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Why BBC journalists risked visits to Homs

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Fran Unsworth Fran Unsworth | 14:00 UK time, Monday, 5 March 2012

BBC correspondent Paul Wood and cameraman Fred Scott have been reporting on the situation in the Syrian city of Homs. There they have found harrowing accounts of people fleeing the fighting with accusations of atrocities by the Syrian security forces. (You can read Paul's latest report here.)

A man carries a Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) in the al-Hamidiya neighbourhood of Homs

 

It's the second trip Paul and Fred have made to the Homs area within a matter of weeks. They were there in early February reporting from the city under siege. Since then, the Syrian security forces have launched an all-out onslaught to take control. It was this fighting that claimed the lives of Sunday Times journalist Marie Colvin and Remi Ochlik and injured others who had become trapped in the besieged city.

It has been suggested that such deployments are not worth making, and we should not put the lives of journalists at risk when there is so much material provided by local Syrians. Some say such deployments are driven by the spirit of competition in the news business, and that there is too much focus on the bravery of the journalists rather than the plight of the Syrian people, who cannot get across the border to a comfortable hotel in Beirut.

These are all good arguments which should be considered when planning such a trip as the one Paul and Fred have undertaken. As far as the risk to the team is concerned, it comes down to the question: "What is the editorial value in such a risky venture, and is it worth the potential loss of life or injury that may result?"

Obviously we do as much as we can to ensure they will not get hurt. We look at what the risks might be:
• getting injured or killed in fighting
• being specifically targeted because they are journalists
• being arrested by the Syrian forces.

We try to minimise as many of these risks as we can. But of course it is not possible to eliminate every risk, as the team themselves know only too well.

Marie Colvin

Marie Colvin

So why do individual journalists do it, and why are these ventures supported by their editors?

This weekend, the Sunday Times photographer Paul Conroy, injured in the attack which killed Marie Colvin, paid tribute to her by describing her as one of the "greatest observers" of her time.

This seems to me to sum up why it is important that news organisations that are trusted by the public and do not have a political agenda should continue to try to put their reporters on the ground.

The purpose of reporting is to provide evidence and to interpret on behalf of viewers, listeners and readers.

Paul and Fred have filed horrendous reports of people fleeing from terrible atrocities. They do need to be verified, but if true, journalists are playing a vital role in ensuring we know what is going on there.

Fran Unsworth is head of Newsgathering at BBC News.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    A lot at play in getting to grips with motivations to results.

    On why 'they' do it, I prefer to rely mostly on what 'they' say, vs. what others take on, on their behalves.

    Which is interesting these days, as much as it has been before.

    I watched a great doco on the History channel about war photographer Dickie Chapelle recently (going to be a movie too).

    Beyond it being what she was born to do, two things struck me, as the end point of all such efforts: the viewer.

    First was her frustration of what she captured raw being massaged into what editorial passed on to the public, when often there was a disconnect.

    And second was her inability not to get personally invested with whosoever she was embedded.

    I don't doubt her courage, but all was her choice. I also now have even more of an eyebrow cranked when what is shared is advised as what is, vs. what has been chosen to be seen. And then, too often, interpreted in the edit suite back home.

    Not much has changed.

    Rather key when you read stuff like this: 'why it is important that news organisations that are trusted by the public and do not have a political agenda should continue to try to put their reporters on the ground.'

    Saying it don't make it any more so.

  • Comment number 2.

    'when there is so much material provided by local(s)'

    Well, that has not stopped the BBC in other areas of contention and conflict.

    And given some of what has resulted from such 'sources', paraded as fact with the most basic and credulous verification, its value can be treated with as much heft as, well, so much that is so happily garnered via Twitter these days, which is working so well too.

    I am confident that such as Paul and Fred are ensuring what Paul and Fred know is brought to us. As to whether that is all there is, or all we need to know, or being shaped as objectively as it might be... that is less surely less certain than being claimed.

  • Comment number 3.

