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Coverage of the TUC rally

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Helen Boaden | 17:09 UK time, Tuesday, 29 March 2011

The news coverage of the BBC, perhaps more than any other media organisation, comes under intense scrutiny for fairness and impartiality. This is as it should be. Licence fee payers represent the views of the whole country and they have a right to expect that the BBC reflects the diversity of their views.

But, to paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, this past weekend has highlighted just how difficult it is for an impartial broadcaster to please all the people all of the time.

The extensive BBC News coverage of the TUC rally in central London featured interviews with major figures on the march, protestors and critics. Supporters were challenged regularly - and robustly - on their alternative to the Government's programme and the Cabinet Office Minister Frances Maude featured prominently throughout a day of rolling news. We also tried to set in context the relatively small scale of the violent demonstration and to put across the views of the vast number of peaceful marchers.

Despite all this the BBC finds itself criticised by one prominent MP and several newspaper columnists for being biased towards the protestors - at exactly the same time as fielding complaints from people who thought that we were too hard on the demonstrators and their cause. This was a big news story and feelings about the Government's economic programme run high on both sides.

It is perfectly true that it is sometimes difficult to strike the correct balance and I hold my hands up when we don't get it right. On this occasion, though, I think the BBC did serve its audiences appropriately and thoroughly.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    There was certainly a lack of balance on Newsnight but this is not unusual so it is high time that the editors are reminded of the requirement. Probably this is a direct result of all recruitment advertising being placed through the Guardian newspaper which means a surfeit of left wing views.

  • Comment number 3.

    'On this occasion, though, I think the BBC did serve its audiences appropriately and thoroughly.'

    If I had a quid for every time I hear that on Newswatch, I'd be able to afford my licence fee.

  • Comment number 4.

    To JunkMale #3

    RE: The TUC rally coverage
    So do you agree with it in this case?

    I haven't followed the coverage closely enough to make a comment either way.

    What would happen if you had a quid for everytime you received news that:

    * confirmed your beliefs even if they're sometimes misguided,
    * you didn't want to hear,
    * you felt wasn't important,
    * strengthened your prejudice?

    - maybe this could contribute to your finances.

  • Comment number 5.

    The problem with being impartial, is that the balance can be itself subjective. There is also the Orwell problem, viz. it is possible to steer a path between Left and Right, but not between Right and Wrong. In my opinion, the BBC is far too often unable to distinguish between these two dichotomies. This is a subtle problem, but is well illuminated by this discussion:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MdN3y8yRc6E

    There is also a significant number of 68ers in the BBC, i.e. those active in the anti-Vietnam protests of 1968. You can detect the sympathy for street protesters, regardless of the issue, in much BBC commentary. Humans make value judgements on emotional rather than rational criteria. The sympathy with anti-Americans, anti-Imperialists and anti-Capitalists is pretty much institutional in the BBC, based on the politics of envy - despite the 6-figure salaries rife in its commentariat - and such is its recruitment strategy that contrary views are far too often considered heresy.

    Sympathy is human and to be expected, bias is somewhat more pernicious. Unfortunately, once an organisation like the BBC has lost the trust of its viewers, it is very hard to get it back, and those who have lost trust will see bias even when it is not there. Have a look at the Biased BBC blog thinks of the BBC coverage of the unfortunate split screen juxtaposition of Miliband's speech with the riots.

  • Comment number 6.

    Please someone remove any mention of the Teaching Unions from this debate and march...highest starting salary in the public sector...highest number of paid holidays...(no they dont work when you're little darlingas are being put at great cost to you in alternative day care because you might lose your job otherwise!...oh and never open the school door until 1 minute to 9 even though we can see you all chatting to your mates and drinking coffee whilst your own child is "allowed" into the school when you arrive...heaven forbid you should have to pay childcare. And finally....as the Royal Wedding Public Holiday falls in many places during the Easter Holidays...the teachers in several local authorities (Wirral is one) have decided to give themselves an additional day to close the school during term ...as you would ! Those who can do! Those who can't teach

  • Comment number 7.

