany because 'they had it coming'.

  • 74.
  • At 04:55 AM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • Graeme wrote:

Hardly up in arms, Michael Smith. Greenslade has trawled a few websites (Thompson's blog is a favourite of his at the moment) and jumped on a bandwagon liek he usually does.

Linking this to Will Lewis' speech in Cambridge on 'liberial bias' further proves the fact that he was after cheap controversial copy without actually considering his subject.

Where is the 'liberal' bias in the BBC article in question? Is it 'liberal' because it doesn't rant about "freedom hatin' mooslims who want to destroy our way of life" and other such Bushisms?

The conservative agenda in America defines everything that it doesn't agree with as wrong (and liberal or islamo-fascist or any other title it sees fit to bestow). I really hoped that this would not cross the pond.

It seems that it has.

  • 75.
  • At 04:57 AM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • Graeme wrote:

And may I also add that Damian Thompson is about as one-eyed, illogical and hateful of the BBC as they come. He will pick up on anything and does so with great delight.

  • 76.
  • At 05:16 AM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • Ali wrote:

Most people seem to be ignoring an important fact. This article was aimed at children.
Ok, if you think it leans more to indoctronation an information- complain away. But i dont agree with posts who object to no mention of murder and terrorism.
Children see events on TV and want to understand, Newsround attempts fill this need while not terifying youngsters.
Its a hard job to inform without alarm about issues such as this.
On the whole, they do a difficult job well.

  • 77.
  • At 12:31 PM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • Edward Chewtoy wrote:

The BBC is not allowed to say that Al Quaeda is angry with the U.S.? So what should be the "correct" motivation then... the hijackers loved the U.S. so much, they thought they could get a green card this way?

Just because the entry points out somebody's motivation, that does not mean the BBC endorses that motivation. That distinction was clearly made in the entry.

This whole "scandal" is nothing but a storm in a tea cup, made up by people intending to destroy what the BBC stands for (although recently I'm not so sure what the BBC stands for). We shouldn't let them get away with it.

  • 78.
  • At 01:11 PM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • thegrouchybeast wrote:

In my view, there was nothing wrong with the first version. Perhaps it should have been updated sooner, given that it was written very shortly after the attacks, but that's the nature of websites -- it's extremely difficult to ensure that a site as large as the BBC's is 100% up to date.

I thought the language was well-pitched, and the content was factual. There's nothing wrong with explaining to children then even atrocities like the Twin Towers attack are carried out by human beings with motives and goals, rather than by some nebulous and incomprehensible force of evil. Explanation is not the same as excuse.

  • 79.
  • At 02:00 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • JulianR wrote:

Whilst no broadcaster or newspaper can be completely unbiased, the BBC is by far the best in this country in terms of balancing different points of view, of questioning opinions that seem to be "obvious". That is so important, especially as so few journalists in the British Press seem make any effort at all to see things objectively.

It is not that the BBC is anti-American, but what seems to upset some people is that the BBC is not being actively pro-American - ie they want the BBC to reflect their own prejudices in just the same way as their daily newspaper probably does.

It is not the business of the BBC to be either pro-Ameriacn or anti-American, of course. Long may the BBC continue to refuse to pander to these pressures; please continue to question the prevailing view, to make us question it and to teach us all to see that there is another point of view on most things. We do not have to agree with that other point of view, but until we understand it,we will have no hope of understanding the world - whether that is to counter the terrorist threat effectively or to reach out to those of a different view who may be open to persuasion.

  • 80.
  • At 02:35 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Becky C wrote:

I'm not entirely sure why the BBC pays so much attention to a small millitant group of people (the 'Biased BBC site') who only seem intent on intimidating the BBC into promoting their viewpoint.

I visited the Biased BBC site and to be frank it is at least honest in one respect - it certainly is biased! Any posting which dares object to the accepted line of thinking is ridiculed or insulted.

I thought the Newsround articles (old and new) were fine on the level at which they were targeted.

The only scandal here is that a tiny minority of people are allowed to try and negatively influence a great (and imho nearly always unbiased) broadcasting organisation.

  • 81.
  • At 04:35 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • xyzzy wrote:

never mind all the politics, isn't ``Sinead Rocks'' just the coolest name you've ever seen?

  • 82.
  • At 03:53 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • AidanB wrote:

As others have written, I think it is important to remember the audience. These guides are written for pre-teens who are wanting to find out more about why something has happened independently.

I think the BBC is behaving responsibly by trying to give a very simple, factual answer. The problem with using words like "murder" and giving the explanation that Al Qaeda hates the West (however accurate) is that they will distress young children reading an article on their own.

Ultimately such ideas can only be communicated one on one by parents. Parents are best placed to speak to their children, comfort them (reassuring them that they will keep them safe) and to talk about the moral issues.

It's a fine line to tread but I hope the Newsround team continues to walk it in the way they do now. They're doing a superb job.

  • 83.
  • At 02:45 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Mike wrote:

If Iraq had invaded the United States after Waco, for the death of the Branch Davidians, ill bet Americans would have roundly condemned Iraq. Right now Americans are attacking the Mormons and Muslims and have the gall to claim others dont allow the freedom of religion. American lies, hypocrisy, and brutality, deserve the most stinging indictment possible.

  • 84.
  • At 08:05 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • David Springer wrote:

Al Qaeda did not launch the 9/11 attacks because of American foreign policy.

Jihadists like Al Qaeda have committed acts of terrorism across the world - including many countries that have no confrontational foreign policies.

The reason for these attacks is simple: religious imperialism.

Jihadists follow a religious doctrine that requires them to fight in order to establish a global Islamic state under the rule of a Caliph.

This idea goes back, at least, to the foundation of Al Qaeda's parent organisation in in 1920's Egypt.

It is shameful that the BBC airbrushed out this ugly truth and, instead, decided to parrot the myth pedaled by those looking for another chance to criticize America.

  • 85.
  • At 01:58 PM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Simon wrote:

To be balanced presumably this woman should explain what al queda's objectives are through such acts of murder. Basically it is more of the same from the tax payer funded ivory tower of self righteous indoctrination from the BBC news rooms no members of which ever seem to have evolved from naive student politics.....life great when the taxpayer funds it!

  • 86.
  • At 09:31 PM on 30 Sep 2007,
  • Captain wrote:

Of course the US right-wing loons complained about the article. It didn't contain any mention that there is irrefutable evidence Saddam Hussein helped Al Qaeda perpetrate 9/11 or that he has WMDs. So where we the US-truth vigilantes when all that tosh was being spouted? Arguing it was all true of course.

  • 87.
  • At 04:50 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • paul j wrote:

Although Al-Qaeda are unhappy with US policy in the Middle East they have also stated that there aim is to create a global Muslim state, and have even offered to stop attacks if the US converts to Islam. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/cbbcnews/hi/newsid_6990000/newsid_6991100/6991137.stm). Therefore your ‘why they did it’ editorial should also include reference to the more basic objectives of Al-Qaeda of formaing a global Islamic caliphate.

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