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Cock-up not conspiracy

Betsan Powys | 23:51 UK time, Tuesday, 15 January 2008

No, not the Welsh Secretary this time but us at BBC Wales.

I've spent an afternoon eating humble pie and handing out big dollops of it for others to swallow. In other words I've been talking about the things we get wrong in an effort to ensure we get it right more often in the future.

Now I accept your list of our cardinal sins might be longer than mine but on my hit-list this afternoon were: writing scripts and stories that refer to the Assembly when we mean the Assembly Government, closely followed by coming up with snappy headlines that sound good ... but are wrong.

How about discussing new measures or Welsh laws when what we really mean are the Legislative Competence Orders that may one day lead to new measures?

I could go on ... and on ... but you get my drift.

After a long and not particularly exciting session in plenary, the Presiding Officer was keen to participate and ready to let off some steam.

Why is it, he asked, that we 'get' the difference between Gordon Brown's government and parliament and would be out of a job as journalists if we didn't but regularly fail to differentiate properly between the Assembly Government and the Assembly?

Why do we talk about the institution when we actually mean the executive?

Why do use pictures of the Senedd when we refer to a government that is based in Cathays Park?

Why do we write "Assembly boss harassed colleague" when the boss in question worked for the Assembly Government?

My job? To make a video about the above, one which my colleagues won't want to throw out of the window without bothering to watch.

"What exciting story are you covering today?" asked the man from Coed Cadw, who'd wandered over from his stall in the Neuadd. I told him. He was sympathetic but confused. "Important to differentiate between what and what?" he asked. "The Assembly Government and the Assembly" I said. "No, you've got me there".

I think, deep down, he was glad we cared but was rather more concerned about how the Assembly Government plans to spend its money and whether Peter Hain's time is up, because of the way he raised and spent his.

Comments   Post your comment

"Why do we write "Assembly boss harassed colleague" when the boss in question worked for the Assembly Government?"

Dafydd El has a point, but remember it was Assembly security guards that 'harrassed' local residents and hotel guests with their cctv cameras last year.

Either way, they both get bad press.

  • 2.
  • At 10:54 AM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • Helen wrote:

I daresay that those who work outside the establishment would be perfectly satisfied with ordinary teminology which conveys to them the concept of Wales's-elected-government-with-limited-powers, and that anything more precise would be like splitting hairs. What's important here is that the public hear about relevant issues in a language which they will understand but isn't excessively dumbed down.

  • 3.
  • At 11:03 AM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • David C. Llewellyn wrote:

Hello Betsan,

I think Lord Elis-Thomas has a point.

According to an artical "BBC audiences 'want modern Wales'" posted on-line Monday, 16 July 2007, the people of Wales "Voiced the frustration felt by many in Wales" that BBC network news "doesn't always report properly" on issues devolved to the Wesh assembly."

This was an issue highlighted by Plaid MP Adam Price in August 2007, when he threatened to with-hold license feels for lack of a Welsh focus on BBC News... though he does appreciate BBC Wales.

But Keep Up the Great Job covering the Assembly and the Assembly Government!

  • 4.
  • At 11:14 AM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • Richard Harris wrote:

"Incompetence" (sic) ~ NO, not you Betsan, but Petra Hain (the dog ate my expenses). I'd vote for you as Welsh Secretary anytime ! And you're already on the radio...although currently a bit less that Don "No Surrender" Touhig!

Noticed last night that Petra's colour is the same as Paul Burrell (Di's best mate) He seems to suffer from memory loss too....

  • 5.
  • At 02:39 PM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • Christian Schmidt wrote:

Well, it got me confused when I moved to Wales - and still does when other people say 'Assembly' and from the context it is obvious that they mean the Assembly Government.

Of course, the Welsh Assembly Government could simply end the confusion by dropping the word 'Assembly' in its title, and refer to itself as the 'Welsh Government'.

  • 6.
  • At 06:25 PM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • Gerry wrote:

Assembly,Assembly Government - aren`t they one & the same?What is the difference?If they are different then there should be a name change to avoid confusion.Not every one is as bright as the Lord!

  • 7.
  • At 11:46 PM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • dotcommentator wrote:

Part of the problem is that this change only came into effect in May 2007 and hasn't been well-publicised at all. As journalists you should know better, of course.