    So the BBC got complained at for showing the vast number of people who flooded into London to make a point that they felt the govt. was cutting too fast.

    And was complained at by the other side for focussing a lot of attention on a fairly small group on people who wanted to have a go at The Institutions.

    Generally I've found that if you get complained at by both sides for being too close to the other you are normally somewhere in the middle, between both camps.
    Where the BBC should be in other words.

    I think a lot of the upset comes from the fact that the BBC holds a special place in the identity of the nation (And that since we all pay we all feel it 'owes' us).
    If the BBC appears to show our view in a positive light (from our perspective) we are happy as it confirms we hold the centre ground.
    If it appears to show it in a negative light then we feel a sense of betrayal.

    This isn't the first time the BBC has been attacked from both sides (I think everyone knows the main issue there) and won't be the last.

    And as long as it upsets everyone equally. I'm happy.

    CT

  • Comment number 8.

    Saw it on television.

    Looked like any other average news day from Greece, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, etc. with lots of excited people jumping up and down, trying to overturn the Government.

    No pick-up trucks with machine guns, however - I guess the police kept them in the side streets, away from the crowds.

    Still, at least the US drones were monitoring events so, between them and the Great British Bobbies, I guess all can sleep safe tonight, knowing that the 'Great Revolution Of The Workers' is not yet dawned.

  • Comment number 9.

    Perhaps if you had said "A large number of people marched through London to protest at Government policy. It was a peaceful demonstration. Elsewhere in London a small group used the demonstration to deliver their own message by damaging property and committing public oder offences", you could have claimed to have "served your license payers".

    But you didn't - so you cannot.

  • Comment number 10.

    I wasn't on the march because, sadly, there always seem to be those with their own agenda who don't understand the meaning of peaceful protest.
    I volunteer for a local groups and lead (or help lead) health walks. Sadly the small amount of central help for admin and publicity is under threat with the cuts.
    The coalition's belt tightening isn't around the waist but around the neck, figuratively strangling the pre Big Society volunteers. It's not Big Society if (again figuratively) you destroy something and then proclaim the phoenix rising from the ashes!
    Research has suggested that each £1 invested in Health Walks saves £7 in healthcare. It seems to me that there is a corollary about what each £1 disinvestment (cuts!) will cost the health service (£7...).

  • Comment number 11.

    The BBC struggles to understand the claims of bias thrown at them constantly, this is mainly because the closed and cosy world that the BBC exists in is totally out of touch with the majority of people.

    More fundamentally, we are all biased, nobody is impartial and only by listening to more than one point of view can we begin to get an even picture of events.

    The problem is that BBC presenters and journalists love to enlighten us with their opinion of events, and this coupled with a definite BBC stance on every issues leads to very great bias on these stories.


    The coverage of the protest march, or as the BBC says repeatedly “the peaceful TUC march”, was biased from the very outset with absolutely no criticism of the participants or the naïve idea that we don’t need public sector cuts.

    But to be fair the BBC really doesn’t see the bias, is very hard to look out of their gilt lined ivory tower and see the issues from the point of view of the rest of us who actually have real jobs.

    The BBC has an agenda and a bias, maybe it’s a natural bias that comes from their pampered existence or maybe it stems from a deep desire to influence us and educate us all, to make us all better.
    The bias goes to the very root of the BBC’s makeup and pervades every story. It can be seen in the constant eulogising about the Olympics, no criticism allowed there!
    I see it every time I watch the BBC news, but fortunately once you realise it’s there you can compensate by taking a step to the right and then see the middle path.

  • Comment number 12.

    4. At 21:03pm on 29th Mar 2011, _marko wrote:
    To JunkMale #3


    And if I could add a bonus for every time even cut and paste can fail on the appellation front, that too would be nifty.

    RE: The TUC rally coverage
    So do you agree with it in this case?


