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Putting things in order

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Robbie Gibb | 19:40 UK time, Friday, 13 July 2007

It has of course been a very difficult and embarrassing week for all of us at the BBC. It didn’t start well with Ofcom fining the corporation £50,000 over an edition of Blue Peter. If that wasn’t bad enough it was followed with a misleading edit of Her Majesty the Queen in a presentation to journalists.

Newsnight logoMaintaining standards of honesty, accuracy and fairness throw up various dilemmas which programme editors have to grapple with on a daily basis. For example we sometimes get politicians making complaints about an interview or a particular film. We had a recent correspondence from the Treasury about an item made by the independent film maker Jamie Campbell which threw up precisely these kind of issues, although in this instance the film didn’t breach any of the BBC’s producer guidelines.

On the day before Gordon Brown took over as prime minister we broadcast Jamie’s film about his attempts to get an interview with the then chancellor. They were unhappy with the film in general but directed their complaint at how the film portrayed a Treasury press officer claiming the chronology of two events were out of sequence and as such misrepresented the events. However unlike the incident with the footage of the Queen, whichever order the events had been shown the meaning would remain the same. Check out the film for yourself here.

The sequences to look out for are the incident where the then chancellor's car arrives when the press officer and Jamie are talking and the incident at the CBI. Chronologically the CBI event happened first. Watch for yourself and let me know if you think the meaning is remotely affected by the order.


  • 1.
  • At 09:09 PM on 13 Jul 2007,
  • gillian wrote:

Could you suggest to the presenter of the bbc2 proms tv programme that he should show respect for the occasion by waering a tie. He may also treat his audience as adults, referring to cellists and pianists instead of cello player, piano player etc. He really isn't up to scratch for this type of broadcast. KEEP THE STANDARDS UP BBC.

  • 2.
  • At 09:13 PM on 13 Jul 2007,
  • Ali wrote:

I see no problems here, certainly no reason to be "unhappy with the film in general". Pathetic. This is the sort of journalism that should be encouraged.

  • 3.
  • At 09:20 PM on 13 Jul 2007,
  • Leandra wrote:

The most worrying thing about the "Queen" story and its chronological misinformation is not that the filmmakers set out deliberately to deceive (although that would be bad enough) but the possibility that they never knew in the first place that this was an unconscionable thing to do! i.e. the impression is given that their view of the world is, "Make a good story - never mind how", rather than "This is what actually happened". Are these filmmakers progeny of the great "culture and media education" explosion that has taken place in the UK in the past ten years (because the economy can't offer any 'serious' careers any more)so that they have grown up imbued with the conditioning that everything is OK and, like a pack of cards, they must shuttle the facts around so as to produce the winning hand? Heaven help us all if we can no longer rely on the BBC to play a straight bat.

  • 4.
  • At 09:33 PM on 13 Jul 2007,
  • Paul Evans wrote:

I have watched Jamie Campbell's piece re Gordon Brown and would say the amended time line has no bearing on the story. In fact I would say certain members of staff have used the police as their own bully boys in an unauthorised manner.

The film is witty, amusing and perfectly fine.

  • 6.
  • At 09:40 PM on 13 Jul 2007,
  • EMO wrote:

Why change the sequence if you claim the meaning is not affected by the order? If you consider good storytelling more important that an accurate representation of events, then Newsnight's editorial management must accept its share of the blame for contributing to the moral climate that gave rise to the false prospectus for war that so recently placed sons and daughters in harm's way.

  • 7.
  • At 09:44 PM on 13 Jul 2007,
  • Andy wrote:

Not to mention the BBC giving Alistair Campbell an unprecedented amount of exposure this week.

He even got his own BBC 2 mini-series to read extracts from his book without any interviews or contextualisation to challenge his version of events. Can the BBC really deny it was paying him off?

If so, just point me to a similar amount of exposure for some other high profile figure. No? I thought not.

I don't think the BBC has really grasped that the public perceive Hutton to be a whitewash, and this posture is slowly killing off its trust. Once it's gone, it will be impossible to regain.


  • 8.
  • At 09:46 PM on 13 Jul 2007,
  • henryhamster wrote:

If the order really is unimportant to the meaning, reversing the order of events was, bluntly, a daft thing to do. Why hand your opponents free ammunition?

  • 9.
  • At 09:49 PM on 13 Jul 2007,
  • DaveH wrote:

That GB piece is not something to be excused with "oh, it doesn't matter". While the same meaning means there is no effect, as opposed to HMQ's piece, the cause of both was sloppiness, something which is quickly becoming part of the BBC culture.

Point out the rotten English used by many of your reporters and the reply comes back that it is a "personality quirk" (what?) and that the BBC is not the guardian of the English language. No, in the latter case, you are not, but your reporters should use proepr Englsih.

Why/ Because once standards slip and any old thing will do, that is when this week's foul-ups start.

Then there is "fairness" - it has come to mean a meaningless debate between two middle ground people or some kind of "1up 1 down" on the eprson concerned. Why not allow extreme/unfashionable views - even if it does upset the PC crowd. please also forget this "reperesentative" rubbish - George Alagiah is a very competent newsreader, so who cares if he is male and black and has to be balanced by a white woman. Although men and women are about 50/50 in the population, non-whites only make up
about 7% of the popualtion. yet, you seem to feel that x group must be in every programme. Just tell us the news!

  • 10.
  • At 09:54 PM on 13 Jul 2007,
  • Andy Waters - Newcastle wrote:

The business about HM The Queen, coming as it does on top of the Blue Peter cock up, certainly doesn't reflect well on the BBC. There are clearly lessons to be learned, which I hope they will be if the corporation's reputation for integrity is to be maintained.

However, on the Jamie Campbell / Gordon Brown thing, I watched the interview at the time and recall it very well. You are right; I can't see how the order of events would make the slightest difference to the viewers' perception. Gordon Brown's press officer was simply rude and full of his own importance, and no amount of resequencing would have made a blind bit of difference to that!

I can sympathise with Jamie Campbell and I agree that some of the treatment he received was over-zealous and unreasonable. Gordon Brown's chief press officer seemed silly.

But overall I think the problem is that ministerial visits require a great deal of planning and security, and that can't be disrupted by someone wanting to ask a question. Especially when, by his own admission, Campbell only wanted to ask a question to find out if he would be allowed to do so. Honestly I felt that Campbell came across as a sort of Mark Thomas wannabe without any real point to make.

The only 'shock' value in this film, I felt, was that Brown's security team wasted the police's time and resources. In doing so they actually reduced security around Brown for trivial reasons.

Campbell should apply in writing for an interview with Brown. If, like hundreds of other journalists, he isn't granted the interview then he should accept that as a fact of life.

  • 12.
  • At 10:07 PM on 13 Jul 2007,
  • Chris Morris wrote:

It’s a matter of opinion as to whether the chronology of the particular events is significant, or not. As far as I know, life is chronological and showing events out of sequence (without identifying such) has a significant potential to mislead. The question for the BBC is why it should choose to show events out of sequence and, in doing so, was there an intention to mislead?

In the meantime I note the standards being adopted and, because I don’t wish to be misled, I will rely on a different broadcaster in future.

  • 13.
  • At 10:25 PM on 13 Jul 2007,
  • philip wrote:

I only watched half of this film, but it convinced me that this is gutter journalism, and i am sure everyone who has seen the film has every sympathy with those in brown´s entourage who prevented this tiresome gimmick journalist, who is concerned only with getting his own picture on the box a much as possible. Open government does not mean pandering to the dregs of the press, it means resisting the attention-seeking and trivialising press who think that being "open" is talking to every pain in the neck (i would prefer a different word there) with a press badge when he feels like it.

Well so much for the idea that the Prime Minister is only meant to be the first among equals! No, the order makes no political difference, but does make the film flow better the way it is currently edited.

Funny how the press team got in touch as soon as they wanted to complain...

  • 15.
  • At 10:38 PM on 13 Jul 2007,
  • James MacKenzie wrote:

Yes, the meaning is affected.
The order of events is untrue and the voice-over has to tell lies to avoid this being obvious.
This in turn calls into question why this distortion was felt to be necessary and what other distortions and lies occurred.
The BBC suddenly has a real a growing threat to its integrity and I suspect yet more sharp practice will shortly be revealed.
If those the BBC reports on conducted themselves in this way you would suggest heads should roll. Roll on.

  • 16.
  • At 10:45 PM on 13 Jul 2007,
  • Dr.A.Fernandes-Vidal wrote:

Why is the Beeb so apologetic about what the Queen did or did not?
Why should anybody give a half penny for such an idiotic occurrence?
The director general of the BBC - and his acquiescent director of programmes - will be, sooner or later, something of the British Empire (which, as a matter of fact, doesn't even exist anymore), or Sir's or even Lords. That’s the normality.
However, concerning the, so called, “edited” bit shown on TV it is perfectly clear that the Queen is "leaving" the session with the photographer and NOT on her way there.
The Beeb used to be trustworthy, but not anymore.
A. Fernandes-Vidal

  • 17.
  • At 11:13 PM on 13 Jul 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

Lovely interview with Campbell tonight - or is that a book promo (aided and abetted by Kirsty the known strong Labour supporter).

Come on!

There may very well be a justification for an interview - but having a chummy interview conducted by Kirsty is a bit weak...

  • 18.
  • At 11:37 PM on 13 Jul 2007,
  • BRIAN WEBB wrote:

So some American photographer asked HMQ to remove her crown. So what! A lot of fuss about a non story. Whipped up by rival news organisations on a slow news day. Unless of course some bad needed to be buried!
(Battling old wrinkly)

  • 19.
  • At 11:48 PM on 13 Jul 2007,
  • Glenn Hall wrote:

Is it strictly necessary for Newsnight Review to be hijacked for a 'special' on the Alastair Campbell diaries? I contend this is an unreasonable use of the already very limited arts debate slot,and should surely have been a mainstream item scheduled within the main program itself.
Having already downgraded the arts review to an add-on, and with the sometimes excellent Kirsty Wark omnipresent (surely the Review can always have it's own presenter) tonights piece was a step too far for news overpowering the arts.
Hopefully this post might begin a debate that might support and strengthen the Review.

  • 20.
  • At 12:15 AM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • Mike S wrote:

I enjoyed watching this film when it first aired on Newsnight and I remember being appalled by the police being used to obstruct Jamie at the CBI.

It seemed obvious to me that the press officer had remembered him from the car incident. Involving the police in this way (when she already knew who Jamie was) seemed an unethical escalation of tactics on her part.

However, viewed in the correct chronological order my impression is different. The CBI incident was Jamie's first meeting with the treasury press officer. Suddenly it seems much more reasonable to have asked the police to check him out.

If the film had shown these events in the chronologically correct order my view of the press officer's behaviour (and by association Gordon Brown) is significantly less negative.

To conclude, the order did make a difference to me.

What about the time that awful foreign Guardian employee, a lady who sat on the panel of Dateline London, a BBC World presentation, she had the nerve to called the Queen, 'that grey haired old lady', and the leader of the panel, that grinning libbie leftie allowed it without reprimand, nothing was done about that at the time, the BBC World gets away with these sort of offensive remarks all the time, thinks it is fashion and what the general public wants to hear in an simplistic effort to make our society more left wing and anti royal - it does not work.

Whether the wrong chronology distorted the picture or not in this case is not important or relevant. The important point is that the chronology was distorted and as such the story was inaccurate and misrepresented.

The sooner you stop justifying your mistakes, which is putting it charitably, the better. A trusted organisation like the BBC cannot make too many mistakes without losing the peoples' trust.

The valid question to be asked is, are these mistakes or deliberate attempts to sex up the story under the guise of mistakes, if found out.

  • 23.
  • At 02:35 AM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • Tony Burleton wrote:

I wonder if the first story was the correct one, maybe Brenda's spin doctors got at the BBC and suggested the change.

The blog shows the BBC's problem. It's basically saying we don't think accuracy matters as long as the meaning's OK. But if you're doing a factual programme you have to get all your facts right - or you end up changing the facts to get a better programme.

  • 25.
  • At 07:05 AM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

The correct way round explains the caution of the press officer in the first clip - in reality the second event.

The whole voiceover suggests it was hard to get hold of Gordon Brown...and uses that clip as an example - when in fact there was history.

It may not be a fabrication - but it is portraying real events in a way that is distorted to suit a theory. And this sort of thing, over time, does distort public opinion

  • 26.
  • At 07:12 AM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • Mike Hayes wrote:

If "the meaning would remain the same" why was the chronological order changed? The editor/producer obviously wanted to emphasise an artistic/political point and distorting events was his crude way of doing so. It certainly made me trust the integrity of the reporter a little less.

  • 27.
  • At 07:43 AM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • Terry Gregory wrote:

I do think it makes a difference. Jamie's so called second incident, where the press officer appears and enters into small talk just at Brown's car is passing, is made to look like a clearly deliberate act by the press officer who had seen him and had him checked out at the earlier incident at the CBI. When shown the other way it is a lot less sinister.
And obviously Jamie and the editors of the piece thought so too - why else swop the pieces round? Jamie's commentary is complicit in the manipulation.
And finally, I think your intro to this article sounds a bit biased as well. "However unlike the incident with the footage of the Queen, whichever order the events had been shown the meaning would remain the same.". Surely the question is whether the sequencing affects the meaning -aren't you prejudging this. And your use of the word 'remotely' in your last sentence sounds a bit like it's inviting "surely not" to me. Mind you,as Deputy Editor of Newsnight you might just have a vested interest.

Post 1 from Mike S clearly, factually and with great eloquence, pretty much answers your end question, I'd say.

That a viewer who was a live part of this 'process' feels this way I'd hazard shows the meaning was a bit more than 'remotely' affected by the dis-order.