    2. At 15:29 5th Mar 2012, You wrote:
    Your comment has been referred for further consideration
    --

    Just a guess, but those journos who risk life and limb in pursuit of the full story, and free speech, might appreciate the irony of what happens back home and places such as here. Or maybe, not.

  • Comment number 4.

    Until you do, I merely repaste the quote:

    'This seems to me to sum up why it is important that news organisations that are trusted by the public and do not have a political agenda should continue to try to put their reporters on the ground.'

    I presume you can't object to that being up in lights in all its glory?

  • Comment number 5.

    "it is important that news organisations that are trusted by the public and do not have a political agenda should continue to try to put their reporters on the ground."

    Which ones do you have in mind?

  • Comment number 6.

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

  • Comment number 7.

    Fran Unsworth is head of Newsgathering from twitter at BBC News.

  • Comment number 8.

    They are bound by their conviction to hindu secularism, self center ism in ignorance, labeled as human rights, without knowing the meanings of word right. Right means limits and rights are wages earned of discharge of duties, rights are irresponsibility and irresponsibility a liabilities, accountable to accountability. No accountability no rights, only a fool can say otherwise but way of secular, self centered in denial of truth absolute.

  • Comment number 9.

    I think that Paul and Fred are doing a fantastic job which most of us would shrink from. If this means that those of us who try to follow the news (and sometimes even react to it via yourselves, our MPs and in other forums) can get reasonably unbiased news on which to base our reactions and opinions, then I thank them most sincerely for their efforts.

  • Comment number 10.

    Fran seeks to imply that the BBC does not have a political agenda. Although the Charter says otherwise, I say that it manifestly does with regard to Syria and did concerning Libya.
    I am prepared to demonstrate this using the BBC's own writings.

    In the instant case, heroics are claimed by reason of being embedded with rebels or because one interviews them as they flee in the night from Homs. Did it ever occur to the more experienced journalists to interview Syrian citizens who elected to stay in Homs?

    If it is beyond your journalistic capability to find them, I can put you in contact with Homs residents who, like the majority of Syrians, support their government.

    To avoid becoming too critical, I will cut off this comment here, for now.

  • Comment number 11.

    @#6 WHYS is not what the innocent think it is. The BBC and its reputation would be better without it.

  • Comment number 12.

    In February I watched a video clip of Paul Wood with a few Syrian fighters under fire from the Syrian army in Homs. It seemed that a bullet richocheted off a wall just behind him. Now that he is back under fire again in Homs, one can only admire his bravery and commitment to bringing actual news in real time to the world.

    In stark contrast, the BBC's reporting on Libya was a disgrace. Its "journalists" cheered on the rebels against Gaddafi from way behind them. In fact, they stayed so far out of the action that they had no idea what was going on. An anchor on the World Service sounded embarrassed as he tried to get some information on the situation out of a journalist "on the ground" who could tell him absolutely nothing.

    Now Fran Unsworth comes up with this article as if Paul Wood and Fred Scott represent standard BBC quality reporting. They don't. They are the exception that proves the rule of the BBC's timid failure to report in conflict areas.

  • Comment number 13.

    6. Mr. Wonderful:

    "Sorry to put this here, but why is every item on the 'Have Your Say' page closed for comments? So I'm having my say here instead.

    How about removing the stories from HYS once they're closed for comments, or is that too obvious?"

    I used to comment on HYS until it became clear from all the changes that the BBC was going out of its way to prevent people from having their say. So yes, I agree. In fact, the BBC should just be honest about it and and do away with HYS completely.

  • Comment number 14.

    3. At 07:57 6th Mar 2012, TrueToo wrote:
    " In fact, the BBC should just be honest about it and and do away with HYS completely."
    I agree 100%. Most of it these days is "dead threads", where we are invited to comment on the deaths of "celebrities" as defined by the Entertainments Editor, I assume. The major issues of the day are seldom opened up for comment on HYS. Unless you count the latest "research" showing that tea/coffee/alcohol/sleep/butter/margarine is good/bad for you, as a major issue.

