BBCi BBC News BBC Sport BBC World Service BBC Weather A-Z Index
BBC World Service | Inside BBC Journalism | Independence
    Home | Impartiality | Accuracy | Fairness | Respect | Independence
  The BBCs journalism: Nigel Chapman
  Reporting on business: Peter Day
  Product placement in F1: Jonathan Legard
  Audience trust in Afghanistan: Zahir Tanin
  Alistair Cookes view: Nick Clarke
  Drama in Africa: Fiona Ledger
  Arts in the UK: Nick Rankin
  Referral procedures
  The law and legal risks
Zahir Tanin

Audiences must be able to trust the integrity of BBC programmes.

They should be confident that decisions are made only for good editorial reasons, not as a result of improper pressure, be it political, commercial or special interest.

Audience trust in Afghanistan - by Zahir Tanin, Editor, Afghanistan & Central Asia, Persian Service

The BBC's unique position among the Afghans has many reasons: it has been broadcasting for 63 years in Persian and 23 in Pashto, and, in the absence of a strong and effective national media, the BBC is seen as a comprehensive, open-minded, fair and well-informed news provider.

Just one statistic: over 80% of Kabulis listen to the BBC.

Civil order

Afghanistan began its slow move towards civil order over a year ago. The relative press freedom that came with it led to the gradual emergence of international and local broadcasting media.

This new competitive field presented the BBC with editorial, production and distribution challenges.

Better means of reaching people and a reliable network of newsgathering staff was needed to report not the gun battles but the battle of ideas and the intricacies of the post conflict situation.

Now we have better MW and are available on FM in Kabul and Mazar and soon will be in other cities.

The BBC had only one reporter in Kabul. Now we have over 20 reporters and production staff for the Persian and Pashto service.

Maintaining audience trust

The main challenge however remains editorial: how to maintain the audience's trust while providing in-depth analysis that helps it make sense of events and changes.

This issue manifests itself when reporting about the warlords. Afghan warlords are a special phenomena. While they claim to represent the government in their own areas, they are not completely under its control.

Reporting religious opinion or Fatwa by anti-government and anti-US forces advocating violence is always problematic.

Early this year, the former PM and now fugitive warlord, Gulbudin Hekmatyar, sent us a video-tape, in which he was calling for Jihad against the Americans. We reported its content as a news story, providing a clip of his voice.

The reaction from the pro-government elements was that we were promoting terrorists.

This is just one of the many dilemmas we face.

^^ Back to top << Back to Home