Nice try.

'Maintaining standards of honesty, accuracy and fairness throw up various dilemmas which programme editors have to grapple with on a daily basis.'

But in maintaining those standards, grappling with the ethics of using the edit suite to alter a meaning really shouldn't be the greatest dilemma, now, should it?

Nice try.

'...claiming the chronology of two events were out of sequence and as such misrepresented the events.'

Is it really accurate to call it a claim if, in fact, this is/was precisely the case?

Nice try.

'However unlike the incident with the footage of the Queen, whichever order the events had been shown the meaning would remain the same.'

Um, or not. See above.

Nice try.

Glad for all concerned that at least it 'didn’t breach any of the BBC’s producer guidelines.' Wouldn't want to breach a guideline in doing an ethical, professional, honest job, now would we?

Not sure, having read this, whether some viewers' trust factors in the BBC or its news operatives' standards will have improved, though.

And this is such a shame. And makes the point. Having now watched the story, without that Achilles Heel (which was so subtle I honestly had trouble appreciating it), it was a telling piece for all the other 'imagery', if not facts conveyed.

I really don't know what to believe, so maybe it's best to believe none of it. Which is a pity, as black-suited press munchkins and jobsworth plods creating a wall of silence around our shy leader (as opposed to an opposition version who has amazing spontaneous total recall of relative camera sizes) does come across as a worry. None of it seemed real. And surely, as press with greater access (as alluded to, a form of editing in its own right) than the public will ever enjoy, it is for you to cut through all this spin and give us the clear, unvarnished truth.

In the 'war games' that rather bizarrely seem to exist - if only for the entertainment of those who play them - between accredited press and our elected representatives, in theory conducted on 'our' behalf to inform and allow us to form views we can carry to the polling booth, this is more than a worry.

  • 29.
  • At 08:02 AM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • Colin wrote:

If the BBC is to esacpe from its 'Bliarism' it has to do a very simple thing. Present events that happen in the way and in hte order order that they happen.
News is not 'drama'. All 'editing' of news for dramatic effects should be prohibited, with dismissal as the ultimate deterrent.

  • 30.
  • At 08:30 AM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

The meaning is changed, yes. The accompanying words of the commentary are: "coincidentally, the same press officer...". So it is not just the two sequences being *accidentally* shown out of order, but a deliberate distortion of the train of events in order to throw as negative light on the security.

And I find myself rather pleased that the PM has better things to do than proving to spurious reporters how "accessible" he is.

  • 31.
  • At 08:44 AM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • Jonathan Chadwick wrote:

I believe that the editing of the film was designed to mislead the viewer, and I am surprised that this film didn’t breach any of the BBC’s producer guidelines.

The two events are screened early on in the film and set a conspiratorial tone for the entire film.

In the screened order, we are led to believe that Jamie is first prevented from seeing the chancellor in a relatively friendly way. The suggestion is then that, when this tactic does not put him off, the press officers' actions get tougher and Jamie is manhandled by the Police so that he cannot speak to the Chancellor.

It is interesting to note that, in the film, Jamie never actually states that the two events follow each other in the way they are screened. Neither does he state that the press officer recognised him from the earlier event. However, it is heavily implied and I had to replay the tape to confirm that he didn't.

Firstly, Jamie uses the present tense throughout this section of the film, which led me to believe that he was leading us through a chronological sequence of events. He never says he is, yet it's a natural assumption to make. Taking each clip in isolation, everything is factually correct. Edited in this order, the facts remain but the natural interpretation is very different.

Secondly, the statement he makes about the press officer uses well chosen words. To quote, "... the same Treasury official catches sight of me and makes a phone call. By strange coincidence, within seconds I'm being hauled aside by the police." Again this is a factually correct statement. Ignoring the heavily implied (but again unstated) suggestion that the Press Officer called the police, the subtler implication is that the press officer has recognised Jamie. Although Jamie says "... the same Treasury official catches sight of me ..." I interpreted this as "... the Treasury official who saw me at the previous event recognised me ...".

The point of the entire film appears to be that Gordon Brown is avoiding the press and will use some heavy tactics to do so. The edited sequence of these two clips makes this point. The chronological sequence does not.

If I was into conspiracy theories, I could now believe that the (chronologically) second event was set up by Jamie to be able to make his point and edit it in before the (chronologically) first event …

  • 32.
  • At 08:48 AM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • Ruth Fellows wrote:

I agree with Mike that the order did make a difference but I'm not sure that it would have looked any better for Gordon's press office had it been shown in chronological order.
Having already been stopped and searched by police only increases my incredulity at the subsequent response by the same press officer and by the office throughout the period that Jamie was following Gordon.

The overall message of the piece was not altered by this lack of strict chronology.

The behaviour of GB and his team was not acceptable at all. It reminds me of when the elderly chap was thrown out of a party conference for minor heckling and an awful press officer type tried to obstruct the camera crew by saying to them "this is nothing to do with you".

It IS to do with us, and things must change.

  • 34.
  • At 09:34 AM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • insertname wrote:

"They were unhappy with the film in general but directed their complaint at how the film portrayed a Treasury press officer claiming the chronology of two events were out of sequence and as such misrepresented the events. However unlike the incident with the footage of the Queen, whichever order the events had been shown the meaning would remain the same"

So why bother showing the events out of sequence?

  • 35.
  • At 09:35 AM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • Julian Corner wrote:


  • 36.
  • At 10:09 AM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • Jeanette wrote:

James Campbell and his film were a huge mistake for Newsnight as the blog that day reflected. Light Entertainment producers like James should hang around ITV Comedy where they can use creative editing to an advantage.Watching the film closely you could it was out of Synch.

The worst momemt was when David Gest just suddenly turned up ! Given James has only weeks prior made a film about Gest - they clearly knew each other,and Gest knew very little about Gordon Brown.
This was tacky for Newsnight and not fair to the calibre of Newsnight presenters.

  • 37.
  • At 10:09 AM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • Derek Ballard wrote:

I agree, the order of the actual events when compared with the "construction" of the events in the programme does paint a different picture.

The running order has the look of a reporters opinion shaping history to fit in with the storyline to provide emphasis rather than an interpretation of a factual sequence. However subtle or otherwise the intervention may be it remains a distortion which is not what good and honest reporting is about. It's an issue of integrity.

  • 38.
  • At 10:34 AM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • sarah nunn wrote:

Amazing. The order CLEARLY makes a difference. The use of the police to check out someone you know has been a political problem (but no security risk) before is totally unacceptable.

But when shown in the right order, the use of the police first is understandable.

  • 39.
  • At 10:44 AM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • Brian Smith wrote:

I agree it makes the whole piece misleading. Why is it that the BBC can never admit mistakes and always has to find excuses?

  • 40.
  • At 11:24 AM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • Bryan wrote:

Mr. Gibb,

There is always a little flurry of activity at the BBC when you are caught red-handed. Damage control is undertaken and apologies are (sometimes) made. But, as far as I can tell, nobody ever resigns or is fired as a result. I doubt whether anyone is even disciplined. Mark Thompson's immediate reaction was to throw his weight behind his staff. How convenient to have a boss like that. And how easy it is to remain unaccountable for one's actions under such conditions.

Then there is the matter of political correctness. Are there any BBC TV or radio dramas that depart from the narrowest of narrow left wing agendas? Of course not.

Going back a few years, the “documentary” entitled Israel’s Secret Weapon, which purported to “expose” the “threat” that the country posed to other countries in the Middle East, was such a one-sided attack on Israel that it resulted in the Israeli government withdrawing cooperation with the BBC. Did the BBC apologise? Was anyone disciplined? Of course not. The editor responsible stood by his decision to broadcast what was basically an anti-Semitic propaganda piece, thinly disguised as an attempt to expose the existence of Israel’s nuclear weapons. The BBC would never broadcast such partisan trash about the very real, if nascent nuclear threat from an Iran close to developing the Bomb.

And then we have the BBC obediently reproducing Hezbollah’s propaganda during last year’s war and legitimising and sanitising the terror group Hamas (years prior to the Johnston affair) and the treasonous attempt by a BBC employee to elicit information on troop movements in Iraq followed by your extraordinary attempt to excuse it on the basis of poor literary skills:

So while the issues of the BBC misleading the public re Blue Peter and the Queen are serious enough in themselves, they are lightweight compared to the BBC’s ingrained bias on the major international conflicts of our time.

The British public funds your social engineering and terror-friendly agenda on pain of imprisonment. How many people are comfortable with what they are being force-fed by the BBC? Do you imagine that you have majority support? Even if that were the case, you are a public broadcaster and you have no right to ignore the large numbers of people who are becoming increasing resentful at the BBC’s attempts to deceive and manipulate the public into supporting an agenda that can only lead to ruin.

  • 41.
  • At 11:31 AM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

Whereas the events should have been shown in their chronological order; for me this did not affect the meaning of the piece as a whole. Also I am completely unsurprised by the abuse of so-called "anti terror" legislation to harass Jamie Campbell and prevent him talking to Gordon Brown.

I remember a film clip a few years ago showing Brown getting out of his car and walking into a building. An member of the public wanted to ask him about, I think, IR35. Brown completely ignored her and his minders pushed her out of the way. That incident typified for me the arrogance of Gordon Brown. There will never be an opportunity for anyone to do a "Sharon Storer" on him since ordinary citizens are not allowed anywhere near him.

  • 42.
  • At 11:38 AM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • Itumpi wrote:

Mike S is spot on. CBI first followed by the other incident is natural and relaxed - someone carrying out their duty of care - but changing the order makes the footage incredibly sinister - I remember being really shocked by it when it was aired. Very naughty editing by Jamie Campbell - or perhaps a Con trick? Robbie Gibb is an 'in charge' type editor and not a film editor for sure - no film editor would think that was an innocent swap.

  • 43.
  • At 11:40 AM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • Phil Filer wrote:

This footage shows the worst kind of journalism; it is trivial, superficial and self-obsessed. A badly-dressed, unprofessional, scruffy looking man, over-familiar ("Gordon!"), demanding attention and responses to himself as a figure of significance - and expecting to be taken seriously! Switching the sequence of events did materially change the impact of events. Pretending not to understand legitimate security concerns, pretending that rudeness and exhibitionism are worth a serious response from politicians, pretending that cynicism and posturing are the real business of journalists is dishonest and corrosive of public trust and journalistic integrity.

  • 44.
  • At 11:43 AM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • J Westermanj wrote:

Lack of logic is the worry. The film producers would know whether it was correct: if they had checked it. Did they check it or is it their practice to send out work unchecked?
The film cried out for investigation before publication. Did anyone in the BBC consider that investigation was required: if so what did they do and with what result? Did the BBC ask the producers to confirm that the film was accurate? What was the reply?
What guarantee does the BBC require about material?
If the producers had checked the film before passing it on to the BBC the presumption is that it was correct . If they had not checked are they still considered to be a suitable source for material?
Nothing short of a full explanation is likely to restore trust. That we have not had.

  • 45.
  • At 12:09 PM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • James wrote:

I'm afraid it does make a difference - the way it is shown in the video makes it seem significantly more sinister that Jamie is searched by the police as opposed to the chronological order.

Still a good video, but I'm afraid I concur with Mike S.

  • 46.
  • At 12:16 PM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • SurbitonSteve wrote:

Sequence always matters. It is irrelevent whether your perception of reality is changed or not; it is how the viewer the listenner perceives the event.

It is the rule of time-travel that one should not interfer with history as it has suprising consequences; a good rule for all journalists: do not go backwards and manipulate history for your story, it just is not honest.

  • 47.
  • At 12:43 PM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • Paul Jones wrote:

I think it's a pathetic argument from the Press Treasury official - it didn't make a scrap of difference to the overall message which contrasted the vastly different media-friendly style of David Cameron with the more aloof style of Gordon Brown. However, I think the most valid contribution to this debate were the views of Charlie Whelan who astutely commented that the wannabe Prime Minister Cameron is anxiously trying his hardest to engage the Press as this is one of his stronger points. Maybe, if David Cameron were about to be 'crowned' Prime Minister the following day he might not have been so readily available to freelance filmmakers.

  • 48.
  • At 01:08 PM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • David Bennington wrote:

I agree with Mike. The order is all important. I think the BBC here, as with the clips of the Queen, is trying to create something newsworthy out of nothing. The same applied to the Gilligan report about the Iraq WMD dossier.
Unfortunately, the BBC is now no more reliable than any other news outlet and in some cases a lot less trustworthy.

  • 49.
  • At 01:20 PM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • ziwzih wrote:

I believe that everyone in the uk has had enough of this type of 'spin'. What was stopping the BBC from showing the sequence of events in the order they's not like the film was edited for dramatic effect...???

This will be my last comment sent from a uk location as I and my famly will be leaving the UK in 3 days...we have had enough of the lies, rip-offs, greed and corruption that now masquerade as the 'british way of life'.

Good Luck are REALLY going to need something to rescue you from the police state that the uk has become.

  • 50.
  • At 01:42 PM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • Andy wrote:

The point is - who decides if the meaning remains the same or not?

Without being told the sequence is out of order, the viewer has to assume that events happened in the order portrayed. Even if the meaning hasn't changed, the viewer is being misled. The viewer can't decide that the change in order doesn't effect the story because the viewer doesn't know the change has taken place. It might only be a small dishonesty, but it is a dishonesty. The viewer is being conned.

To make things worse - in this case the meaning has substantially changed. As pointed out above, the film appears to show the press officer using the police to check out a man already known to her, when in reality the man was unknown to her at that time.

If this didn't breach any producers' guidelines, than maybe the guidelines need to be changed.