  • Comment number 15.

    14. 08:14 6th Mar 2012, jammydodger,

    True. I recall at the time the BBC were beginning to nail the HYS coffin down, a justification they used was that they were "not looking to host a community." It was BBC-speak for "we're not really interested in your opinions and we are no longer prepared to pretend that we are."

  • Comment number 16.

    The pictures I've seen of terrified flight do not seem harrowed or atrocious; either Syrians from Homs are the most serene & curious, or they are simply puzzled (maybe by the cameras).
    I don't know who has launched an all-out onslaught to take control, but it could as easily be foreign infiltrators, foreign trouble-makers as the Syrian Army. Marie Colvin & Remi Ochlik (God rest their souls.) placed themselves in a besieged situation, or worse were placed there by order (I will not guess of whom.).
    What sort of story makes such a deployment worthwhile? What sort of story is worth the life of one journalist or photographer. In this day in age where we can shoot a grasshopper at fifty feet, why is it necessary to have human lives placed on the line? Does it make better human interest, as in the old cliché: "It bleeds; it leads."
    Since you ask: "What is the editorial value in such a risky venture, and is it worth the potential loss of life or injury that may result?"
    I cannot believe that it is necessary to embed a human being in a place where the real story (one side only - maybe) can be attained.
    Obviously you do as much as we can to ensure they will not get hurt. You look at what the risks might be:
    • getting injured or killed in fighting - it bleeds; it leads.
    • being specifically targeted because they are journalists - Doubt this one.
    • being arrested by the Syrian forces - Have you heard of one that you did not get back quickly and unharmed?
    So why do individual journalists do it, and why are these ventures supported by their editors?
    You tell me, when there are other technical methodologies.
    I have always placed my trust in BBC, but as time goes by I have also come to believe that BBC does have a bias, a political agenda. The purpose of reporting does not provide evidence - blood and bodies - but not evidence about when, where, why… You do more interpretation on behalf of viewers, listeners and readers than perhaps you intend, but the interpretation is there. (Say something often enough, and it will come to be believed.)
    Paul and Fred have filed horrendous reports of people fleeing from terrible atrocities. They do need to be verified, but hardly ever are. Journalists are playing a political role ensuring that we get with the western programming, get mad at the right people, take the right side - the western side.

  • Comment number 17.

    It would be nice if we got to see the other point of view, I'm sure I'm not the only one rather suspicious of the claims made by the terrorists in Homs that there are mass murders being carried out.

    For example on a BBC report the reporter stated that all the boys were being stopped from leaving and being killed, yet clearly in the background you could see lots of boys and young men.

    When Israel attacks the Palestinians the BBC are never slow to give us the Palestinian side of the story, so why isn't the BBC giving us the WHOLE story here?

    The BBC are not reporting that the Muslim terrorists in Homs are attacking Christians or killing Christians or the terrorists in Homs are the ones stopping people leaving and using them as human shields.

    The BBC (and ITV/Sky) are a disgrace with their one sided reporting.

  • Comment number 18.

    '3. At 16:11 5th Mar 2012, You wrote:
    2. At 15:29 5th Mar 2012, You wrote:
    Your comment has been referred for further consideration


    Thanks you for the re-instatement, but I am intrigued as to what triggered its referral in the first place

  • Comment number 19.

    The BBC really needs to go back to balanced reporting. Was nothing learned from Libya? Sadly my prophecy of Libya becoming a country run by wild gangs (thanks to UK) has come true. The BBC, however un-intentionally,misled the UK public with distorted reporting from journos embedded with the militias. Syria ? C'est la même chose

  • Comment number 20.

    I want the BBC to explain why it avoids any discussion by licence payers about child sex gangs and grooming by asians in our country! The BBC still seems to treat the licence payer like numpties who should be given the politically correct party line!
    Before commercial radio, we were force fed the views of the middle class, BBC tv and radio has not changed one iota and in fact now pushes its multi cultural middleclass ideology, whilst the country seems to creep closer to the abyss! Serving the nation, I think not.