    That 'agree with it' doesn't really help frame a reply*. Sorry.

    I haven't followed the coverage closely enough to make a comment either way.

    Well, thanks for chipping in on mine anyway.

    I did follow the coverage. *Wasn't too impressed, if that was what you meant. Less so at an attempt to justify it by, essentially, saying it was fine because the boss says so. Hardly persuasive.



  • Comment number 13.

    #9 Holly_bush_berry

    "Perhaps if you had said "A large number of people marched through London to protest at Government policy. It was a peaceful demonstration. Elsewhere in London a small group used the demonstration to deliver their own message by damaging property and committing public oder offences", you could have claimed to have "served your license payers".

    But you didn't - so you cannot."

    ---------------------------------------------------------

    Did you actually watch the coverage? Or just the headlines?

    I watched the full coverage for most of the day and the reporters did say that almost word for word, dozens of times throughout the afternoon / evening.

    It may not have been said as part of the headlines / BBC 1 coverage etc, but on the BBC News channel it was repeated many, many times.

  • Comment number 14.

    #13 s-slatt

    I was actually one of those protesting and my comment is based on what I watched after returning home, including commentary and opinion online. The BBC most certainly did not simply repeat "word for word" what I had stated, either on my radio (which I had with me) nor on BBC 24 hour news (which I have seen recordings of).

    So which planet were you on, so kindly slither down your "BBC is great" pole.

  • Comment number 15.

    I'm the first to admit that bias is a very subjective matter, and that there can be no strict definition of what constitutes impartiality.

    It would aid your protestations of genetic impartiality if you released the results of your regular reviews so that it could be seen how you judge bias. It simply isn't good enough to say "we aren't biased because I think we did OK".

    Or do you not carry out reviews? Do you just wing it and think that we'll accept you aren't biased because you say keep saying so?

  • Comment number 16.

    #14 Holly - If you were one of the ones protesting (I shall give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you were one of the peaceful ones), then you weren't watching the 24 hour BBC News channel, which is the only channel I was talking about and the only one I specifically mentioned, as that is what I was watching.

    I did not talk about the radio at all, as I didn’t listen to the radio so cannot comment on the coverage. Also, I specifically said the headline reports may not have had these words in them.

    I shall repeat my earlier assertion – The BBC News channel repeated those words dozens of times as part of their coverage. This is true, no matter what you say, or what your opinion (or my opinion) of the BBC is.


    FYI – after about 5 seconds of searching, here is a report which says something similar to what you keep stating doesn't exist. After about a minute of coverage of the main TUC rally, the report jumps to the West End and the following sentence is uttered;

    “This march was entirely peaceful, but at lunchtime a splinter protest began. We followed a group wearing masks through London’s West End, as they left a trail of destruction.”

    The reporter talks about what these “protesters” have been doing for another minute or so before heading back to the main rally and says;

    “The main march ended in Hyde Park, with many unaware of the trouble there’d been. The TUC said their act of marching should count, not acts of violence”

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-12871357

    Now it’s not exactly word for word, but I would say the sentiment was the same.

    And I will leave you with this final thought; Just because you didn’t see or hear something doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

  • Comment number 17.

    To JunkkMale #12

    RE: The TUC rally coverage
    What would have made it more impressive?

  • Comment number 18.

    '17. At 14:31pm on 30th Mar 2011, _marko wrote:
    RE: The TUC rally coverage
    What would have made it more impressive?'


    To kick off, if you will excuse the term, I'd have to say upfront that I am less keen on 'coverage' of news to be thought of in terms such as 'impressive'.

    Some may, have, and will disagree, but I am of the personal view that news should be, as much as possible, factual (accepting that one person's fact is another's anathema, and the edit suite can come into less than stellar play simply by what is shown, or not, across all sorts of criteria, from volume to quality of images, etc).

    It is when it gets into 'views' things go more astray, and various narrative-enhancing mechanisms get deployed which, again, and this time more seriously, can skew perceptions any way the controller of the playing field desires.