  • 51.
  • At 02:04 PM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • Alex Swanson wrote:

Surely you are aware of the standard BBC response to any such complaint. You simply say something like "The BBC's commitment to impartiality is based on output as a whole. Where one report may have seemed to emphasise one side of a question, it will have been balanced by another at a different time."

You are of course not obliged to produce any example of such another report, or indeed any supporting evidence whatever of any such report's existence. However, if pressed, one thirty-second segment broadcast at 2.15am on a Sunday in 1993 can easily be pressed into service as balance for any number of hours of footage since then.

As for a particular report being actually actively misleading, don't make me laugh.

  • 52.
  • At 02:10 PM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • Asame Obiomah wrote:

Referring to the Jamie Campbell-Gordon Brown in isolation is quite clearly taking a wider phenomenon out of context. The problem is more with a perception deliberate embellishment or slanting.
The BBC is a beacon for not only Britain, but great swathes of the World. Perhaps the ruckus about the Queen was an innocent error, but the recent rash of similar errors (including Blue Peter) and the visible tilt of the BBC toward the sensational raises uncomfortable questions as to if its legendary high principles have been eroded or worse, have passed away. There is also the question of inaccurate news and place names (especially concerning Africa) with the risk of cocooned information provided to soothe the few and the consequent distancing of the many.
The BBC would do well to distance itself from the dangerous and alarming things are happening with broadcasters who seem to be creating the news rather than relaying it. This is especially heightened by the plethora of alternative news and information sources in the new wired age.

  • 53.
  • At 02:17 PM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • John Kalaitzis wrote:

Clearly there needs to be tight security for the then PM elect and now PM however it does seem particulalrly strange that his press/security machine needs to be so obstructive. The chronology of events in the film made no difference to the final outcome.

  • 54.
  • At 02:20 PM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • Mike Shepherd wrote:

I haven't seen this film, but it's interesting to see a defence of re-arranging it. If not to deceive, then why?

Today it's "this re-arrangement doesn't change our accurate illustration of the issues". Tomorrow it could be "omitting this evidence wouldn't change the jury's verdict".

The point is that it's for the viewer or the jury to decide. Neither can do that reliably if the evidence has been "sexed up".

  • 55.
  • At 02:26 PM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • Keith Jordan wrote:

I don't think the sequence of the video used changes the overall conclusion that Gordon is inaccessible! It is perhaps a little amateur not to put it in chronological order as it is an inaccurate representation. But, as it didn't change the impression of Gordon, I don't think it was unethical!

Great story anyway! Keep up the good work!

  • 56.
  • At 02:32 PM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • Stephen W wrote:

Having viewed the clip it seems fairly clear to me that the sequence of these events does indeed colour the viewer’s perception of the reaction of Gordon Brown's team. Frankly, there must have been a reason why these clips were edited out of their proper sequence and I personally don’t really buy "honest mistake, guv" as an excuse, not when stage management to make a relatively weak film look more noteworthy seems a profitable outcome for the filmakers... Remember your own relatively recent moral outrage at anything "sexed up" BBC?

  • 57.
  • At 02:38 PM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • jb wrote:

I missed this film when it was shown on Newsnight but having watched it now, I agree completely with Mike S. Mind you, even with the events shown in this order I find it difficult to sympathise with Jamie - how would he like someone following him around (without invitation)whilst trying to do his job! The film did seem to come across as a little bit of 'sour grapes' on Jamie's part. And as for David Cameron being so friendly... isn't the leader of the opposition (whoever it may be at the time) usually pretty amiable - that's the way they win votes!

  • 58.
  • At 02:46 PM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • Catherine Ambrose wrote:

I thought this program was particularly insightful. Its relevance, for me, lay in how incompetently Brown's camp dealt with the film-maker and with press in general rather than in anything more sinister Campbell may have wished to infer. The scenes that are claimed to be out of sequence did alter the meaning - but not necessarily to the detriment of the Labour Party. Had they been placed in the correct order, i.e. the aide placing the phone-call before she had had a run in with Campbell (which, according to the Labour Party is what happened) surely it indicates an extraordinary level of paranoia on behalf of Brown's team. I suppose with, as Campbell pointed out, 'nothing to prove' Brown needn't worry himself with such piffle as 'freedom for Press'.

  • 59.
  • At 03:24 PM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • Hay wrote:

The order made no difference. Brown did not emerge well from the film and this is just pettyness on his, and his heavies, part.

  • 60.
  • At 03:40 PM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • Mark M wrote:

The order made a difference to me. In the order that it is shown, it appears Jamie Campbell had previously met the press officer and that she recognised him outside the CBI. This is also implied in the audio. In reality, however, she did not talk to him until later.

Of course a senior cabinet minister and soon-to-be PM is going to be less accessible than a prospective leader of the opposition. It seems somewhat ironic, having just watched Alistair Campbell's diaries (someone with who I had very little sympathy), that Jamie Campbell and the BBC should feel the need to "sex up" this non story.

  • 61.
  • At 04:36 PM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • Thomas wrote:

I'm entirely impartial regarding this particular programme's political message. However, I distinctly remember thinking at the time the short film was shown on Newsnight, that if Jamie Cambell could have been bothered to put on a clean shirt and tie, comb his hair, and have a shave, he might have got significantly further with obtaining some of those interviews.

But that would have negated the programme's thrust somewhat, wouldn't it...

  • 62.
  • At 04:40 PM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • William Bayes wrote:

Whilst the order of the incidents in this film could change ones perception of the female press officer, I do not believe it alters the general tenor of the film. From the incidents filmed it becomes quite plain that certain tactics were employed to ensure that Jamie did not get near enough to pose any questions to Gordon Brown. What alarms me about this film is that this man who is " committed to open and honest dialogue" couldn't or wouldn't take time out to answer any questions that might have been asked by Jamie. The thought of any politician being shy and retiring gives me a sinking feeling. especially one that is going to be dealing with other international leaders. Will he need his "security blanket" with him at all times or did we see his "security blanket" in that film. The thought that the police force of this country can be employed in such a cynical and high handed manner by people in high office gives me pause for thought.

  • 63.
  • At 05:15 PM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • Pip M wrote:

Agree entirely with Mike S. If the order is as shown, then it is a clear obstruction attempt, she knows who he is, yet still has him searched. If she has no knowledge of him, the search is highly reasonable.

This is a low switch by the BBC.

  • 64.
  • At 05:26 PM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • Mark Adams wrote:

I too remember the original film and was fascinated to read this article.

I am stunned that the deputy editor of Newsnight could write "whichever order the events had been shown the meaning would remain the same." The way the film is edited seriously influcences the story that is being told (as in any film). Doesn't the deputy editor of a flagship news and current affairs programme have any knowledge of the medium he is working in?

Cutting it out of sequence in this way blatant deception, a clear 'sexing up' of a weak story. The fact that this does not breach BBC produced guidelines simply makes it even more shocking.

  • 65.
  • At 05:43 PM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • Mike Norton wrote:

No, the meaing is not remotely affected by the sequence of events, the behaviour of Brown's press team and security is consistantly devious and evasive throughout the clip, and now amount of editing is going to change that. The complaints are a ridiculous attempt to salvage some credibility from their behaviour.

  • 66.
  • At 05:46 PM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • Nick W wrote:

Oh come on poor Jamie is getting the kind of response to his 'in your face' style of trying to bait politicians.

No Prime Minister of any country wants to be treated in the fashion Jamie thinks is his 'right'.

How would Jamie feel about being followed around the country for 5 weeks endlessly? Going to the supermarket on Sunday morning, visiting and leaving his girlfriend or boyfriend's flat in a bedraggled state, or going to or leaving the gym, after having drinks outside his favourite club (or innocently bumping into a local drug dealer?) or having a coffee etc etc?

This type of alleged journalism is a waste of his time and for the BBC for paying for weeks of 'nothing' footage.

What is THIS fascinating question that dear Jamie can't dare ask at the monthly PM's Questions with journalists Tony Blair instituted or hasn't sought to ask at any time over the past 10 yrs?

What is it, Jamie?

Some professionalism please?

  • 67.
  • At 06:21 PM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • James wrote:

Mr Gibb this is a very cheeky article on journalistic integrity, given that you have misleadingly stated an opinion as a fact (namely, that meaning was not altered). Mike S has already pointed out why our interpretation as viewers is likely to differ, and it is not 'remote' or minor as you imply. I wonder if this is an indication that this distorting style of journalism is so insidious that you aren't even consciously aware of doing it any more!

  • 68.
  • At 07:12 PM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • Jim Wilkins wrote:

Watched the article. Personally I could not see any difference, but I'm wondering, why were the scenes in question not displayed chronologicaly? Is there something subtle going on? Would it not have been more correct to have the scenes displayed chronologicaly anyway, if only to avoid complaints? Or to let the viewer know so they can judge.

  • 69.
  • At 07:28 PM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • S.A.O. wrote:

I have to agree with Mike S. The chronology of the clips does seem to bias the impression of events. It appears that the press secretary targets Jamie at the CBI event following a prior meeting (the 'small talk' event). As the CBI event was her first meeting this was clearly misleading.

The overall impact on the feel of the feature is not significant, as there is plenty of more direct evidence of Jamie being kept away from Gordon Brown to make it unnecessary. This begs the question as to why present clips which recount a process in the wrong order without making this clear.

  • 70.
  • At 07:40 PM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • Roy Kelly wrote:

I was dismayed with the footage of the Queen. I don't believe that those responsible in the BBC did not intend to do what they did. I believe that it was a deliberate twisting of the facts. People in the news media seem to think that they have a right to change fact into fiction in an effort to retain viewers. News reporting these days is too much opinion and not enough fact.
It is a sad day when you can't be sure that the BBC is being honest.

  • 71.
  • At 07:47 PM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • duncan mckay wrote:

I happen to admire & dislike aspects of A.Cambell and i do admire and love the bbc. Thats actually why i'm making this post:

Well done for reviewing past video footage and it would speak volumes if the BBC setup and enforced a no editing events out of order policy on itself and its suppliers. At the momment is it still optional? If so why? While were on the subject:

1. Online latest edition of newsnight player cuts off cambell interview short. Why? ifs its technical ... fix it. Because it looks like your cutting short a man who brought the bbc to its knees because greg dyke couldn't be bothered to fulfil the editor checks for errors part of his remit. I bet its just technical but apperances matter.

2. The pannel you had to "objectively review" cambell's diaries all hated or were fired due to cambell. Where were equal numbers of cambells advoates? Or do you think 4-5 critics vs one cambell is fair? I don't. Its like asking a gang to review someone they hate. A fair jury? Would you like to be judged by people who hated you and you had fired? Is this bbc impartiality?

3. Heres a pertitent topic for newsnight....who judges the judges? Our mps are subject to vast scrutiny (rightly so) but who scrutinises journalists? In reality no one. If they ever do admit error (a painfully rare occurance) its an apology on page 23 vs the pg 1 attack piece based on error. Oh wait we have the PCC a pathetic sham of a "regulator" that had to wait until it recieved a complaint before acting upon an innocent young woman [KM] being hounded. Surely jounralists can concieve a tougher system of self regulation. Who judges and scrutises the media? I've lost track of how many times a journalist is convinced of a conspiracy one month and then when disproved never utters a word of regret. Never mind someones reputation/life/career is in ruins..they don't give a dam. Theres a reason why journalists are often viewed as nearly as untrustable as politicans in virtually every opinion poll...the problem is when journalists lie / are incompent they have a 'megaphone', vast corporatoon behind them and an 'army'; and no real oppostion. This isn't a dig at the bbc its a digg at some newspapers.

4. Also how do we know their not making stories or sources up? They could do so for decades without anyone being able to prove a thing. Surely journalists would accept a verification pannel i.e. a independant 2 journalist pannel who they had to reveal their source to?

Time for some media scrutiny or is the media too scared to point the camera its its own direction? Maybe if a paper accused one of a crime, hounded them, hunted them and their family and then admited on pg 23 (6 months later) they had got it wrong; maybe then another voice for media scrutiny would appear inside the media (the real spin doctors).

Until reputable journalists confront the liars and the incompent jounralist within and the complete lack of regulation / opposition; then the cycle continues.

Yes, the broadcast order of events does make events more dramatic and the Treasury PR more sinister.

This remixing of news smacks of what 'The Day Today' called infotainment.

People expect higher standards from BBC news than other media, and when the Beeb gets caught spinning with the rest of them then it's natural to question what the BBC is for.


Britain, and for all I know, the World, suffers from jaded appetites. Food is now overpoweringly salt, sweet or spicy and drinks are more alcoholic. In entertainment and media: violence is more graphic, music louder, sex more explicit and nudity more confrontational and swearing running out of forbidden words. In news and politics, presentation is more dramatic, claims are wilder.
Gibbon wrote that show and luxury, obscene wealth, freakish art, bogus creativity and general fecklessness, heralded the end of Rome. It is all of a piece.
Were he alive today, I suggest he would add the evaporation, almost over-night, of BBC standards. Britain is a rotting tree, flowering and fruiting wildly but living on the decay of her heart. Blair’s tenure epitomised this phenomenon. When the tree falls – as Biblical Blair might have said – “Great will be the fall of it.”

  • 74.
  • At 08:38 PM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • Malcolm Hussain-Gambles wrote:

I missed the episode on Newsnight, I think it is extremely worrying that we are living in a society where the prime minister is using the police to prevent press access. Especially using the anti-terrorism laws, this makes me think we are heading towards Russia's treatment of the press.
Does this mean life assurance policies will go up for reporters based in the UK?

On a more serious note, I think it shows how corruption and incompetency are now regularly hidden from the public by a refusal of the Labour party to ever speak about what they do to the public and the extent to which they are willing to go to do this.

