Scrutiny over words used to report riots
- 11 August 2011
- From the section Entertainment & Arts
This round-up of today's main media stories focuses on complaints about the use of language in BBC coverage of the riots.
What's in a name? The riots have shown how sensitive the media - and particularly the BBC - have to be in their use of language. After complaints to BBC programmes from residents of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, the Corporation has stopped referring to "UK riots", and is calling them "England riots". A BBC spokesman tells the Daily Telegraph: "We have listened to feedback from our audiences and are now referring to 'England riots' in our on-going coverage for absolute clarity."
The BBC was also criticised for calling the looters "protesters". Fran Unsworth, BBC News head of newsgathering, told Radio 4's Media Show it had been wrong to do so. She said she thought "it was probably okay on Saturday when the whole incident was started off by this peaceful protest against the killing of Mark Duggan in Tottenham" but conceded "since then, no, I don't think that we should have been using the term 'protesters'."
The Guardian adds that Ms Unsworth said the BBC had received 62 complaints from viewers on the language issue. The paper continue that she pointed out that 54 of those came after it was highlighted in the Daily Telegraph in a leader which claimed the BBC "stupidly insisted" on calling the rioters "protesters".
Meanwhile Mary Hockaday, the head of the BBC multimedia newsroom, rebutted the claim in the BBC's editors' blog saying "none of our audiences to any platform can have been left in any doubt that we have been reporting riots and looting."
News Corporation has seen its quarterly profits fall 22% on the back of losses caused by the sale of the MySpace social networking website, reports BBC News. It says the company, whose UK subsidiary News International has been rocked by the phone hacking scandal, made £423m net profit in the three months to 30 June.
The Guardian says the News Corp financial results are strong, despite the loss on MySpace, with TV income beating analysts' estimates. But it says the company cannot escape the fallout from the phone hacking affair. It reports: "Rupert Murdoch pledged to do 'whatever is necessary' to prevent a repeat of the phone-hacking scandal that led to the closure of his News of the World newspaper, thrown his succession plans into chaos and left his company facing decades of legal woes."
The Daily Telegraph reports that the BBC "has failed to see the funny side" of a spoof BBC website which claimed Gordon Brown had an affair with Ann Widdecombe. It reports "The news-bbc.net address took web users to a page which looked almost exactly the same as the bbc.co.uk/news site. It also linked to genuine BBC stories." The paper says the site was created in 2009 and is registered to Andrew Firth of York, who has now taken it down, saying: 'It was only a joke".
The fallout from the four nights of rioting which hit cities in England is digested in the day's newspapers, as reported in the BBC's papers review.