    It can be from the 'choice' of a 'guest' to comment, to the personal perceptions of a 'reporter' on a scene.

    I no longer can stoop down to the level the broadcast BBC News or News 24 (or, SKY, Ch4, etc, either) is aimed at, but do maintain an interest in such issues via the rampant extremes our print media in-a-state represent, online and certain key programmes.

    And I felt that things were not so much being shared as steered too often, perhaps exemplifed by these separate 'reports' by two of the most senior guys around in this arena:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/newsnight/paulmason/2011/03/a_snapshot_of_the_26_march_dem.html

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2011/03/not_the_usual_suspects.html

    These did not seem to represent a reflection of the country's possibly diverse views, as rather niche reflections of the worlds they inhabit.

    Even when 'it' was all over, bar a lot more shouting, what did we get from Newsnight but interviews with two young ladies I'd suggest were less than representative of the overall event composition and certainly not balanced in any way by considered thoughts from any other quarter. Or even justified by moving from what they all don't want to what they see as practical solutions beyond cuts, Cuts, CUTSSS!!! being shouted over and over, as if Mr. Byrne's sadly accurate greeting card from the old administration was somehow not accurate. Acting as uncritical PR for a less than thought through mindset can, and indeed did seem to lead to the very perceived divisions being acted upon that others 'warned' of (albeit less than sincerely).

    A meme continued throughout , and sometimes over-egged, as the fallout to this morning's R4 handover to partisan commentary seems to have highlighted.

    And in meeting the demands of objective news provision, I fear don't find that very impressive.

  • Comment number 19.

    And I will leave you with this final thought; Just because you didn’t see or hear something doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

    Yes, but you need documentation or word from a reliable source. Otherwise it's just hearsay.

  • Comment number 20.


    .

    As if to answer the marchers claiming their right to remain unaffected . . . . . .

    some wag of a politician said, disarmingly correctly, "There's no more money".

    I guess we have to believe him - he saw it happen.

    .

  • Comment number 21.

    The BBC has been accused of bias after it invited Zadie Smith, the author, to read out a five-minute lecture attacking library closures.

    Her comments, broadcast during the Today Programme on Radio 4, were an impassioned defence of libraries and "shared institutions" in Britain.

    The BBC has been criticised, however, for inviting Ms Smith to broadcast her comments without any interruptions or questions and for allowing the five minute piece to turn into a "party political broadcast".

    And you can guess which political party she was supporting, and which one she was attacking?.

    Ironically enough it was pointed out that the decision to close Kensal Rise library was taken by the local Labour-controlled Brent council, which has earmarked six libraries for closure.

    This is a disgraceful case of bias by the BBC with its constant attacks on the coalition government, and again proves how biased their reporting is.

  • Comment number 22.

    6. At 21:16pm on 29th Mar 2011, Public Servant wrote:

    Please someone remove any mention of the Teaching Unions from this debate and march...highest starting salary in the public sector...highest number of paid holidays...(no they dont work when you're little darlingas are being put at great cost to you in alternative day care because you might lose your job otherwise!...oh and never open the school door until 1 minute to 9 even though we can see you all chatting to your mates and drinking coffee whilst your own child is "allowed" into the school when you arrive...heaven forbid you should have to pay childcare. And finally....as the Royal Wedding Public Holiday falls in many places during the Easter Holidays...the teachers in several local authorities (Wirral is one) have decided to give themselves an additional day to close the school during term ...as you would ! Those who can do! Those who can't teach
    = = = = = = = =

    I can only assume some form of misplaced jealousy

    The fact is teaching is a very hard job - for (until recently) low pay. The reason for the increase in pay was to counter the massive numbers of teachers that leave because the conditions are too difficult for them. That's why there are TV ads trying to get more people into teaching. Called supply and demand.

    I assume you've never taught - I have.