  • 75.
  • At 09:22 PM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • Tom Nicolson wrote:

A great film from Newsnight and excellent investigative journalism as a whole. I think the cut makes a small difference but no way impacts the film as a whole.

Either way the angle, message and story would be the same with the same connotations.

And as an overall impression: Brown- bad start fella.

  • 76.
  • At 09:33 PM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • Robert Brown wrote:

Newsnight is not the same high quality program it used to be 4-5 years ago. I was away in the USA working for 3 years and was very disappointed to discover Newsnight had become very gimmicky and was not 100% news. I am in my mid-20s, and contrary to what one might imagine, I like my news dry, and find it patronizing to have the content and quality of debate diminished on hard issues in an effort to be popularist. If the BBC fails to provide high quality news and debate then nobody else will, and it will be another nail in the coffin for our democracy, which is quite clearly a joke already. People aren't going to engage with real politics, unless it is treated as a high minded endeavour, and all society will suffer as a result.

  • 77.
  • At 09:33 PM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • Alex Griffiths wrote:

"So... We screwed up pretty bigtime recently but here, have a look at this!"

Good work guys.

  • 78.
  • At 10:26 PM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • Alan Firminger wrote:

The wrong question is asked. It is wrong to tamper with the truth, whether it affects the immediate story or not, because you don't know where it will lead or how others will use the material.

  • 79.
  • At 11:05 PM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • peter wrote:

I agree with Mike S; the ordering is significant. It should have been shown chronologically and were it not for this right of reply Robbie Gibb's comment would be very disappointing.

  • 80.
  • At 11:21 PM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • Baz wrote:

If it is news, then events should always be shown in chronological order, unless it is clearly indicated that they are archive. I fail to see any reason for not sticking to that except if deliberately trying to change the slant on something. I find it appalling that the deputy editor of Newsnight should be saying it doesn't matter. No wonder so many people have lost trust in the BBC.

  • 81.
  • At 11:56 PM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • Kats wrote:

I agree with the last comment - it does put a different spin on things. The voice-over even says 'the *same* treasury offical' (at 3.44) implying that the CBI incident followed after the 'earlier' one. That word alone is deliberately misleading.
I found the whole thing fairly slanted to be honest, such as accusing people of 'watching proceedings from the shadows' (5.10) when the camera is deliberately filming him from around a corner. Just a little earlier, the voice-over says that they are denied access because '*apparently* there is a pool camera.' Why the word 'apparently?' Either there was or there wasn't a pool camera and if there was, it seems perfectly reasonable to not let every other camera crew in. And being 'singled out' for scrutiny too, implies that he was the only journalist being checked out, which seems unlikely considering he was in a press pen. I expect a million times more from the BBC and Newsnight.

  • 82.
  • At 11:57 PM on 14 Jul 2007,
  • jeremy ross wrote:

the basic question is, why *didn't* you simply show the sequence in chronological order?

  • 83.
  • At 12:29 AM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • Kenneth Heal wrote:

When I see this I have to say I struggle to say the UK is democracy; indeed it reminds me more of the sort of police state we saw in the former German Democratic Republic.

  • 84.
  • At 02:11 AM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • MC wrote:

The film was cut to make the police intervention, at the CBI, appear to be an escalation from the attention Jamie Campbell received at the 'earlier' event.

The question has to be asked as to why the film was deliberately edited in this way. You have not given any explanation! Please don't tell me it was a mistake/accident.

I can only conclude that this mis-representation was for dramatic effect.

Once again BBC spin has won over a straightforward reporting of the facts. There have been a number of instances of this lately. The most serious of which was the David Kelly affair.

This is becoming an extremely bad habit!

  • 85.
  • At 02:14 AM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • Phil M wrote:

I personally found this film extremely disturbing. Not so much that Mr Brown refused to speak to the journalist in question, nor even that his security kept moving him on from his immeditiate vicinity. What I found incredible was that police were apparently ordered to follow the journalist to an area completely out of way of Mr Brown. I fail to see how this could be in any way legal in a supposedly free country. If this is indeed true, I woud consider it a disgraceful abise of power on the behalf of whoever made this decision.

  • 86.
  • At 02:23 AM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • david kay wrote:

i remember watching the news item and even thought about complaining to the police about their abuse of power in detaining the jounalist...lucky i didnt, especially since the beeb is abusing its power by the bucket full

you ppl have taken 1 giant leap towards privatisation this week, to the great appreciation of the british public

keep up the bad work!!!

  • 87.
  • At 02:49 AM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • Ian M wrote:

Talking to the press means talking to the people, the electorate, and this films makes Gordon Brown look like he's got something to hide becaue he's not being given a chance to do some preperation.

  • 88.
  • At 04:10 AM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • A. Simmons wrote:

Agree with the above. The use of subtle changes and choices can slant a factual piece considerably to get the message across. The BBC must be factual. And those who provide programs for it honest (even if the programs are a bit more boring and don't make their point so well. Otherwise there is not much difference between Eastenders and Newsnight.

  • 89.
  • At 07:29 AM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • Anat wrote:

Not convinced. The BBC has been doing the same thing for years with the Arab-Israeli conflict, reporting an Israeli supposed 'attack' which was actually a response to an Arab attack, but reversing the order and mentionting the original Arab attack only at the very end (if at all), after the reader/spectator has already got the impression that Israeli actions are totally wanton. This is clearly a method at the BBC. Shame on you.

  • 90.
  • At 07:48 AM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • Richard Laing wrote:

Do you mean the film maker deliberately showed the sequences in the wrong order? If so, why?

Or, do you mean the film maker accidentally showed the sequences in the wrong order, and the BBC hopes people will agree it does not matter?

Chronology matters. Get it right always.

And, don't use weasel words such as "remotely" when you ask a question, Robbie.

  • 91.
  • At 08:03 AM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

It did make a difference, as in the CBI incident Jamie is apparently stopped and searched as a counter-terrorism measure.

- If Jamie is already known to the press officer (the film version) then the stop&search would appear highly malicious.
- If he is not (the real version) then it would be perfectly reasonable.

Therefore, the chronological exchange of the events represents the Brown team's behaviour as having been a lot worse than it really was.

  • 92.
  • At 09:21 AM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • dd wrote:

Sorry - it definitely makes a difference.

Was it a mistake/slip-up or cynical editing? It has to be one of the two...

  • 93.
  • At 09:31 AM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • Graeme McDonald wrote:

This is a misrepresentation - full stop. The only thing that matters is how your audience interpret your output, which must be absolutely accurate. When you manipulate the facts or chronology of a story in any way you betray yourselves and insult us.

  • 94.
  • At 09:37 AM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • Phil P wrote:

As described by Mike S's post, the order clearly does affect the situation. I'd accept the need to reorder footage to make for a better flow, but, if as argued by Robbie Gibb, it makes no difference here then why choose to reverse it at all?

However, forgetting that issue, I wonder what at point of the film. This seems to be a non-story that looks to be more about the film maker (wanting to be Louis Theroux?) than anything to do with politics in this country.

What do we learn from this? That it is harder to get to speak to the PM than the Leader of the Opposition? That the PMs officials try to keep what seem to them to be time wasters away from him?

  • 95.
  • At 10:59 AM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • C Wilson wrote:

I've watched the clip twice and I don't think the order makes any difference. In one clip the press officer makes a call and then coincidentally the police haul Jamie to one side to interrogate him. The other clip shows the press officer talking to Jamie, again coincidentally blocking his access to Gordon as he drives by. I think the order is therefore immaterial. I can empathise with public figures to some extent with regard to the press who I feel quite ofter over step the mark and are too intrusive, however anyone who choses to be a politician to be open to questions whilse engaging in their public duties and I think using the police to block reporters under the terrosim act is not only an abuse of that act but also extremely scary. To me it smacked of something they would do in Communist Russia or in dictatorships, not in a democratic country. Overall very worrying.

  • 96.
  • At 11:26 AM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • Nigel J wrote:

I agree with Mike S. But even if the meaning was unchanged by the order (and who is the correct person to judge) it is nevertheless an untruthful account of events.

It is not only unethical, but also plain bad journalism to 'adjust' truth, even if only for presentational purposes.

  • 97.
  • At 11:38 AM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • Paul Higgins wrote:

Dear Robbie, Get a grip. If you think think the change in chronology doesn't lead to misrepresentation then standards really are slipping. Ask yourself why the filmmaker would bother to change the order of events if it had no impact on meaning. It's the Nick Broomfield school of documentary-making; lots of nudges and insinuations with very little content.

  • 98.
  • At 12:00 PM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • Affy wrote:

Interesting film. I do think that Jamie Campbell is trying to jazz up the whole scenario as it were. The order of events are important and do make a difference. In deliberately changing them is an act to mislead the viewers, without a shadow of a doubt. This action results in the film losing all credibility. Lets face it Jamie, you wanted to make a bigger impact by "lying" to the viewers - hardly fair to the public.

  • 99.
  • At 12:03 PM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • Terry Keefe wrote:

Having seen the original Newsnight feature and now watched the undoctored version I feel strongly that the broadcast version was misleading.

Taken in the context of being preceded by clips of an enthusiastically cooperative David Cameron, the article does give the impression that Gordon Brown was directly involved in, or at least aware of, obstructing the journalist. The unrevised version gives a different impression, a possibly over officious Press Officer doing his job. Perhaps he just did not trust the journalist, making him a good judge of character as it turns out.

BBC claims that the changes make no difference are disingenuous. Why else did they change the sequence if it was not to alter the impact on the audience. Cutting clips to reduce length I can understand, changing history, albeit a fractal element, is deceit.

  • 100.
  • At 12:06 PM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • jg wrote:

'Fake but accurate' is that really what we can expect from the BBC now? As others have pointed out, the re-ordering DID change the impression given by the sequence. As has been reported in the Daily Mail:

"A source close to Mr Brown said: 'Newsnight doctored the film to make it appear as though the Press officer called the police because Mr Campbell had clashed with her earlier that night. 'It is totally untrue. The events happened two weeks apart and in a different order. Newsnight changed it to make it more damaging."

Do the BBC just not care about standards any more? Cut, doctor and spin any material that results in its own political agenda being advanced. And just who is responsible for this appalling situation? It seems the BBC can deceive the whole nation but no-one gets into trouble for this. Still, jobs for life at the BBC, no matter how incompetent and biased you are. Shocking and shameful.

No-one should trust any part of the BBC output now.

  • 101.
  • At 12:07 PM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • James Elliott wrote:

I do think the chronology does make some difference and, viewed in the correct sequence, does somewhat soften the involvement of the police. I do however think that the central theme of the film, the inaccessability of Gordon Brown, holds good.

  • 102.
  • At 12:15 PM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • David Hitchman wrote:

Newsnight has also now fallen into the trap of making the news fit the story. A few months ago there was the non story about Arsenal FC being 'bigged up' to try and make a story which fell flat and had no substance or legs and now this. Of course reversing the sequence alters the whole perception from one of understandable caution and concern taken by the security team to one of over reaction and paranoia.I shall not be tuning in as regulary if at all. If I want 'fit up TV' then there are plenty of Satellite stations that provide better entertainment.

  • 103.
  • At 12:24 PM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • Peter wrote:

If the programme is meant to be factual there's no excuse at all for not showing events in the order in which they actually happened.

The fact that the BBC don't even see that this could be a problem goes a long way to explain why it's losing people's trust.

  • 104.
  • At 12:38 PM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • Bryan C wrote:

I am a former, fairly senior news journalist at the BBC World Service. I was always concerned to uphold both truth and accuracy, which do not always coincide. I saw this Newsnight report when it was first broadcast, and have looked at it again online, confirming my initial impression of the sequence concerned. The unmistakable implication is that the Treasury press officer, having simply spoken to the journalist on the first occasion, called the police to deal with him on the second occasion. Now we're told that that second occasion actually happened first. The whole impression is different. The only conceivable reason I can think of for switching the chronology is to improve the story at the expense of the truth. If this is what now passes for honesty at the BBC, the organisation is in big, big trouble.

  • 105.
  • At 12:58 PM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • david lennox wrote:

I have to agree with Mike S.
I too watched the original broadcast and I enjoyed it, but felt the treatment of Mr Campbell was over the top. However when viewed in the correct order the treatment seemed reasonable and not as negative as first portrayed. I feel saddened that I cannot feel confidence in what we are watching from the BBC anymore.

  • 106.
  • At 12:59 PM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • Steve Turner wrote:

Are you seriously suggesting that the order in which events are portrayed is not important? If it doesn't have any effect on the report, "did change why you it"? Steve Turner.

  • 107.
  • At 01:25 PM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • Alan wrote:

Who on earth do you think you are? What was this (the film referred to), a pursuit of balanced journalism? A sniff of a story? I saw it on the night and wondered why I was watching such tripe on a supposedly quality news programme.

There is no doubt at all that TV reporting is dumbing down at a fast rate and unfortunately Newsnight is a good example of this.

There really isn't that much difference now listening to Humphreys on R4 or Paxman on BBC2 and Big Brother on C4. At least the latter are totally upfront about it being rubbish.

  • 108.
  • At 01:38 PM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • Jon wrote:

I agree with Mike S above, in chronological order you'd see the press officer getting the police to check out a stranger hanging around (at night) just as Gordon Brown was about to leave - this seems perfectly reasonable to me. In the order shown it appears that she is using the police to block the reporter - quite a serious accusation really.

This doesn't (in my opinion) change the overall conclusion of the report, but i think the objection to this part of it is perfectly valid.

  • 109.
  • At 03:02 PM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • Andrew Hall wrote:

Yes, I do think it made a difference, actually, and think the innuendo that the police are being used as a political tool is offensive.