  • Comment number 21.

    We feel that no one will ever be right in this world. We all want to know the news good or bad. But hats of to the journalists who do all the reports.

  • Comment number 22.

    I have proposed that ISPs combine and provide a world-wide satellite internet service. This is non western and non political. The funding is multi-sourced. For example we can pay for the service in the UK and opt in or out of a charitable contribution that funds a free service in states such as Afganistan which doesn't even have a mail service.

    NGOs can collect and distribute unwanted older generation smart phones to developing countries and truth can be freely accessed and reported from all corners of the globe.

  • Comment number 23.

    I wonder why the BBC never has anyone representing the Syrian government in its news coverage of Syria. Also never anyone who is advocating against military intervention. Also interested why the BBC does not report the pro government demonstrations in Syria today?

  • Comment number 24.

    Thank you to all journalists who risk so much, and give so selflessly of their time & energy (most of you could find a calmer living in another discipline) so that the world might know the truth.

    In addition to the extraordinarily courageous reporting from Homs, Syria and across the Middle East, I want to especially thank BBC for the vital, thorough and accurate reporting on the elections in Russia, and the due diligence accorded the opposition's side of the story.

    Thank you very much, Bridget Kendall and everyone working for BBC in Moscow and all around the Russian-speaking world. Your illuminating reports give us all hope that someday, Russians will also be able to enjoy the freedoms and basic rights we who have been lucky enough to live our lives in the West too often take for granted!

    I expect to see many more embarrassing revelations about further Putin missteps and abuses -- as we can already see what a major foreign policy disaster he has generated with his determined & inexcusable defence of first, Gaddaffi, and now, Assad...

    It is thrilling to look at the growing list of countries that have successfully rid themselves of dangerous, despotic, dysfunctional rulers. Journalism has played a huge part in securing the freedoms of the many millions these nations are home to.

    Someday, let us hope sooner rather than later, Russia's name will also be added to this list -- and also in no small measure to the decency and excellence of your reporters!

  • Comment number 25.

    "Decency" and "excellence" are not words that apply to the willful deception of the public from Iraq, through Libya and now Syria. Only a full scale inquiry by the Trust can clean out the obvious corruption within the BBC.

  • Comment number 26.

    I'm horrified by the bias towards the rebels in Syria. I mean, when the UN are demanding unilateral ceasefire by the government forces, doesn't anybodys alarmbells go? Come on, really.
    Al Jazeera and CNN sent "interviews" of the opposition, that was later shown to be pure propaganda, and that's not the only case. Surely there is another agenda here.

    To me it looks as every report on Syria from CNN, Al Jazeera, and BBC have been produced to ferment the western bias towards the opposition. At first I believed that Assad was a crazy warcriminal, that shoot his one citicens, until I understood I was lied to by the western media in a well orchestrated propaganda-campaign to make way for a regime-change in Syria.

    Assad was telling the truth all along, "only a madman would shoot on his one people", "we are being attacked by western powers", "we are fighting armed terrorists". So please, don't be a instrument in this western psy-op. At least acknowledge that there are two sides to this story.

    Sure there were peaceful protests, but some western countries hijacked it, and are fighthting alongside syrian army defects, Al Queda, and french special forces. What about the report that Assad has captured either 13 or 120 french troops in a ambush some weeks ago, does anyone know more about that?

  • Comment number 27.

    This is worthwhile area for blogs. One's sympathy in the UK is almost totally for the rebels in Syria, and a lot of this feeling comes from reports of erstwhile and other brave reporters in these areas of conflict. Some blogs speak out in favour of the Syrian regime, but there is little first hand reporting from the front line for that faction. It is difficult not to conclude that the Syrian administration is invloved in a modern day massacre similar to that in Sabra and Shatila masterminded by the Israeli army in Lebanon.

  • Comment number 28.

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

  • Comment number 29.

    Why won't the west agree to condemn violence on both sides of the Syrian fighting?