    I used to take a group on holiday for two weeks every year - I used to work 60 hours a week during term time - and came into school during holidays to prepare science lessons - etc etc. Without the extra days holiday I would have left in my second year of teaching.

    I further have to ask - If is so cushy - why aren't you a teacher??

  • Comment number 23.

    21. At 06:53am on 31st Mar 2011, Rustigjongens wrote:

    The BBC has been accused of bias after it invited Zadie Smith, the author, to read out a five-minute lecture attacking library closures.

    Her comments, broadcast during the Today Programme on Radio 4, were an impassioned defence of libraries and "shared institutions" in Britain.

    The BBC has been criticised, however, for inviting Ms Smith to broadcast her comments without any interruptions or questions and for allowing the five minute piece to turn into a "party political broadcast".

    And you can guess which political party she was supporting, and which one she was attacking?.

    Ironically enough it was pointed out that the decision to close Kensal Rise library was taken by the local Labour-controlled Brent council, which has earmarked six libraries for closure.

    This is a disgraceful case of bias by the BBC with its constant attacks on the coalition government, and again proves how biased their reporting is.
    = = = = = = = ==

    Sorry - you seem to have forgotten the reason for the proposed closure is the Condem's cutting of Council Grant. I really don't see it as biased but a reporting of a point of interest.

  • Comment number 24.

    @RichardGrey, the bias is as I mention in the fact that the BBC gave Zadie Smith 5 minutes of uniterrupted airtime to attack the coalition, she used emotive language and incorrect facts to argue her case.

    The bias is clear, she was only supposed to discuss library closures, she did not, instead she attacked all parts of the coalition plans to resolve the economic mess. If you listen to the Today segment which is available on IPlayer you will I am sure agree that this 5 minute attack was in breach of the BBC guidelines, especially when their was no counter view given until 1 hour after she had made her bogus claims.

  • Comment number 25.

    23. At 10:10am on 31st Mar 2011, RichardGrey wrote:
    Sorry - you seem to have forgotten the reason for the proposed closure is the Condem's cutting of Council Grant. I really don't see it as biased but a reporting of a point of interest.

    But it wasn't reporting. It was allowing one side to make an unchallenged statement, but not the other. If that's not biased I don't know what qualifies.

  • Comment number 26.

    To Rustigjongens #24

    "no counter view given until 1 hour after she had made her bogus claims"

    So if you had only heard the counter view an hour later you would be complaining about bias in the opposite direction.

  • Comment number 27.

    24. At 13:18pm on 31st Mar 2011, Rustigjongens wrote:

    @RichardGrey, the bias is as I mention in the fact that the BBC gave Zadie Smith 5 minutes of uniterrupted airtime to attack the coalition, she used emotive language and incorrect facts to argue her case.

    The bias is clear, she was only supposed to discuss library closures, she did not, instead she attacked all parts of the coalition plans to resolve the economic mess. If you listen to the Today segment which is available on IPlayer you will I am sure agree that this 5 minute attack was in breach of the BBC guidelines, especially when their was no counter view given until 1 hour after she had made her bogus claims.

    = = = = = = = = =

    Sorry if the Condems had said to the council "We are cutting the grant for Libraries" I would agree with you.

    But they did not - they said (in my case) "You will not raise the Council Tax and you will also lose £36 million a year - so make cuts" - This means that any cut made by the council will be blamed ON the council - Because the Condems simply say " It is up to the Council what cuts they make - it's not our fault"

    So as it is the entire Condem policy causing the Library closures - Then she had every right to blame the closures on everything the Condems do - Not bias the truth.

    You may gather I don't approve in any way the policies of the Condems.

  • Comment number 28.

    @26, I pointed out that the counter argument was given 1 hour later, which is pointless as most today listeners would have been in their offices. Rather than attempt to misdirect the original thrust of my post, why don't you explain why it is acceptable for someone to speak for five minutes in clear breach of BBC policy?, also would you then accept that a BNP politican should also be allowed 5 minutes of airtime to attack all and sundry and only have a counter view 1 hour later?.