It is also clear that you would have used one of your normal correspondents to do a serious report, but you've hired this clown precisely in order to stir up contoversy.

Another example of the revolting self-regard of Newsnight.

  • 110.
  • At 03:08 PM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • E Mason wrote:

I have to agree with Mike S.

I would add to what he said, that the narration is somewhat misleading, given the chronological order: during the CBI incident, the narrator says that it is "the same" press officer that called the police, thus implying that "we'd seen her before" (which he wouldn't have done, given the actual order of events).

And whenever events are ever taken out of order, the question always has to be: why? What impression were we meant to glean from these events? And the impression here seems to be, that even though the press officer knew Jamie she still called the police. And given the true order of events, this impression is wrong.

It also puts the meeting in a new light. If the press officer had previously called the police on a man, only to see the same man at a later event, she'd be curious as to who he was and why he was there. And so it's much more believable that she had honest intentions in that meeting.

  • 111.
  • At 03:31 PM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • Craig wrote:

I agree with the previous respondent. When viewed in the correct order my opinion of the female press officer is less negative than it would be having viewed your film without the knowledge of its true chronological order.

After the Queen incident i was willing to believe that it was an isolated case of cutting to create a reality that doesn't exist. Now i'm not so sure.

  • 112.
  • At 04:03 PM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • Al wrote:

I watched this sequence just now and there isn't actually much to say about the order of the events - but getting it right is the number one law of journalism; inaccuracy seems a trait of many at the BBC and you cant afford to let standards slip. The upshot - it didn't really make any difference the piece.

The issue for me was more of a scruffy student representing the BBC. Sad to say but a haircut and 'proper' clothes do actually send a message and he sends the wrong one.

So overall the message of the piece was that a serving member of the government and next PM is harder to get to than the leader of the opposition - ummm, yes, as expected. No sensible point was made here other than that you will be hassled by the authorities if you act like a bit of a prat.

I noticed that the piece starts with Jamie saying Cameron answered all questions last year during the leadership race - actually Jamie was ultimately refused further access to Cameron for asking silly questions - why wasn't that clip shown? I wonder...

  • 113.
  • At 04:22 PM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • Joanna Heath wrote:

I second the post above; the meaning is definitely different. It isn't helped by the fact that this is a pretty dreadful film desparately trying to portray Brown as an evil antisocial paranoid exclusive leader but only being able to do so through rewriting the chronology and employing a patronising "story-time" voice for the full duration. I didn't even watch to the end. After all it's the press officers not Brown who are causing the trouble.

  • 114.
  • At 04:32 PM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • patrick taylor wrote:

The concept that the BBC can re-arrange events at all needs serious thought. I can see no good reason for ever altering the chronology of events - perhaps this fundamental point could be explained?

Incidentally I rate chumminess with the press incredibly low on my desirable attributes of a Prime Minister list. In fact I would see it as a negative, and I am not alone in seeing pandering to the media as a minus

  • 115.
  • At 04:45 PM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • Tony Gibson wrote:

It appears to me that it is the BBC policy of farming programmes out to independent producers that is the cause of the current debacle.

It may be acceptable for programmes that offer drama, music or comedy, but for factual programmes that offer politics, news and documentary it must now be apparent to all concerned that it no longer appropriate.

  • 116.
  • At 05:02 PM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • lofi wrote:

Having just viewed the clip, I am left wondering how you conclude the order does not matter?

I'm beginning to wonder if the BBC really does have professional cultural problems after all.

  • 117.
  • At 05:23 PM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • mark dunn wrote:

What *I'm* unhappy with is the modern BBC's astounding and unforgivable illiteracy. Look, for example, at the inadequacies in this paragraph from the article above -- not the least of them being the way the omission of a simple comma from one sentence makes it say something quite different from what the writer must mean:

"On the day before Gordon Brown took over as prime minister we broadcast Jamie’s film about his attempts to get an interview with the then chancellor. They were unhappy with the film in general but directed their complaint at how the film portrayed a Treasury press officer claiming the chronology of two events were out of sequence and as such misrepresented the events. [...]"

Incredible. When somehting as basic as this is beyond the BBC's staff, it's no wonder that far more important things go wrong.


Without Mike S's comment, it would have been difficult to know precisely what we were supposed to be looking for in the video clip. There is a vague reference to an incident at the CBI, without mentioning that it involved the police.

"THEY were unhappy with the film in general" was also unhelpful, since there were no plural nouns in the preceding comment. I had to read twice or three times to deduce who was unhappy with the meaning (presumably Treasury officials?).

If this is an attempt to be open and candid about another alleged instance of wilful mis-editing then it has failed abysmally. It looks more like an attempt to bury the issue by flannel and waffle.

  • 119.
  • At 05:41 PM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • Ian Winter wrote:

Personally I think any difference in meaning is irrelevant. In an unbiased piece of work there should be no logical reason to switch the order of events, a change in order of events alone suggests at least some admission that the producer felt they could better make their point by switching the order of events and hence admission of at least some amount of bias.

In a situation like this the BBC should err on the side of caution and at a very minimum admit that the report in question was tainted.

  • 120.
  • At 05:43 PM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • Ged Robinson wrote:

In the era of global terrorism we should allow anyone to approach Senior Ministers of State in such an ad hoc way. This would help us protect the security of them them as individuals and the stability of our national Government.

Of course I am being facetious...

Come on BBC, more thought needed.

  • 121.
  • At 05:47 PM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • Jeremy Bentham wrote:

I didn't like this piece, but I don't think the order would make a huge difference. The problem lied in the 'spin' Campbell was putting on events. It was obvious that what was happening was not how Campbell was telling it. But the desire was there, nevertheless. Campbell sets out with a narrative in mind, and then behaves and acts (and edits/voice-overs) in such a way to try and make that narrative occur.

Campbell came across as self-obsessed, ridiculous and semi-delusional. When it was patently obvious Gordon Brown didn't grant an interview because he was extremely busy, Campbell seemed in a 'fugue state' unable to move outside his narrative of Brown and New Labour as authoritarian and anti-free speech.

Ultimately, I didn't feel lied to, because anyone who is not Campbell can see perfectly clearly what was going on. It just flags up a worrying fashion in journalism.

  • 122.
  • At 05:51 PM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • Keith M wrote:

While I loathe Gordon Brown and am happy for this piece to ridicule his inaccessibility and rudeness, it is undeniable that changing the chronological order of events has made a substantive difference to their interpretation.

For a deputy editor of Newsnight to suggest otherwise makes me fear for the rest of the BBC's output. Why can the corporation not stick to reporting the news rather than trying to manipulate or create it?

  • 123.
  • At 05:57 PM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • GJ Miller wrote:

Whatever change in sequence of events made no difference to me.

Still, I'm not sure how much people care about how hard it is for an independent filmmaker to get a quote. I would like to know if Mr. Campbell was allowed to state he was representing Newsnight or if he is someone the press office should have known. It's a sad but true state of affairs that--Thanks Internet--there are a lot of ways that even simple quotes can be distorted and I can understand why they might have been wary.

But their concern does seem dangerously excessive and a borderline abuse of power. I don't have much sympathy for Mr. Brown. He reminds me of Mario Cuomo, who made great speeches but was way too uncomfortable with others to succeed at the national level. A priest, a university president, yes. A U.S. president? No.

  • 124.
  • At 06:10 PM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • J Tanworth wrote:

Whether the meaning is changed or not, does it matter? Why change the chronology of events in a report at all? Is it really a good habit for a journalist to be in?

  • 125.
  • At 06:13 PM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • Stephen Conway wrote:

As a died in the wool Conservative, I normally would be happy to see Labour put under pressure.

However, on this occasion, I think Mr. Campbell crossed the line and came across as a stalker, and the worst kind of journalist.

If it is true that he then swapped the events round in the edit suite, to make the item more newsworthy, then this confirms my thoughts, and what is worse, he is obviously rather dishonest 'creating reality' rather than reporting it.

It is unfortunate that in this day and age, the competition to create headlines means that journalists are having to be economical with the truth.

I believe firmly in a free society where journalistic freedom to investigate and report issues that are important to the public is paramount.

I do believe though that so called journalists and photographers like Mr. Campbell abuse their position. They have become harassers rather than reporters.

  • 126.
  • At 06:16 PM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • Janet Bishop wrote:

The brief of this programme was to show Gordon Brown and the Labour Party in a negative light which you succeded in doing so. The portrayal of the Labour Party at the moment is appaling. With regard to Iraq, has no one thought to cimmision a proamme on why Thatcher and Bush did not roll into Iraq when they had the opportunity, would things be different now. I feel this subject would not suit your agenda so therefore will not be followed up. Your programme is doing exactly the same to the Labour Government as it did to the COnservative Government when you felt they had been in power too long.

  • 127.
  • At 06:28 PM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • Jason VN wrote:

I thought the entire item was over-dramatic, juvenile and not worthy of inclusion in a serious programme like Newsnight. I was not remotely surprised to see the reaction of various members of the security forces and government staff when faced with such an irritating individual. After all their duty is to protect those under their care.
Personally I am no paid-up member of the Gordon Brown fan club, however I wish the BBC would make better use of airtime and license-payers' money instead of dumbing-down news programmes in the misguided view that it will endear them to audiences.

  • 128.
  • At 06:49 PM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • peter gregory wrote:

I find the arrogance of this journalist simply incredible. Why on earth should he be expecting to be able to speak personally to the chancellor? Just because David Cameroon finds him interesting doesnt mean anyone else will. Doesnt seem to be a fit journalist to me, to be supported by my tax payers money. Bet he turns up sometime in the future as a conservative candidate for something.

  • 129.
  • At 06:53 PM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • Bern wrote:

In the story telling, there's an obvious difference made by swapping those two scenes, which I would guess is the reason why it was done. Are you really not seeing that difference?

If we had seen the CBI followed by the handshake scene, the impression would be of tight security around Gordon Brown (a stranger could not get through) followed by a little concession or weakness when a familiar face got a second chance to approach.

But shown the way things were, the handshake scene is an inciting incident causing personal special treatment against the reporter, as he suggests several times. It implies a "stop that man!" action by Gordon Brown or his office. That is a more interesting story. It might even hold some credence given the consistent lack of success the reporter had in his approaches.

But with the events seen in correct order, it is also possible that the reporter was given a chance and then blew it, having only himself to blame. "Gordon Brown snubbed me" is a very different story from "I am an ineffective reporter."

To choose one story over the other is an editor's job. To fail to see the difference between those stories, and the way in which they are told, suggests a lack of editorial talent. In that case, I would expect many more complaints and a critical lack of trust in future.

  • 130.
  • At 07:04 PM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • Nick T wrote:

I agree with the comment made by Mike S - the order does make a difference.

I wonder also how the broadcast version had the sequence it did: it must have been the result of an editorial process where the chronological order was changed - and presumably for a reason rather than randomly.

  • 131.
  • At 07:05 PM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • Thomas Sherwood wrote:

In his great 1939 film The Rules of the Game Jean Renoir says " We're in a period when everyone lies: pharmacists' handbills, Governments, the radio, the cinema, the newspapers... So how could you expect us poor individuals not to lie as well ? "

Now the BBC, even Newsnight, has joined in; it is characteristic that your deputy editor merely worries whether the lie in the program's montage actually mattered.

  • 132.
  • At 07:15 PM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • H McDonald wrote:

Just goes to show how false television is and how shallow tv people are in general. Arguing about wearing a tie seems to be a bit of a bluff!

  • 133.
  • At 07:23 PM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • John Barber wrote:

After looking over all the evidence available, I can only say that this proves to me that the BBC are incapable of the truth and should have their 'funding' from the viewer cancelled. They should be made to live in the real world and be run as a commercial operation (much as they do with the satellite stations UK....).

As a former government press officer myself perhaps I'm biased. But I agree with the comment above - the change in the order does make a difference. In the film it does seem as if the police involvement is heavyhanded and a result of the first meeting, which was in actual fact the second.

  • 135.
  • At 08:04 PM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • Marc Daniels wrote:

I agree with the previous poster. The editing suggested the press officer had acted outrageously. Why was the chronology reversed, if not to mislead people?

  • 136.
  • At 08:05 PM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • Nicemandan wrote:

The editing of programmes bought by the BBC should come into question. Editing provides the narrative for the entire story, so to change the chronological order is essentially manipulating someones words and actions to fit the director's own agenda and paint a false picture. (See Chris Morris's "Bushwhacked" as an excellent example of this).

The practice of editing in this way is used in reality TV shows to make you think something amazing or revelatory has happened, when the truth is actually a little more mundane. A reason why I hold the BBC in such high esteem is that it doesn't employ these tactics. What you saw was how and when it happened, presented in a non-biased way which allowed you, the viewer, to make up your own minds.

If the BBC continues to take the truth away from us like that and reports in a way that is telling us what to think, then they have crossed the line from reportage to propaganda.

  • 137.
  • At 08:09 PM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • Ian wrote:

It is reasonable to ask the police to check out the reporter at any time; this does not have any effect on the essential point of the film. The basic message of the film is entirely unaffected by the order of events. Brown's minders are rude and obstructive (on Brown's instructions) and Cameron's are not.

You can tell that this impression is a fair one and not a result of selective editing by the fact that Brown's spin doctors do not make any claims that Brown was accessible during the making of the film, but instead concentrate on an absurd technicality.

  • 138.
  • At 08:16 PM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • Tina S wrote:

I agree with Mike - the order does make a difference. The broadcast version of events made it look as though Jamie was been hassled or obstructed.