    I know it's not popular to speak against the Syrian rebels, but my point remains valid. The situation now is so grave, the prime objective must be for all violence in Syria to stop immediately, on both sides. And then facilitate for The Red Cross/Crescent to deliver the badly needed help. The Syrian government and the different rebel groups all have to be persuaded to allow access, as rebels have denied access, and even been keeping civilians as human shield.

    I don't know why the western forces in the UN will not agree with Russia and China to demand that both The Syrian Army, and the rebels, submit to a ceasefire. One can argue that China and Russia are stubborn, but the flip side is that the western countries refuse to condemn violence on both sides.

    There have been demonstrated for different issues, and different groups have taken advantage of the situation, but the foreign meddling has caused turmoil in a delicate balance. Syria is not a candidate for the arab spring.
    It seems the west have wanted a regime-change in Syria since before the demonstrations turned violent. Until recently, Assad had the support of a good two thirds of the country, and for the west to then push for a regime change in that volatile situation is undemocratic, and highly irresponsible.

  • Comment number 30.

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

  • Comment number 31.

    I cannot see the point of journalists risking their lives, or even their cameras, in these places, when the news content is manufactured to fit in with the biased views held by the BBC with regard to the Middle East. A bit like sending a BBC science reporter to a conference on climate change skepticism. Advice to reporters: stay in Salford, it is dangerous enough there, and no need to add further risks.

  • Comment number 32.

    '31. At 08:47 13th Mar 2012, ProfPhoenix - A bit like sending a BBC science reporter to a conference on climate change skepticism'

    Has one ever been? Sent, I mean. Can't imagine any going without a huge dose of clearance from on high being bestowed first. Like employing an economics editor who hasn't ticked a few of the 'right' boxes first.

    To be fair, they would be pretty safe, unless one counts emotional injury from the rigours of ridicule.

    Especially as, these days, all can be sorted in post.

  • Comment number 33.

    BBC, thank you for accepting my request.
    I am a talk show host here in Trinidad and Tobago, at present my co host and I are interviewing someone who was actually involved in the Abdul Malick murder of British socialite Ms. Gale ann Benson. To our shock and horror, we are searching the BBC archives for some audio or news clip that we are sure the BBC would have covered back in 1972/73 when the trial took place in T&T but nothing is available. I am beginning to think that there is a deliberate attempt to bury this story so deep that not one name entered from the trial weather from T&T or England is coming up with any result. I hope I am wrong but, can someone tell me where can I find some news clip from the BBC of that world infamous trial? Thank you.

  • Comment number 34.

    All western media reports on Marie Colvins death have said she died by Syrian Army shelling. Not mentioned is her autopsy, showing she actually died from an Improvised Explosive Device filled with nails.

    I'm no expert on the Syrian Army, but I do know the Syrian Army have proper conventional weapons, they don't use IEDs. But if it doesn't fit the western political narrative, most western media won't report it.

  • Comment number 35.

    34. At 03:19 14th Mar 2012, respawn wrote:
    All western media reports on Marie Colvins death have said she died by Syrian Army shelling. Not mentioned is her autopsy, showing she actually died from an Improvised Explosive Device filled with nails.


    A comment from the world's largest, and most trusted broadcaster, would be appreciated on its blog thread covering this topic.

  • Comment number 36.

    There is one point I would like to see clarified. The sentence "So why do individual journalists do it, and why are these ventures supported by their editors?" implies that the journalists are on the BBC payroll and have a line manager at the BBC. [Also personally insured by the BBC?] But is this actually the case, or are they freelance journalists that a BBC editor has agreed to pay for such a story from such a location?

    The difference seems important to me. A freelance journalist has greater credibility as being relatively free from BBC editorial biases (real or imagined). Perhaps they might also have a greater degree of "copy approval" such that the BBC editing could not misrepresent them? While it is true that such reporters may well have a greater degree of bias, if the nature of the terms of employment is transparent then the readers and viewers are better able to come to their own conlusions in an informed manner.