    @27, Again, she was only supposed to give her opinion on Libraries, she went off tangent and was allowed to do so without being stopped, it should not matter if you are a Labour supporter the fact is the BBC should have stopped her but the presenters choose not to, which you must accept is a clear breach of the guidelines.

  • Comment number 29.

    I have never voted conservative in my life so i do not have a right wing bias however i feel the bbc is very unfair to the current coalition govt. (note the word coalition)which so much of the media and commentators cannot seem to get their heads around despite their so called intellect ...David Dimblebey's shocking and shabby treatment of the leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats on Question Time recently was apalling........ to quote Mr. Dimbleby back to himself ...... we have had enough of you You are very lucky to have had an overpaid job for years on end...... please don't speak for us common people....the workers..... we have elected representatives for that .. nobody voted for you.

  • Comment number 30.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 31.

    In relation to the destructive few, BBC could have just had a small part showing a tiny bit of it and said, also on the demonstration a few abused the good nature of the protest in which to further their own position via using criminal activity to detract from the peaceful protesting of the vast majority.

    Just a few brief seconds of reporting on the thuggery/violence/vandals, the LESS media time they have the LESS relevent their actions are, give them media time and they will endemically seek to maintain it by continueing or even getting worse.

  • Comment number 32.

    @28 - I really don't think she went off at a tangent - she was commenting on the effects on libraries by the Condem's policies. I agree with her - In all honesty the BBC has very often given one view in one report in the past - and the counter view at a later programme. This has been accepted (at least by me) for years.

    @29 - Condem is a far better description of the present chaos than coalition - many MPs don't know what the other MPs are saying. It universally condemns the poor and vulnerable to poorer conditions - poorer pay - poorer benefits - poorer pensions. Not to mention it is a Tory party with a Lib-dem poodle - not a coalition as I understand it..


  • Comment number 33.

    Glad to see that you think you did so well, Helen. I disagree, I'm afraid. I will cite two examples.

    1. Splitting the screen while the Leader of the Opposition was making his speech to show a tiny group of totally unrelated protesters throwing paint at shop windows.

    2. Showing a VT of posing a question to Francis Maude in a nice calm studio. Then posing the same question to Sunny Hundal but cutting away from him to another small group getting rowdy in Trafalgar Square (footage that was not even live, as the same fireworks could be seen in the sky in the background on a loop), affectively making him a voice-over to images of violence.

    And don't tell me that you had to cover these things as they happened. What you would usually do is say to your guest "Excuse me Sunny, we have to go to a report, we'll come back to the interview". You were making an explicit and very distasteful link. If similar small-scale violence was going on outside a football match, you would never in a million years split the screen during a speech by the Queen or the PM and show the violence in the other half.

    I would be grateful for a response to these specific points.

    Thanks

  • Comment number 34.

    I agree with Alex Bermondsey. Bias can arise not just from what is said, but from how the programme is edited. Spliiting the screen with Ed Milliband on the one side and the violent protestors on the other looked as if the programme was making a link between the Labour leader and the violence which was quite unjustified. It is not sufficient excuse to insist that the message was conveyed verbally that the violent protestors were a small minority and the vast majority of the marchers were peaceful. TV is a visual medium. You need to convey the message visually and instead you conveyed the oppposite.
    As for the excuse that these events have to be reported as they happen I wonder if you will employ the same techniques when reporting the royal wedding? If there is violent disruption during the ceremony will you cut the screen in half and show William and Kate taking their vows alongside pictures of violent protestors smashing windows, because this happens to be going on at the same time?
    Finally, when Harriet Harman was being interviewed one morning this week and was answering a question about the content of the Labour leader's speech her face was removed from the screen and her answer was heard whilst shots of the violence on Oxford Street were shown. This seemed to repeat Saturday's wholly unjustified association between Ed. Milliband's speech and the violence.