  • 139.
  • At 08:21 PM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • Marco Di Franco wrote:

I was disappointed in the BBC, less on the switching of the chronology or editorial guidelines but rather that this very unscientific and haphazard film was thought worthy of inclusion in a programme with otherwise good pedigree.
To "compare" needs to treat both sides equally and to establish a "control"

For five weeks of following David Cameron (Jamie's own claim) we were not shown any of the parallel trials with press officers, waiting and security that would have been necessary to get the end result - that rare insight and those snatched seconds of footage to confirm that David Cameron thought The Smiths were the best band of the 1980's.

A very poor scientific "evaluation" that had precisely no conclusion whatsoever.

  • 140.
  • At 08:37 PM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • Chris Bore wrote:

The order made a big difference to me, so your assumption that it would not is incorrect.

Why would you reverse the order of events? Is it something you do routinely? I do not understand why it would be necessary.

If you are confident the order of events makes no difference, then why not simply show events in the order they actually occurred? If you feel the need to alter the sequence, and feel it justified, then why not show the time and date stamps on all video clips so that we can judge for ourselves, and show a subtitle: "sequence of events edited because it makes no difference"?

  • 141.
  • At 08:57 PM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • Stephen Worrall wrote:

I think all items on the BBC must be shown in the correct order in which they occur, Imagine this happening in a court of Law, you would jump on it straight away.
Add to this the BBC's constant bias against the government then you will understand why this complaint has been made even though the outcome would have been the same, if you are allowed to continue to change the sequence of events on such a small issue what would stop you on a major event that could impact the country and or individuals in an adverse way.
As a member of the public i am fed up with the manipulation that the media uses day after day, its time you stopped this practice before you become as bad as the red top newspapers.

I agree with the comments made in the post above by Mike S.
We trust the BBC and there is no excuse for manipulating footage. Show it in the correct context and the correct order please!

  • 143.
  • At 09:34 PM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • Brian McC wrote:

An entertaining short film.

The order makes no difference whatsover when taken in the whole context of the film.

The underlying message, evidenced by the behaviour of Brown's tightly managed media team, is that he is inaccessible and unwilling to give the time of day to someone who makes the effort to speak to him. Unless you are 'on message' you don't get access. Classic New Labour, but without the charisma.

The funny parts of the film were seeing Charlie Whelan's pathetically snide comments about Cameron, and Brown's security officer describing Brown as "shy and introverted". He'll be great on the internatinal stage then.

  • 144.
  • At 09:43 PM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • J Smith wrote:

Perhaps the providers/editors/presenters or whoever of any footage intended to be "news" rather than personal comment should stick strictly to chronological sequence - and if diverting from that simple adage should be required to broadcast the fact that things did not happen in the order shown.

The other worrying aspect with "news" being edited largely of necessity, is that the removal of a few words or sentences in a sequence can completely change the tone. I have sometimes been appalled to watch a live interview followed shortly after by a "news" report on the interview which essentially contradicts what was broadcast live just minutes earlier.

Most people (other than the conspiracy theory bunch) do NOT expect BBC News to have a slant.

It's up to the BBC to ENSURE they maintain an absence of bias in all that they broadcast as news or comment.

  • 145.
  • At 11:09 PM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • Nik M wrote:

I don't care what order it was in, correct or not, the content is enough to confirm we're living in a police state

  • 146.
  • At 11:15 PM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • wpowilliamponeill wrote:

Judging from the comments,it would reasonably appear, that the BBC is not only demonstrably incompetent, but still does not get it, truth is, their cover has been blown.

  • 147.
  • At 11:36 PM on 15 Jul 2007,
  • Eleanor wrote:

I watched this report for the first time only after reading about Number Ten's complaints. It honestly strikes me that the order in which the events are given is misleading to the viewer. Regardless, why should Gordon Brown answer questions when ambushed outside of scheduled press events? Especially since besides claiming to be testing Brown's openness, the reporter never framed any substantive questions at all. Of course Brown should expect to be filmed going about his daily work, but I don't see why his press officers and security detail should have to work on camera. I admire the BBC greatly, and Newsnight in particular, but this report did not seem to be worthy of it.

  • 148.
  • At 12:16 AM on 16 Jul 2007,
  • A. wrote:

The partiality of the BBC in it's reporting is evident and clear for all to see. The fact that it has taken an incident involving the Queen and an Ofcom fine, for the BBC to suddenly begin worrying about it's percieved integrity is alarming!!

The cut away during the Tony Blair's last day as PM, while being applauded by the House of Commons, and the complaints from viewing public that then forced an apology, was my glaring evidence and confirmation of the BBC's lack of objectivity, when covering issues it is partial to.

  • 149.
  • At 12:39 AM on 16 Jul 2007,
  • Bugs Raplin wrote:

Nice of you to ask Ronnie... It's obvious that the order in which the footage was shown is misleading, surely?

First we're shown the incident where the press officer distracts Jamie. Next we're shown the police intervention at the CBI.

What order of events did you expect us to believe occured?

I have no beef with the way Newsnight puts together it's content, but dude, did you really have to ask the question? C'mon...

It's obvious that the press officer comes out of the film worse than if the proper sequence of events had been followed.

  • 150.
  • At 12:46 AM on 16 Jul 2007,
  • Ron wrote:

I don't believe that any editing which involves changes to the order of events is done for reasons other than making a point which cannot be substantiated by showing events in the correct sequence. In this item, it is obvious that the chronological order has been changed to make a point which has nothing to do with fact but is entirely to do with the impression that Jamie wanted to give. It seems that he wants to show Gordon Brown and his aides in a bad light and this is better achieved by changing the sequence of events.

  • 151.
  • At 12:55 AM on 16 Jul 2007,
  • Raj A. wrote:

Why the switch, events portrayed should be in the correct order, so viewer's are not mislead.

  • 152.
  • At 01:10 AM on 16 Jul 2007,
  • Joe Halas wrote:

I've just this minute watched the programme, and can't help but get annoyed at it's style and premice.

I actually took the effort to turn up to a Labour hustings, and was surprised by how ad-hoc and thrown together it all was. I may be baised (hell, I am baised) as a Labour supporter but Gordon's press offers were disarmingly chattly and informal, as indeed was Gordon.

Yes changing the order of the documentary changes the message but the sad fact for Jamie Campbell is a prudient Prime Minster to be doesn't do that sort of ad hoc interview with someone just standing outside. Security is also something that has to be taken seriously.

  • 153.
  • At 02:14 AM on 16 Jul 2007,
  • Neil Ross wrote:

To me, editing is the removal of extraneous material, whilst changing the time-line of a sequence of events, is manipulation with intent to deceive.

If there is no intention to deceive, then what is the purpose of changing the chronological order?

  • 154.
  • At 04:36 AM on 16 Jul 2007,
  • Georges Marly-Tennet wrote:

Well, considering the Queen blunder is still being reported from local newspaper in Malaysia to New York State, I can see why the mood is not good at the BBC.

Treating an undisputable national asset with that amount of irreverency, lack of understanding and gratitude for the access provided is just unbelievable.

A lady who gives everything she can personally give in the interest of your country and its people deserves much more, even from a publicity-hungry and unscrupulous BBC or affiliated editor. One almost comes to relish the days when lèse majesté won you a free stay at the Tower...

  • 155.
  • At 04:45 AM on 16 Jul 2007,
  • Heath Blair wrote:

The difference is subtle but effective. Playing fast and loose with context is the hottest game in media-town at the moment, and it's very worrying even at this relatively trivial level. Left unchecked, we could find that Orwell's prophecy of the Ministry Of Information, complete with cut-and-paste manipulations, is finally, irreversibly with us.

Sexing-up events to maintain the viewers attention? It's not worth it. Keep it straight. Keep it real. If that means losing a few undemanding viewers to Fox, or to whatever hyped-up fake news channel, then so be it.

BBC news has already introduced an uncomfortable degree of artifice in its presentation. The non-existent CGI news sets inhabited by chromakeyed presenters who are obliged to exude an excruciating plastic bonhomie is tough enough to take. Let the artifice stop there.

  • 156.
  • At 07:29 AM on 16 Jul 2007,
  • JLM wrote:

You folk just don't get it, do you?

You're not supposed to lie. You're the BBC.

  • 157.
  • At 08:15 AM on 16 Jul 2007,
  • maxwell wrote:

absolutely ludicrous. The order does change the inferrence taken from this film and i would concur with the first post here. Furthermore while i dont have a political axe to grind, this film, its manipulation in editing, the angle taken by the ludicrous reporter, the fact that such a buffoon is even employed; all point to the BBC´s utter lack of perspective when it comes to reportage, its role, effect and the obviousness of the BBC's partisanship. This a trend in reportage and frankly the BBC is contributing hugely to the demise of respect for media news and those targeted in these kind of 'exposes'. To conclude, crass irresponsibility in the manner this film was undertaken and gross use of spin thereafter. Learn your lessons BBC, this is so out of touch it is sad. Bit of advice, simply the reporters tone of voice in asking questions reveals his agenda... so the response is precluded. If the BBC doesn't understand that perhaps it is time they had a clearout.

  • 158.
  • At 08:17 AM on 16 Jul 2007,
  • Laurence Slater wrote:

Surely the point is not whether showing the scenes in chronological order makes any difference, but whether it breaks the faith of the viewer to believe what the broadcaster is putting in front of them is a true representaion of the facts.

In this particular case (in my opinion) it probably didn't make that much difference. But what is does do is the make the future Newsnight viewer think twice about whether what there seeing in in the correct order, and if not, how this might effect the story. For this reason alone it cannot be right to show the scenes out of sequence.

One final question. Why would the broadcaster actually want to show the scenes out of sequence? It can only be to manipulate the story, which cannot be right.

  • 159.
  • At 08:29 AM on 16 Jul 2007,
  • Martin wrote:

The changing of the order of the scenes presents a completely different picture of that incident, as if the police are being lied to by that press officer so that they can do her bidding. To deny that it does that is a sad indictment of the BBC being unable to see it's own bias. If you make a mistake, own up to it!

  • 160.
  • At 08:34 AM on 16 Jul 2007,
  • Dave R wrote:

when I watched this I actually sided with Gordon Brown's people, I found the reporter mildly irritating and a bit presumptious. Why should he have been granted access to Gordon Brown? If the press can't treat senior politicians with respect how can they expect to be treated any better?

  • 161.
  • At 09:07 AM on 16 Jul 2007,
  • Clapham left wrote:

Think James Campbell is better suited to "Light Ent" where he can take his clothes off and scream about.

Not a serious News show

Little wonder Gordon Brown avoided him he'd maybe heard of the *24 Show*

  • 162.
  • At 09:08 AM on 16 Jul 2007,
  • M.Reid wrote:

Having watched the film, I would say the chronology of the report was crucial to how it is viewed. It was extremely misleading to have it in reverse order & speak of the 'same' press officer when at that point she hadn't met you.
I suggest you try to re-order it with an altered voiceover and put that up next to the original for people to watch. This would prove how much to your advantage the amended order is. After all, if it didn't significantly alter your argument, you wouldn't have altered the chronology in the first place, would you?

  • 163.
  • At 09:10 AM on 16 Jul 2007,
  • richard wrote:

1) Representing documentary events as sequential, when in fact they originally occurred in a different order, is MISLEADING

2)Using emotive language to try and persuade us that this doesn't matter is EDITORIALLY BIASED

3)Not apparently being aware of this bias is the BBC's PROBLEM!

  • 164.
  • At 09:32 AM on 16 Jul 2007,
  • Andy wrote:

I can't believe that everyone is discussing the order of events as if they have some political importance. The whole report - which was nothing more than an exercise in narcissism by a particularly tiresome individual - has nothing to do with politics and more a reinforcement of the view of many of us that the standard of political journalism at the BBC is in serious decline

  • 165.
  • At 10:05 AM on 16 Jul 2007,
  • Bruce Davies wrote:

Good grief Newsnight - you've totally lost your integrity! You're meant to uphold serious journalism, not be a dishonestly edited magazine programme!

What on earth has gone on at the BBC recently? Blue Peter was simply poor judgement in the heat of the moment - that the victims were innocent children is of course, highly regrettable. But the dumbing down of Panorama? And now the way in which not only has the integrity of Newsnight proven to be lacking, but the programme is trying to excuse itself. Would it help if I held the sword while someone fell on it? I can no longer trust anything I see on the programme... Years of trust - gone. It's a sad day that sees the BBC forget what makes it so special. Never before have I felt the license fee worthless.

  • 166.
  • At 10:14 AM on 16 Jul 2007,
  • Simon Cooke wrote:

Whether it's Newsnight or the Queen, there really is no reason for the sequence to be anything other than chronological. Isn't that the way real-life works? Along with the Hutton inquiry, the Blue Peter incident & so many others, this is just another example that the BBC is nothing but a tabloid. And I don't have a problem with this. It's just that if you're going to be a tabloid, then can you do it with your own money & not with my TV tax money? Please?

  • 167.
  • At 10:23 AM on 16 Jul 2007,
  • Robert wrote:


Just tell the straight truth, heh?

Jamie Campbell didn't, so he ought to get his butt kicked, whether or not it changed the perception of the story, and whether or not he aimed to deceive.

I suspect the worst in each case, but I wasn't there, and in any case who cares? News & current affairs jocks should tell the precise truth for its own sake. If you try and tell the truth we'll trust you, if you distort the truth we won't.

We accept there are real dilemmas out there and you'll always have a struggle. But if you err on the side of the truth we'll forgive. And if, as happened in this case, you err in favour of dissembling, don't justify it away, try and stop it happening next time.

  • 168.
  • At 10:24 AM on 16 Jul 2007,
  • Chris wrote:

I totally disagree that the sequence of events didn't change anything. I remember seeing this when originally shown, and being outraged at how the police had apparently been brought in, subsequent to the previous involvement of the press officer. I now learn that the police involvement was weeks before the first-shown incident, and feel like a fool for having been manipulated and taken in by the editor's slight of hand.