    Also, as post #31 notes, what would be the point of sending sending someone like their notorious Science and Environment "reporter" to a conference on the subject of climate? We already know what the tone of the article is going to be, and the politics and biases appear much more "settled" than the science.

    .

  • Comment number 37.

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

  • Comment number 38.

    Sad day to see the departure of Sian from Breakfast. To learn that she is being replaced by the dreadful Suzannah Reid is disappointing to say the least; it was bad enough putting up with her on Friday's. Even Bill won't be able to deflect her unprofessionalism. I for one will be changing my viewing habit. I think I will stick to the radio with Chris Evans.

  • Comment number 39.

    '38. At 12:48 15th Mar 2012, Graeme - I think I will stick to the radio with Chris Evans.'

    On a professionalism basis as a cheeky chappie, without peer.

    As a tribal political donor (nice spare cash if you can afford it) conducting news interviews... hmnnn.

  • Comment number 40.

    '35. At 12:01 14th Mar 2012, JunkkMale
    34. At 03:19 14th Mar 2012, respawn
    Not mentioned...

    A comment from the world's largest, and most trusted broadcaster, would be appreciated on its blog thread covering this topic.


    Anytime you're ready.

    It seems... important.

  • Comment number 41.

    On the one-year anniversary of "the Syrian uprising", with tens of thousands of Syrian demonstrators for the regime, for, not against. Isn't it time to question what this is all about?
    We will explore a little what the scene is, the western strategy for overthrowing Assad, the Syrian Protesters, and the rebels or western terrorists.

    Well, it's really simple. The western agenda has the whole time been a plan to overthrow the Assad regime. In any western country, a campaign to overthrow the regime, from the outside like that, would be promptly be crushed, I mean, how do western countries deal with terrorists? That's what is happening in Syria now. Except in this case, it is western powers that are the terrorists.
    Back to the agenda, the west have set a target, to assassinate Assad, and instill a puppet government that will act as a platform for controlling the general region of the country. But they have miscalculated the peoples support of Assad, of course the 97.6% he got in last election doesn't mean anything, but he has a good 2/3 real support in the people. So the campaign is not democratic, they are actually preventing democracy, and really jeopardising the upcoming election on may 7.

    The western strategy is for the UN to impose a unilateral ceasefire forcing Assad to , and of course, Russia and China are not benefiting from any regimechange in Syria,
    There were some legitimate Arab Spring countries,, but that wave has been hijacked some say, infiltrated maybe, by western powers, just like Assad has been saying. The western media agenda is set by coordinated leaks from lobbying- and public-relations-organizations, often sponsored by covert front-organisations for CIA with oil-and weapons- companies. And public statements, where journalists on routine, and willingly, relay what way readers are to feel about an issue. If the person is important enough, journalists will relay the message without bothering if it's true or not. When Hillary Clinton makes a statement, journalists are going to report it. No, I do believe that journalists genuinely believe in what they are reporting, but it does not reflect the opinions of the actual average Syrian. In this conflict, Avaaz has been the instrument for producing fake news-reports, supplying camera and satellite equipment to rebels, and hiring actors. Like the guy i talked about earlier. This is a grotesque case of a "Wag the dog" propaganda-campaign. You know, the movie "Wag the dog", where a president invents a war using spindoctors and hollywood to divert attention from a personal scandal.
    end part 1

  • Comment number 42.