  • Comment number 35.

    We are unaware of the number of the public overall who supported the TUC demonstration (to get back to the point.)
    Only a tiny number of "anarchists" became violent, whilst >250,000 marchers were clearly peaceful in their protests. I guestimate that the majority of the country would have supported the deminstration.
    We are in danger of mis-interpreting the facts on this occasion.

  • Comment number 36.

    I was watching BBC News 24 and it was not a balanced view at all! I complained to the BBC and got a stupid email back, I don't think that they even read my complaint! The news kept returning to the very tiny insignificant scuffle between a few people, not even part of the demo, and the police. I was watching Ed Miliband and it cut from his speech to this small mob and that was it. From then on it was pathetic, the item kept repeating and repeating until it had turned into something bigger, even though it was the same footage! It was much later when the mob entered shops etc.
    The BBC deliberately undermined the viewers, assuming that we wanted to see this "non-event"! I was reading the BBC HYS later and the whole episode had become amplified beyond belief, with everyone forgetting that there is far more violence against other people and property every weekend in our city centres! Pure propaganda.

  • Comment number 37.

    Since when has the bbc wanted to serve the interests of those paying for it unless they were also their interests, et al.The political potential of construing political events is much too important to be wasted as impartially reported topical anecdote.

  • Comment number 38.

    Funny watching the ever-faithful (not in a good way) Newswatch this morning.

    Usually you get a sulky editor saying they 'think we got it about right', and that's that.

    Today we had Ray Snoddy read out, somberly, on behalf of a senior colleague: 'On this occasion, though, I think the BBC did serve its audiences appropriately and thoroughly'

    Evidently that is considered worth telling often enough to try and gain traction.

    It is a well-used technique, to be sure, but one with a poor historical precedent.

  • Comment number 39.

    How about a simple vote, Helen? I am sure your web wizards are up to putting a simple poll on this page asking if the BBC got it about right; was biased in favour of the protesters; or was biased against the protesters. Or perhaps Helen already knows how most of us feel from her previous shellacking, and would prefer not to know.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/theeditors/2010/09/impartiality_is_in_our_genes.html

    I see another heretic (Michael Buerk) has put his head above the parapet. How many more before the Tripoli faction of Shepherds Bush offers its critics a bit more say on the agenda? Who knows, perhaps the BBC may start to recruit from the Telegraph or the Mail - just a little?

  • Comment number 40.

    It is your colourful blog that brings me a lot of konwledge about living. Thank you so much. And wish you better in the future.

  • Comment number 41.

    Dear Helen,

    I saw your reference to Abraham Lincoln.
    It's a generalization alot of Americans use and got spread around the world.
    His 1858


  • Comment number 42.

    I thought that the BBC coverage could have been a little more "biased" against the morons attempting to smash up certain targetted premise in London. After all, criminal are criminals, even middle and upper class ones!
    Unfortunately on BBC Any Questions? on R4, one of the lady panel members complained loudly about "police brutality" against "biscuit eating children".
    I agreed totally with the loud roar of indignation from the studio audience, as a seemingly ultra left wing personage slanted her answer vis-a-vis the criminal damage of the yobs to suit her own prejudices.
    Luckily Any Answers contained massive repudiation of the speaker, and her views, seeming to agree it was alright to be violent as the yobs were, as long as she could assert her anti police prejudice.
    Having her on the programme was a mistake, but thanks BBC for allowing REAL opinions on the Any Answers Saturday programme.
    So, no BBC bias on Radio 4. It dealt with the "riots" with the dignity and impartiality we Radio 4 listeners are accustomed to. Very professional as usual. Thank you!

  • Comment number 43.

    Hi Helen.

    I see you have returned to the idea of BBC impartiality. Why? The
    BBC's status as a left-wing, pro-Labour news outlet whose editorial line is
    set by The Guardian is hardly in doubt is it? Your own Director-General, Mark
    Thompson, publicly acknowledged the BBC's bias against Margaret Thatcher as
    reported here. (That's a link to The Daily Telegraph by the way, so you won't have seen it before.)