This is nothing short of deception, on the part of Campbell and the Newsnight team, and they should be ashamed of themselves. I know I'll think twice before believing what I see on Newsnight in the future.

  • 169.
  • At 11:24 AM on 16 Jul 2007,
  • John Morton wrote:

The self-justification of the blog alone is telling. No wonder people neither trust the media nor politicians. Both are capable of spin. News should be just that, accuracy should be paramount and chronology is nearly always vital. Television is naturally manipulative - people's behaviour is often (usually?) unnatural when cameras are around. Some act up, some people run away, but real it often is not.
It's bad enough to see events live on screen happening and the commentator actually saying something different, at least the mistakes are obvious to the observant but manipulation of recorded events cannot be identified by viewers. So it serves the BBC right for the Treasury Press Office to complain. It's a shame there isn't some sort of accountability for the government's spin.

  • 170.
  • At 11:43 AM on 16 Jul 2007,
  • Joel wrote:

People no more perceive BBC journalists to be perfectly impartial as they do Treasury Press Officers to be professional and dignified. They're just young people doing what it takes to get on with their careers.
If a hairy man in a t-shirt approaches the Prime Minister for an interview it's hardly surprising he's distrusted more than a well-known journalist smartly-dressed and with an appointment.
Capable he may be, but Campbell should make not be surprised if a terror-obsessed government wants to use their self-appointed and deliberately vague powers to slow him down and stop his kind of shambolic pseudo-"citizen journalist" reporting from taking place.

  • 171.
  • At 11:44 AM on 16 Jul 2007,
  • Baz wrote:

I love that the Daily Mail asks 'How can the BBC justify spending the Licence Fee covering the Alastair Campbell Diaries?', on the fifth page of five pages of coverage of the diaries. And that was just one edition. They devoted similar amounts of coverage all week. The Mail on Sunday yesterday had it as their Book of the Week and described them as the 'political diaries of the year'!

The Mail asked why the BBC was devoting so much coverage to them. They were working on the basis that the BBC had a huge row with Campbell and naturally should have held a grudge against him for this and so denied him airtime. The only explanation they had in the end was the ludicrous idea that it was due to a kind of 'Stolkholm Syndrome'. Of course it could be the more obvious explanation. One word. Impartiality.

  • 172.
  • At 12:10 PM on 16 Jul 2007,
  • Ed Portas wrote:

It's shocking to me that you don't even attempt to apologise for the Newsnight story, but rather try to make out there is nothing wrong with it.

It is wholly wrong to show a film which depicts a narrative and then put sequences in which are out of chronological order.

I hope this was down to shoddy journalism or editing rather than a deliberate attempt to mislead, but the more this happens, the more people are losing their trust in anything the BBC reports.

I used to watch NewsWatch, until it became obvious that BBC bosses only ever defended themselves against any criticism, never actually accepting that they had done anything wrong.

The standards at the BBC are woefully short of what they used to be. You have far too many staff and far too many news operations to be able to have any real control over what you broadcast.

Perhaps it's time for a major slim-down. That might be the only way you can deal with this.

  • 173.
  • At 12:11 PM on 16 Jul 2007,
  • Sebastian wrote:

Sad, that even this piece written by the deputy editor continues the manipulation of the story.
You write "...claiming the chronology of two events were out of sequence", insinuating that this "out of sequence" is only a claim, not a fact. That is spin.
You should have written "...pointing out that the chronology of two events were out of sequence". That would have been honest.

You write that "the film didn’t breach any of the BBC’s producer guidelines".
Well, then the guidelines are too lax! BBC guidelines should set a benchmark for serious journalism.
Serious journalism would accept that heads of government can´t talk to every Tom Dick or Harry whenever it suits Tom Dick or Harry. Serious journalism would not gauge a politician´s "accessibility" on his willingness to give unscheduled interviews. Serious journalists would not shout "Gordon!" at the prime minister and expect to receive a reply. Serious journalism would not expect senior politicians to ingratiate themselves to the most trivial of the press. I could go on.

Mr Gibb´s successor will hopefully "put things in order" and tighten up the BBC guidelines.

  • 174.
  • At 01:33 PM on 16 Jul 2007,
  • alun pugh wrote:

Jamie Campbell makes a reasonable stab at being a comedian/reporter. It would make a decent undergraduate piece of coursework in that genre. But is anyone surprised he isn't allowed to doorstep a PM?

More youtube than newsnight even before the dodgy editing. how much did this cost?

  • 175.
  • At 01:51 PM on 16 Jul 2007,
  • An On wrote:

The saddest thing about this is the editor's blase blog excusing it- this all adds to the publics disengagement from politics, and having to question the impartiality of the bbc's flagship (and generally great) current affairs programme is almost surreal to my mind.

  • 176.
  • At 02:39 PM on 16 Jul 2007,
  • Richard wrote:

I must confess to not having read all 161 posts (bit of honesty) but there does appear to be a concensus.

Newsnight were wrong to edit this piece out of order, it does matter to the viewers and it appears to be dishonest.

Do you think Newsnight or BBC will take a blind bit of notice?

I doubt it very much because as much as I admire and respect the BBC for the most part, it is their failure to recognise their own weaknesses that is dragging them down.

Take the MMR 'scandal'. The BBC are running around suggesting that a particular report by an individual caused 'panic' amoung parents. No it didn't, the panic amoung parents was caused by the BBC (and other media outlets) not understanding science, not reporting it correctly and acting like headless chickens. Todays news story should be about how the media did such a bad job in it's reporting.

The BBC it not a commercial TV station, it should not have to chase viewers in the same way ITV or Channel 4 does because it does not have advertisers to please. This surely means that news can be reported as news. The BBC should be immune from tabloid tactics such as wild specuation, sensational language, dumbing down, hype, spin and cheese.

It should also mean that newsreaders can sit behind a desk .. who thought that standing up to read the news was a good idea. I'll bet that no viewer requested it and it has made no difference to viewer figures. However, style and presentation wins over substance and content again eh?

  • 177.
  • At 02:59 PM on 16 Jul 2007,
  • Richard wrote:

In the pursuance of a good story, the film-maker has chosen a time at which the two people concerned are bound to have a large discrepancy in their respective attitudes to the press. In the run-up to becoming PM, Brown had lots of coverage and little time to pander to lone journalists. Cameron, by contrast, was being eclipsed by Brown's exposure so it's no surprise if he is friendlier to the press.

I suspect that this timing was a conscious decision by the film-maker to gain maximum sensationalism, either for political or career gains. Add in the stupidly emotive commentary & selective editing and it makes for tabloid hacking in the guise of serious journalism. Another nail in the coffin of Newsnight.

  • 178.
  • At 03:02 PM on 16 Jul 2007,
  • Sebastian wrote:

alun pugh (comment #170) has a point: how much did this cost? Have you already paid this mendacious reporter for this doctored film? Are you going to claim the money back? It´s the public´s licence fee money after all!

In one sense this is trivial
The matter in itself is of little consequence.

In another sense this is a _very_ critical matter for the BBC
The matter does not sit by 'itself' but is part of the BBC's broad cannon of output. We the public cannot be expected to believe and trust the BBC in BIG matters if the BBC cannot be bothered to get the 'small' matters correct.

  • 180.
  • At 04:28 PM on 16 Jul 2007,
  • Alex wrote:

I happened to watch the Jamie Campbell item on Newsnight and I can categorically say if you'd shown the whole thing backwards it couldn't possibly have been worse.

It was a pointless, deliberately nieve and childish film by a Hoxton-esque-trendy-come-student who clearly imagines he is cleverer than he is. He has a long career in journalism ahead of him now.

Having said that, the Brown PR man made amateur mistakes.

  • 181.
  • At 04:57 PM on 16 Jul 2007,
  • JG wrote:

After going through these replies again, and the statement the BBC have made when starting this thread, the thing I find really amazing is that the "false but accurate" reporting which you are defending does not actually breach any guidelines for a journalistic report. Just what kind of guidelines are these that allow any kind of spin and rearrangement of a news story to fit the message you wanted to get across? When I watch a report, I want to know that what I am seeing is a real representation of events as they happened. Are you really saying that your journalists can chop and change the sequence of events to fit their required narrative, whether this changes the story or not, and this is OK with the BBC? If so then you are in bigger trouble than I at first thought.

  • 182.
  • At 05:05 PM on 16 Jul 2007,
  • Wez wrote:

It seems the BBC has a problem with broadcasting news items chronologically. This has been happening since at least 09/11/2001 when you reported on the collapse of WTC7 some 23 minutes before this unprecedented and unexpected event actually happened, yet that doesn't seem to warrant further investigation by the beeb unlike such trivial matters as you discuss above. Strange...

  • 183.
  • At 09:05 PM on 16 Jul 2007,
  • Andre Vornic wrote:

The meaning is utterly distorted by the editing. The reporter spuriously suggests that the press officer calls the police on him KNOWING who he is: he asserts the falsified sequence of events by referring to her as THE SAME press officer, conveying the wrong impression that she's resorting to muscular tactics after making his acquaintance the first time around. Whereas in fact, as it turns out, she first sees an unidentified man loitering about and calls the police; it is on the second occasion that, having found out he's a journalist, she goes up to him and speaks to him in a perfectly civil manner. The reversal of the order makes the false case that Gordon Brown's entourage run a police state.

In other words, it is perfectly natural and justifiable to call the police when first confronted with an intruder, and then to enter a civilised dialogue with him/her when it emerges they are in fact harmless. But to first enter a dialogue, ascertain the person's harmless quality, and THEN call the police is unnatural and wrong. The film was twisted to suggest the latter scenario, when in fact the former had occurred.

As a BBC journalist myself, I find the idea that the order doesn't matter unspeakably shaky on both logical and editorial grounds.

  • 184.
  • At 09:37 PM on 16 Jul 2007,
  • S. Evans wrote:

Showing the "Queen" scenes in the wrong sequence to give a false impression is embarrassing for the BBC, but there have been more serious precedents for "wrong sequences" from other organisations.

When the Warren Commission published an account of President Kennedy's assassination, they printed frames from the Zapruder film in reverse sequence, giving the impression of the President's head being flung forward by a bullet (suggesting a shot from behind). After lawyer Mark Lane's citizens' committee pointed out that JFK's head had been thrown backwards, the Warren committee said the wrong sequence was a printer's error.

  • 185.
  • At 09:48 PM on 16 Jul 2007,
  • Jeremy Bentham wrote:

I would like to change my mind about the effect of changing the sequence of events. I now do think it did make quite a bit of difference and the Govt were right to complain.

The comments appear to be 90% against this piece by Jamie Campbell. I hope that far more stringent rules are introduced and enforced at the BBC in future.

  • 186.
  • At 10:09 PM on 16 Jul 2007,
  • Sebastian wrote:

Now that those responsible for the manipulation of the film about the Queen have apologised unreservedly, it is now time for an unreserved apology to the Prime Minister and to his press team. We can also expect that the BBC take the appropriate action against Campbell and RDF to gain compensation for the damage done to the reputation of the BBC.

  • 187.
  • At 10:36 PM on 16 Jul 2007,
  • Dave E wrote:

Its simple.. if it didnt happen dont show it !!! its not rocket science.
Personally I couldnt care less if the story is the same or not what sticks in my throat is the fact ive been lied to & the pathetic excuses used in trying to justify it

  • 188.
  • At 10:15 AM on 17 Jul 2007,
  • Jason T wrote:

To me it is not the visual chronological order that is causing the problem here but the narrative chronology. Jamie states that it is the “same press officer” that makes the phone call prior to his being searched by the Police. If the video footage is chronologically incorrect then this assists in portraying an inaccurate view of events.

As a British person I am a very proud of the BBC and would like to see the high standards and impartiality maintained, but I must say that in this instance the BBC are wrong and should apologise accordingly.

As far as dirty tricks are concerned the educated public are aware that our Politicians are a slippery bunch with their spin Doctors and press people. But if I were a Politician, being chased by somebody acting like Dennis Pennis, then I would try to make sure they could not get access to me to try to make a fool of me in the same way as any other person would.

  • 189.
  • At 11:00 AM on 17 Jul 2007,
  • richard wrote:

This was a case of the conclusion being written before the story was filmed.
"How do we make it look like it's hard to gain access?"
"I know, dress really scruffily and don't show your press badge until you're asked to. They'll have to stop you and ask who you are"
"Turn up with a camera to an event that has a pool camera already, so we get turned away"
"Make sure we don't phone in advance to try and arrange a few words or they might say yes"
Then back at the editting suite; "You know what, it still doesn't make him look quite sinister enough".
"I've got an idea...."

  • 190.
  • At 12:18 PM on 17 Jul 2007,
  • merle wrote:

Let's not forget that other instance of less-than-impartial editing by the BBC: Guy Smith's documentary 'The Conspiracy Files: 911'. Guy Smith and this BBC-vetted mockumentary are specifically indexed ten times in Professor David Ray Griffin's lucid and exhaustive 'Debunking 911 Debunking' (Olive Branch Press, 2007). The BBC's reputation does not emerge intact from this meticulous and scientific work.

  • 191.
  • At 01:46 PM on 17 Jul 2007,
  • Onisillos Sekkides wrote:

Not only was this film perfectly acceptable, but I feel compelled to commend the quality of the film.

It may be true that there were certain preconceptions about how accessible Gordon Brown was going to be (it's nothing new after all), but this doesn't detract from what the film illustrates.

I would also like to say how disappointed I am by the apparent abuse of police resources (but that's nothing new either).

P.S. Are some of the comments above from the PM's press office? Surely not.