    One has to ask, who are giving money to Avaaz, SNC and other western-funded institutions. And some Arabian countries have probably been supplying weapons. Most reports from Syria have come from "rebel sources". I have sympathy for the need for some sources to remain anonymous, but the generic term "rebel forces", on every report out of Syria invites misuse of trust.
    Even the Marie Colvin case, where she supposedly was killed by government shelling, and the autopsy show she was actually killed by an IED, she was killed by the rebels.
    And now, really loss of trust in the media, since massive abuse have been seen, over and over.
    And there seem to be a total lack of inquisitiveness on certain aspects from journalists in the mainstream media, now is that due to neglect, willingly adhering to a preconceived narrative, are the journalists hypnotized, or have they been threatened? And there are these uncritical relaying of reports of Syrian forces saturating the borders with antiperonnell-mines, as it were something new to keep the Syrians from fleeing, they have always been there, the mines, on Syrian side, on Israeli side. But no, it's the sensationalist reporting to vilify the present government. Now journalists are frantically backpaddling to get out of this mess without loosing face over being lied to, and lying to the audience. One of the strategies of the western forces has been to manipulate the sectarian divisions in and around Syria. There were no sectarian problems until the west interfered and put secterianism on the agenda The Assad regime is an minority, is it better for the country that the majority rules? will that guarantee justice? The west of course try to appeal to the: The Wahabi rebels, The Free Syrian Army, The Al Quaeda supporters, The French special forces, The Armed Demonstrators, Muslim Brotherhood, Libyan fighters, African mercinaries,
    Any group really that can make any kind of friction in the society.

    I don't think all the media operate on a politically censored narrative, moreover I believe journalists are constrained by culturally instilled bias, wanting to please their readers, and trying to fulfill the desk editors expectations. Of course personal political standing will influce what journalists write, but the notion of a grand media conspiracy is false. moreover the control is in the political elite level. Most politicians are also not aware of the ways they are controlled by their peers and their seniors
    This is how you get those totally different realitys portrayed by those with different agendas. For the genuine Syrians outside Syria, like the Syrian Social Club , that are truly representative for the Syrian sentiment, the whole thing is frustrating. It's hard to argue against the anti-Assad campaigners, with their total grip on the media. But as the lies crack the image of the rebels, the truth is slowly emerging.

    To get away with this big scam, they would have to kill president Bashar al-Assad. A lie this big would not hold up in the ICC. So that was definitely the plan by the western leaders from the start, of the Syrian uprising. The support to the rebels with veapons and resources, makes the bloody fight draw out in time, and really is unethical.

    The actual conclusion for the uprising in Syria, will be that the Syrian government continue fighting until the rebels only can perform a few terror-attacks, and the Syrian government will continue with their planned democratic reforms, like the recently approved new constitution that was voted for. As Assad still has the support of the absolute majority of Syrians, things will settle in the election at may 7., and The UN envoys, Annan, and Baroness Valeri Amos, and all that, will reveal that the few genuine activists, are in a minority, and the terrorists have largely been defeated, really, so hopefully Syria can return to normal relations with the world, and the campaign against Assad will end. Now is the time to focus on the Syrian people, who largely hasn't noticed what we have seen from the west, even if they have been watching the sattelite news and have Internet access, when looking on the streets - it doesn't look like the same realities, so, we should let Annan do his job. Pushing for a regime-change now is unethical and highly irresponsible.

  • Comment number 43.

    Although I don't agree with everything in my last post (It was hastily written during a conversation with a friend who lives in Syria), I think Assad will survive both politically and physically. He has too much support in the people.

    40. At 16:31 15th Mar 2012, JunkkMale wrote:

    '35. At 12:01 14th Mar 2012, JunkkMale
    34. At 03:19 14th Mar 2012, respawn
    Not mentioned...

    A comment from the world's largest, and most trusted broadcaster, would be appreciated on its blog thread covering this topic.

    Anytime you're ready.

    It seems... important.


    A comment on the Marie Colvin killing would be good indeed, did she die from an accident? Was it an attack by a rivaling rebel group? Who made it look like a government shelling incident?

    Also, why are the western countries so reluctant to condemn violence on both sides? Is it because there are French soldiers on the other side fighting, and such a revelation would be scandalous?

  • Comment number 44.

    Car bombs in Damascus

    At least 27 people have been killed and 97 wounded in two explosions in the Syrian capital Damascus, officials say.

    The BBC's Lina Sinjab said Syrian TV says the attacks are the work of ''terrorists''

    That's what they say on other news too. "Terrorists" in quotes.

