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The news at Christmas

Gary Duffy | 14:30 UK time, Monday, 25 December 2006

As we all know, the news never stops and a small but dedicated team kept the website fully up to date on Christmas Day. With the death of James Brown, the "Godfather of Soul", the Queen's annual message, as well as messages from church leaders around the world, and continuing conflict in Iraq and Somalia, there was plenty to report. In among those breaking news stories was a report that that scientists may have found a way to stop an alcoholic's craving for drink.

The shared experience of Christmas around the world was marked in our picture gallery of the day, which included two 'Santas' enjoying Bondi Beach. I could tell they were from my home country of Ireland as they had only managed to turn slightly pink in the Australian sun.

Jane Little, a BBC correspondent in Washington reflected on the controversy surrounding attitudes to Christmas, while Huw Williams in Basra reflected on 'just another day' for British troops on duty far from their families.

We also posed the question - for those who chose to escape the frenzy of the kitchen or the sometimes unavoidable tensions of a family gathering(!) - 'Is it OK to go online on Christmas Day?'.

The only difference in the normal newsroom routine here was when the journalists stopped for a festive glass of wine and some top of the range BBC sandwiches. I'm sure you didn't notice the interruption and normal service has now resumed.


  • 1.
  • At 12:49 PM on 26 Dec 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

BBC broadcast a report from Bethlehem lamenting the lack of tourists which once thronged the place of Christ's birth and brought a welcome inflow of money to the local inhabitants especially at this time of year. It interviewed residents who claimed that the construction of the wall separating Bethlehem from Israel and the tight security measures taken by the Israelis were the reason for this dropoff and for a change in the demographics from a place once largely populated by Christians to one becoming increasingly populated by Moslems. What BBC neglected to mention even once was that the wall and security measures were put in place after many years and the failure of less drastic measures as the first truely effective methods to protect Israeli citizens from continual attacks by Palestinian suicide bombers entering Israel and murdering it citizens. It's yet one more example of BBC's bias in reporting the news and sewing the seeds of hatred through misunderstanding.

  • 2.
  • At 03:37 PM on 26 Dec 2006,
  • Peter wrote:

Anyone else notice in the news that a few days ago an American naval exercise was cancelled off the Phillipines, now today we learn of a large "earthquake" off the Southern coast of Taiwan.

How convenient was that? And exactly 2 years to the day to the tsunami that killed thousands of people in the same area!

I smell a rat!

Have the Illuminatee or other potential World Leaders, detonated a bomb just south of Taiwan?

If this get's me arrested, please pray for me!

Happy New Year.

  • 3.
  • At 09:45 PM on 26 Dec 2006,
  • Andrew Norris wrote:

Happy Christmas and New Year to all at the BBC. We could not live without you!

  • 4.
  • At 03:35 PM on 29 Dec 2006,
  • David Trimble wrote:

If John Humphrys wants to find out about God he should ask the Aetherius Society. Equally it is high time the editors of the Today programme asked it to do Thought for the Day.

  • 5.
  • At 04:12 PM on 29 Dec 2006,
  • Bernard wrote:

Well done to the folk who manned the BBC Christmas day.

I have just discovered a bit of Christmas news from 2003 that I have never seen reported. Surely all the media must have known about it.

In April 2003 at the height of the military campaign directed against Iraq, the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem decided to ban President Bush and Prime Minister Blair from the birthplace of Jesus Christ.

The reason for this banning was:

"They are war criminals and murderers of children."

The Church of the Nativity is under the authority of the Greek Orthodox church.

Happy New Year to one and all.


  • 6.
  • At 09:34 PM on 29 Dec 2006,
  • Darren wrote:

That's dedication. Well done, thanks, and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year BBC.

  • 7.
  • At 05:59 PM on 01 Jan 2007,
  • Andrea wrote:

I realize that the "war on Christmas" often seems like an artificial battle between competing viewpoints,secular and religious; however, it is being played out in many small ways that have angered ordinary US citizens.

I was invited to speak to my daughter's second grade class at holiday time. Yet, I was prohibited from mentioning that Christmas was the celebration of the birth of Christ. I could talk about baking cookies and decorating the Christmas tree, but I was not to mention religion. (I believe the school was afraid of a lawsuit from non-Christians.)

There are lawsuits now challenging censorship like this. Hopefully, a balance will be achieved.

  • 8.
  • At 12:34 PM on 03 Jan 2007,
  • jonathan wrote:

Is there any kind of quality control on comments on this website? Surely the BBC is being biased by only displaying the comments from readers who complain the BBC is being biased, rather than publishing some that claim it is being even-handed? Which it is.

  • 9.
  • At 05:28 PM on 03 Jan 2007,
  • Leon Vinson wrote:

Having moved to the Staes 18 months ago, I can only say how much I miss the BBC! Thankfully, I can get the American version on sattelite (200 channels and nothing on!). At least I have my British DVDs to fall back on for intelligent programming. Thanks, BBC!

  • 10.
  • At 08:04 PM on 07 Jan 2007,
  • Sara Harpenden wrote:

Stephen Tomkins' piece 'Is it OK to go online on Christmas Day', which you have flagged in this blog, was ill-judged and utterly inane. Take a look at those of your own messageboards which happened to be open over Christmas and you will see how grateful some people were for them. And why should it be frowned on to follow news stories, even over Christmas? After all, if fewer people followed the news, there would be fewer journalists employed by the BBC. When Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu met his end one Christmas in the 80s, there was no internet, and the TV news coverage was deplorably brief. When the Asian tsunami struck on Boxing Day 2004 the internet was an invaluable resource for people desperate for news or contact with those affected by it. And what about going online to send emails to distant family and friends, share photographs with them or make VOIP phone calls to them on Christmas Day? What about checking flight times and status or road conditions for imminent journeys, Christmas refuse collections, Boxing Day sporting fixtures, shop opening times? Online is the obvious place for all of these (none of them mentioned in your article), and it is presumptuous of the BBC to caricature as sociopathic and inadequate anyone who chooses to do any of these things on Christmas Day or at any other time.

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