  • 192.
  • At 01:46 PM on 17 Jul 2007,
  • Jimbo wrote:

What annoyed me more with this addition of newsnight is the pictures used in showing the flood disaster in the north of England, a picture showing a man in a dingy rescuing a person from a car in a torrent of water, a picture actually taken from the floods in Texas. Surely this is another case of BBC deliberately editing footage to dramatise event even more

  • 193.
  • At 02:14 PM on 17 Jul 2007,
  • Roger M wrote:

Just another example of sloppy journalism and editorial control, regardless of whether it changed the meaning. Another reason to mistrust what is being shown by the BBC in my opinion. Mind you I doubt whether other broadcast organisations are anymore pure.

  • 194.
  • At 02:21 PM on 17 Jul 2007,
  • Mart wrote:

The problem is drawing the line at where "faking" is going on. We all know some faking that is commonly done by TV producers, eg sending one camera to an interview, and then after the interview refilming the interviewer asking the questions so the final cut can switch between showing the interviewee and the interviewer, without using 2 cameras.

This is fine, so long as there is no distortion, eg rephrasing the question and then showing the interviewees answer.

The BBC has already outlined the type of tricks that go on in TV world, eg for the apprentice.

Personally I can't believe that Channel 4 is having to admit that Gordon Ramsey didn't catch some fish. Whatever next? Blue Peter being hauled up for claiming "here's one I made earlier" when someone else actually made it?

  • 195.
  • At 02:40 PM on 17 Jul 2007,
  • Stewart wrote:

I have seen the film originally on Newsnight and since then it has been an interesting conversation point that I have regularly brought up these past few weeks. If anything, the film is a damning indictment on our new Prime Minister. It is a fair assessment of Gordon Brown's approachability and it clearly typifies his view of public relations as the film was carried out in a fair manner by the BBC. David Cameron's earlier film and commentary in this one is testament to that.
"Gordon Brown - More spin that a 40 degree wash".

  • 196.
  • At 03:51 PM on 17 Jul 2007,
  • D Wiseman wrote:

Open government means unsympathetic journalists (and the general public) can't get within 30 feet of our tarnished leadership (look at Blair hiding away from Peter O'Bourne).

Open governmnet comes with honesty and real representation.

Tories, Labour (Old and New, Brown and Blair) don't go in for that. Long rule the single-party police state.

  • 197.
  • At 04:08 PM on 17 Jul 2007,
  • Dave wrote:

If the sequence changes the meaning, it's wrong - so don't do it.

If the sequence doesn't change the meaning, it's pointless - so don't do it.

Changing the sequence introduces the risk of being accused of bias. Best to avoid that risk altogether.

  • 198.
  • At 04:20 PM on 17 Jul 2007,
  • Georgina Natzio wrote:

1.Having studied the footage provided it seemed clear to me that J.Campbell appeared in a more favourable light with the proper sequences reversed;

2.Impartiality, once the BBC's best claim to being a trustworthy reporter of the acualite, thus immediately undermined;

3. Jamie Campbell's hectoring voice also a beacon of non-impartiality - Serious journalism, or what?

  • 199.
  • At 04:51 PM on 17 Jul 2007,
  • DaveC wrote:

I haven't seen this particular report, so cannot comment on it directly, but the principles displayed in this blog really do give me cause for concern. If the order in which the clips were shown makes no difference to the meaning, then why not show them in the order they happened?

If the impact of the story is reduced by putting them in the correct order, then the problem is with the thrust of the story, and production "tricks" should not be used to enhance it.

I'm afraid my problem here is a pretty fundamental one ... as a long-standing supporter of the BBC through thick and thin (and a News24 junkie).

If the BBC's attitude is that showing events in the wrong order without acknowledgement is OK provided that, in their opinion, the *overall* meaning is not changed, then how am I supposed to view future reports?

I can no longer just assume that the events I am seeing reported on happened in the order and manner portrayed in them because I now know that this isn't always the case, and that the BBC's hierarchy themselves are quite happy with this.

What channel number was Sky News on again?

  • 200.
  • At 09:44 AM on 18 Jul 2007,
  • Bedd Gelert wrote:

Well, I must admit I was anticipating something with the controversy level of Tim 'Zimmers' Samuels parking of a car with a flag of St George in Scotland to entrap some hoodies.

Campbell's film was very amusing and he wasn't quite as 'jumped-up' and smug as I was expecting. That said, I think he had decided the story from the outset.

Of course, that wouldn't have worked without the co-operation [or lack of it] from Team Gordon. As for the lack of chronology - well, I think in a film like this you simply don't want to hand any ammunition to the inevitable spin backlash which will ensue.

Luckily for you the 'Queen' incident has acted as something of a lightning conductor for you, but the fact that this post is clocking up nearly as many responses as Jeremy Paxman's tie means people take accuracy in films being shown on Newsnight very seriously, and it would be wise not to play 'fast and loose' with levels of trust you have built up.

  • 201.
  • At 09:40 PM on 18 Jul 2007,
  • Paul Davies wrote:

If changing the chronology didn't affect the meaning, why was it changed? We are not that stupid. Funnily enough, this fairly minor example of BBC editorial dishonesty folllowed by a dishonest defence of it has changed my whole view of the Andrew Gilligan-David Kelly - Alistair Campbell affair. I now believe that, for the BBC, covering up their mistakes is more important than telling the truth. It's tragic, really, because so many people used to rely on the BBC's integrity.

  • 202.
  • At 11:58 AM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Geoffrey Rudd wrote:

I think that the BBC reaction to the fixing of its competitions shows just how far our social values have plummeted over the last 9 years. So it is a technical problem, is it, if presenters and production staff cheat? And this can be solved by training? You can't train someone in honesty.
It is clear that the BBC is trying to whitewash this situation with such a reaction. If this happened in my organisation both those involved and their superiors would be sacked.

  • 203.
  • At 01:05 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Philip wrote:

I thought the film on Gordon Brown was one of the weakest things Newsnight has shown. How could the editor justify such a lengthy item that was so superficial? If this is the best you can come up with then perhaps Newsnight should call it a day. I wasn't surprised to hear the film misrepresented the sequence of events, at the time I thought it looked contrived. Besides, who in their right mind is going to speak to some scruffy yob with a microphone just because he claims to be a reporter. For me this was the moment when Newsnight jumped the shark and I would be interested to hear what Paxman thought of it. Serious political journalism it was not.

  • 204.
  • At 04:00 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Bryan C wrote:

So: zero response from Mr Gibb to many of us letting him know clearly, as he requested, that the false chronological sequence in the report gave a false impression of the Treasury's behaviour. How about addressing the issues raised in the criticisms here? How about a statement of editorial values, such as a commitment not to twist video sequence chronology? How about a commitment to basic journalistic integrity?

Speaking as a viewer and an ex-BBC journalist... Newsnight, you have deceived me. Your credibility is shot. Gone. I can't see how you're going to be able to find any good reason for me now to trust anything you broadcast. I hope you feel good about that.

  • 205.
  • At 04:22 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • david wrote:

my comment is on the fine the BBC got for fixing competitions no one can tell me if the fine comes out of the licence fee we pay if so one discusted viewer.

  • 206.
  • At 09:22 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Maudrey Cumming wrote:

The buck stops at the top.
What is the matter with the BBC staff?
For years they have been insulting the British Nation by producing biased programmes, trying to sensationalise silly little happenings, putting political correct nonsensical comments on events, behaving as the government publicity unit and even trivialising the weather forecasts.
Recently the lacks of principals, integrity and honesty have come home to roost.
I am sick of hearing management’s weak excuses and blaming the underlings for mistakes or erroneous events caused by the lack of supervision and attention on their part.
A manager is paid a much higher salary than his team because he is ultimately responsible for the running of a firm or section of that company.
The BBC managers should accept that if things go wrong they should immediately resign before they are fired for making errors of judgement as they are the people who shoulder the final responsibility.
Out should go each project leader, department controller and the head of the whole corporation to make amends for making the British people the laughing stock of the world.

  • 207.
  • At 02:22 AM on 20 Jul 2007,
  • Marge S. wrote:

This is not edgy journalism and it's not gonzo journalism. It's not journalism at all. It's arrogance and ignorance with a budget and a pretty measly agenda.

  • 208.
  • At 03:30 PM on 21 Jul 2007,
  • Chas Fox wrote:

We the viewers and listeners pay a licence fee which the BBC uses to overpay staff. These staff then treat us like mugs and con viewers/listeners to waste money making expensive telephone calls. When caught out there is talk of a fine which we the viewer/listener will pay!
Heads will roll if it happens again?
Heads should roll now starting from the top!

  • 209.
  • At 05:24 PM on 21 Jul 2007,
  • Roger Inkpen wrote:

The editing of the report seems to have taken the lion’s share of comment here. Only a fool or a liar would claim this makes no difference to the perception of the viewer: it is obvious the footage and commentary have been rearranged to mislead. Why else would it have been done?

The whole point of this report appears to be to show Cameron in a good light and Brown in a bad one. I side with neither of them, but I see little point in the sort of questions ‘Dave’ answered being asked of what was then the Chancellor. I don’t expect the PM or Chancellor to be asked puerile questions. Because Cameron chose to do so makes me think neither more nor less of him.

I’m surprised no one has commented on Gordon’s press secretary and his sidekick ‘Kieran’, who looks like a YTS trainee. He is made to look out of his depth. It may be that Brown is not a social animal – we knew that already, and I don’t personally consider it a requirement for PM – but you expect his spin doctor to be a little more streetwise. He just seems rather pathetic and isn’t sure what to say even after the 2nd or 3rd meeting. What is he supposed to be doing? If he is outside while the boss is at an event, surely he could be talking to waiting reporters such as Campbell.

And surely he could have answered the email and just told Campbell to request interview like any other reporter. Going on the basis of the many non-entities Brown has appointed to his cabinet, as well as this character, I see little improvement on what Blair offered us. A strong man at the top, incapable of finding competent individuals to work with him.

What I find worrying is the heavy handed security. Is Brown’s ‘head of security’ a policeman? If not, what right has he to move a reporter in a public place? And in the anti-war demo the police were filming ‘for records’. This seemed to be designed to intimidate, even if the footage is used for nothing else. Why did Campbell not ask the police why they were doing it?

As others have pointed out, Campbell did seem overfamiliar. As well as referring to Brown as ‘Gordon’ he doesn’t make the simple request: “can I ask you a question?” I suspect he is an ex-public schoolboy so feels he should be shown deference by others, even senior politicians!

Hadn’t seen, so grateful for Newswatch for telling me, otherwise I wouldn’t have heard about if, and no 10 for making a complaint in the first place!

And do the people who write blogs expecting comments actually read the comments here?

  • 210.
  • At 12:12 AM on 22 Jul 2007,
  • Mike Hayes wrote:

So, It's been over a week now and still no reaction from Mr Gibb to the majority of comments here suggesting that he is, at best, naive or, more likely, unprofessional to suggest that changing the chronology "makes no difference" to the report. How about it Mr Gibb, are you professional enough to respond to some of these comments? How did you get to be deputy editor with such a wonky set of values? Something tells me that, if your bosses read this blog, you won't get to be editor.

I echo the excellent posts by Bryan and Anat!!

I can't believe no one's raised the issue of the DODGY DOSSIER - no, not that one! The one about the Beeb's anti-Israel bias which it refuses to divulge to the public, despite, i think, attempts to force it to do so, even through the courts (which set a precedent that it's not subject to Freedom of Info Act).

That's when I lost my trust in the Beeb, if you're interested - the trust I've lost in the wake of these phone-in scandals etc pales into insignificance. Thankfully I'm not a license-payer as I don't have a TV but I listen to the radio (a lot, depressingly) and watch news programmes on-line. Most of my comments are directed at News programming

As one blogger ( has said:

"In all of the recent focus on the BBC's problems with integrity, there has been little attention paid to the integrity of the BBC's News & Current Affairs divisions - not because of any lack of need - but because the news agenda in the UK is dominated by the BBC, and the BBC News & Current Affairs turkeys are hardly going to inform their tellytax-paying customers."

I think this is all a shameful cover-up. Where's your bit where you do your mea culpa for all this shameful bias against Israel, surely more important than your mea culpas about phone-ins etc? Particularly shameful now that all (in Parliament etc.) are recognizing a worrying rise in antisemitism to which the Beeb has contributed enormously IMO. Are you going to include in the new training you propose for your staff, training for all those responsible for producing news on Israel and its neighbours - to include all staff, going from Jeremy Bowen (who, going by that leaked memo, really, really needs some training and fast) all the way down, including the editorial team in the UK which selects what is deemed sexy since that seems to amount to a rather perverse fixation with lambasting Jews, especially the nation of? Are you going to start sending as many journos to cover those who want to make war with Israel? ALL of them and there are loads, remember. Or are you going to continue to let your staff enjoy the hospitality which Israel offers them, and really enjoy it (I hear it's the 4th largest BBC office in the world!), while giving them opportunity to trash Israel on a daily basis, in the most obscene detail.

It's a gross deriliction in your public service and I am only thankful that I don't have to pay for this, even though I have to listen to it endlessly as I can't abide adverts. It seems like an appropriate compromise in view of the sense of alienation I feel towards a cultural icon I ought otherwise to be praising in high terms.

I look forward to a change in your MO in the very near future. It's more than urgent, surely you must realize this now.


  • 212.
  • At 04:28 AM on 22 Jul 2007,
  • Cavey wrote:

Starting a sentance with "It", possibly allowable during casual conversation, can cause problems when trying to communicate with people who have no idea what 'it' is. Starting the second sentance with "It" again just ends up in 205 pointless comments. We still do not know what "It" was. Let's have a go at talking sensibly.

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