    Would you call it anything other than terrorists??

    When car bombs hit police buildings and government security buildings, you generally would call it terrorists, you really don't need the quotes. Nobody seriously believe the government have staged this, as some rebels have claimed.

    Will the western public acknowledge the Syrian government have a legitimate right to go after the terrorists? In any other country, terrorists and armed militia would be fiercely crushed.
    Next time you hear Hillary Clinton, think how she would act if it was the USA.

  • Comment number 45.

    A representative of the Syrian Social Club did get on BBC's NEWSHOUR this morning. It was an startling change to hear someone present informed facts about the Syrian situation. Perhaps it was slip-up, however, for the interview was not repeated in the evening edition.

    I suspect that we are getting editorially determined policy dressed as news. An individual reporter, such as Lina Sinjab, can be filled with personal bias. I am concerned with what appears to be BBC policy, slanting and filtering the news to conform to evident government interventionist policy.

  • Comment number 46.

    45. At 23:11 17th Mar 2012, madmaxtheprof9 wrote:

    A representative of the Syrian Social Club did get on BBC's NEWSHOUR this morning. It was an startling change to hear someone present informed facts about the Syrian situation. Perhaps it was slip-up, however, for the interview was not repeated in the evening edition.

    Yeah, I saw part of that too, it seemed almost as if the interviewer was caught off guard. ;-)
    I can see the journalists are starting to feel very uncomfortable presenting this narrative they no longer believe. And on Al Jazeera, they are really bending over backwards, despite journalists quiting in protest to the biased Syria coverage policy.
    When carbombs go off at the square in Damascus where Assad-support demos were held, and Syrian security buildings, it's very hard arguing they were staged by the government, that is plain crazy.

    The campaign has been really frantic lately, the plan is obviously to overthrow the Assad government before the democratic election on may 7.

  • Comment number 47.

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

  • Comment number 48.

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

  • Comment number 49.

    I think the author hit the nail on the head; highlighting the fact that the interpretation of events is down to the consumer. Independent reporters are essential for relaying unbiased information which the consumer can then form an opinion on based on sound critical thinking.

  • Comment number 50.

    this is a test...

  • Comment number 51.

    '50. Andrew H - this is a test...'

    ..I think, if it is one on this thread, about this topic, whatever it is... we failed...

    ...to provide the requisite support to the broadcast only musings issued forth.

    Which may explain why, with so many questions being asked, there have so far been so few answers when some are clearly called for.

    No wonder blogs, like Newsnight's, are being closed down.

  • Comment number 52.

    I think they don't want to knew the reality, they covered the wrong belief.

  • Comment number 53.

    BBC viewers, and others starved for real facts concerning the Syrian situation, should watch every minute of this.

    http://www.unmultimedia.org/tv/webcast/2012/04/press-conference-bashar-jaafari-syria-on-the-situation-in-syria.html#

    PS Barabara Plett looks great with glasses!

  • Comment number 54.

    Why is the comments on the BBC have your say site closing after just a few hours putting them up like this one:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-17657814

    I never had a chance to comment on that as I have been busy

  • Comment number 55.

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

  • Comment number 56.

    i don't think that there should be any political agendas when it comes to certain things. I JUST THINK THAT POLITICS, RELIGION, AND ETC... SHOULD BE KEPT SEPARATE AT ALL TIMES.

  • Comment number 57.

    I am delighted that there is to be a UN monitoring group to oversee the cessation of violence in Syria. Both Islamists and Jewists will surely agree that this is entirely fair and represents a genuine desire to see a move towards peace in this small part of the Middle East. (Would'nt it be wonderful if a similar iniative was made to bring about peace in Israel/Palestine?)

  • Comment number 58.

    The BBC is losing the plot...re; this blog, they say I had 1,437 characters too many...when I had 3 short paragraphs. BBC could & should take some lessons from Ireland's RTE, because they know how to do it...even though their comment section has only being going for a year now.

 

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