    Now, according to your BBC biography here you joined the BBC in 1983, right in the middle of the era of anti-Thatcher bias. Did you not notice? Or did you regard "massive bias to the left" (Thompson's words) as being exactly the sort of impartiality that the BBC should provide?

    Thompson, of course, would like us to believe that it's all different now. A
    shame then that Jim Naughtie can't be bothered to conceal his
    pro-Labour and anti-Conservative bias - but then he is a former Chief Political Correspondent for The Guardian so what can you expect?

    I wouldn't care how biased you choose to be, if I weren't forced
    to pay a tax that finances your pro-Labour agenda - but since I am then I care
    very much.

  • Comment number 44.

    Rubbish its typical pro tory bbc bias again.
    Anything to make the tories look angels and anyone who dares to call them what they really are as anti-something instead of pro-Britain.
    The BBC are just the PR department for teh tories rather than doing what their contract with us teh british people says they should do.

  • Comment number 45.

    look! the church of england is the tory party at prayer,the beeb is the tory party giving fair and impartial views on politics.i remember the "beeb" and its impression of impartiality throughout the miners strike,you covered yourself in glory throughout that epoch in our industrial history,you are so london orientated i doubt you have the moral capacity to be fair or impartial in anything.the whole management pyramid at broadcasting house is based on creating jobs for the public school fraternity.it is the ipitome of the blinked view point,don't you think??how can you possibly understand the ethos of such bodies as the TUC,they are nothing to do with or have any impact on the lives of those in charge at the beeb.they will, by definition, take the right wing point of view because of their ignorance supported by their education. as a liecence fee payer (i always pay on time too)i feel short changed also paradoxedly i'm proud of the BBC,all that is needed is for the beeb to do her duty and speak for "ALL"the country.....

  • Comment number 46.

    Yes it is difficult to create an impartial report, however the BBC quite plainly do not even try to do this, take the coverage of the disturbances in Bristol; the headline highlights the number of police that were hurt, and there is a further highlight regarding MP Kerry McCarthy'S comments that focuses on damage to police cars.

    Not balanced at all is it? What about the rest of her comments, which are far more interesting?

    Perhaps the BBC should just employ K Burley and give up the pretence.

  • Comment number 47.

    Stating that the BBC is right or left wing biased is undermining complaints against it's impartiallity, it is neither, this is underlined by the fact that people are claiming both.

    The BBC is biased towards the establishment, and more recently large corporations.

  • Comment number 48.

    Five firmly Tory supporting newspapers and 1 Old Labour paper. 5 Tory supporting news reporting services and 1 news service legally bound to remain impartial. It's hardly a balanced system of news reporting when the BBC is accused of Left wing bias on the basis that there is nothing further Left than them on TV. Just because the majority of broadcasters say it, doesn't mean it is so.
    All it really demonstrates is just how far to the right all the voiceboxes of our "consume at any cost" society have swung.

  • Comment number 49.

    Helen, you're quite right in saying that the BBC will never quite satisfy everybody. I think the MPs in this instance are just being opportunistic - particularly if you read the BBC editor blog comments on most posts which seem to indicate, if anything, that the BBC rarely ever favours protesters.

  • Comment number 50.

    Helen, you just have to read the spread of comments on similar blog posts on the BBC. They will reveal as many people violently claiming that BBC is pro protestors as they are claiming that BBC is against protestors. The people may disagree but the important take away is that it's pretty balanced - empirical evidence that the viewpoints BBC are capturing and reporting are impartial.

    The same sort of thing happened with the Jody McIntryre incident in December last year. If you look at the blog comments on the subject on Kevin Bakhurst's blog (of which there were many!), you'd find plenty both for and against the BBC. The BBC reports fairly I say.

    Pratish - Politics blog

  • Comment number 51.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

 

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