Wouldn't logic dictate that an LCO (legislative competence - the clue is in the title) has something to do with the Assembly's (not Assembly Government's) legislating ability?

  • 8.
  • At 09:15 AM on 17 Jan 2008,
  • Nigel wrote:

It's easy - just start referring to the Cynulliad (or even the Sennedd) when you talk about the elected body, and the Llywodraeth when you mean the ones who run things. The Irish have no problems referring to the Dail, the Taoiseach, the Tanaiste etc when they speak English. In a Welsh context there should be no need of the word 'Welsh' either, so no need for Welsh Assembly Government (horrid phrase!). Rhodri simply becomes the Prif Weinidog, and if you have to refer to the bunch in London then you qualify them as the U.K. Parliament (or San Steffan) and the U.K. Government and the U.K. Prime Minister.

Easy - and very clear and precise.

  • 9.
  • At 11:21 AM on 17 Jan 2008,
  • Penyberth wrote:

I wouldn't beat myself up over comments made by that pompous patronising little man.

  • 10.
  • At 03:04 PM on 17 Jan 2008,
  • Rob P wrote:

A very important point. However, the difference would be more plain if the word "Assembly" didn't appear in both titles. "Welsh Assembly" is commonly used rather than "National Assembly for Wales" and it really is too similar to "Welsh Assembly Government".

Even the UK government gets it confused. The Home Office "Life in the UK" book for immigrants says that the National Assembly for Wales is otherwise known as the Welsh Assembly Government!

Perhaps "Welsh Executive" or "Welsh Government" might be more suitable and (less confusing) titles.

  • 11.
  • At 10:14 PM on 17 Jan 2008,
  • Bedd Gelert wrote:

Good Grief !! You mean there is a difference ?? Please don't tell me that there are TWO sets of buildings / offices peopled by staff who are adept at pi$$ing our money down the drain.

The wags at WAG might want to keep that quiet - on the other hand publicise it, as it will help to ensure that they are not given law making powers and thus seek to justify their bloated over-paid bureaucrazy even more...

  • 12.
  • At 10:18 AM on 18 Jan 2008,
  • Carl Harris wrote:

I was confused about the two to at first, but when it was explained to me it really is easy to understand.

If you look at the National Assembly for Wales as the Westminster Parliament and look as the Welsh Assembly Government as "the cabinet". Ultimately its the Government who are in charge of Wales then.

I'm sorry to tell you Bedd Gelert that there are two seperate buildings. The Assembly is obviously down the bay, but the Government(cabinet) although having offices in the Assembly buildings, are based in Cathays Park. I was there last week and the first thing you see when you walk in is a notice board with the pictures of the Welsh Government... It's still strange seeing Plaid and Labour members together!!

  • 13.
  • At 10:44 AM on 18 Jan 2008,
  • Carl Harris wrote:

I was confused about the two to at first, but when it was explained to me it really is easy to understand.

If you look at the National Assembly for Wales as the Westminster Parliament and look as the Welsh Assembly Government as "the cabinet". Ultimately its the Government who are in charge of Wales then.

I'm sorry to tell you Bedd Gelert that there are two seperate buildings. The Assembly is obviously down the bay, but the Government(cabinet) although having offices in the Assembly buildings, are based in Cathays Park. I was there last week and the first thing you see when you walk in is a notice board with the pictures of the Welsh Government... It's still strange seeing Plaid and Labour members together!!

  • 14.
  • At 01:21 PM on 20 Jan 2008,
  • Peter Bray wrote:

Two buildings? No, there are three! In addition to the main centre in Cathays Park and the 'senate' building ( which placement leaves it overshadowed and insignificant against all the surrounding buildings) there is the large office block somewhere to the rear that has been in use ever since WAG was established.
I do so agree that we are misled by incorrect comments on TV. In fact I had been lead to believe that WAG existed only in the 'senate' and that nearby office block. When you see the full extent of all the space used up by WAG it bears comparison with Westminster! As WAG exists for about only 3 million people it is little wonder that we get such poor value; their take of the budget per head of population must be huge compared to Westminster even after allowing for differences in location costs.

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