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Radio 4 and Naomi Campbell's blood diamonds testimony

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Roger Bolton Roger Bolton 13:55, Friday, 13 August 2010

Troops loyal to Charles Taylor, Sierra Leone

"Why did this trial only appear on the BBC's News radar when there was a celebrity event to cover?" - Julie Smith.

"The BBC seems to be becoming like the tabloid newspapers, caught up in the cult of celebrity" - Cynthia Wells.

"The message is loud and clear that it is important because famous people are involved" - Silas Sutcliffe.

Not many of us knew that Charles Taylor, the former dictator of Liberia, was almost three years into his trial at the Hague, facing 11 separate charges of war crimes. Until, that is, a certain supermodel gave evidence in front of the cameras, to be followed by a former Hollywood star and civil rights campaigner.

The Feedback listeners quoted above, like several others of our correspondents, wondered if BBC news editors think the public is more interested in the supermodel Naomi Campbell, and the actress, Mia Farrow, than in the genocide.

As Don Benson wrote: "As far as I know Miss Campbell is famous for wearing clothes. Beyond that any talents and achievements which might possibly make her important escape me."

The court did establish that Ms Campbell had received stones of some sort, but their size and the name of their donor is still not clear. Neither is the reason that they were given to Naomi Campbell.

While none of our listeners disputed the importance of covering the trial itself, dealing as it is with the most appalling crimes of genocide, rape and disfigurement, they do question the way it has been covered, and fear it reflects a growing obsession with celebrity.

I put listeners' concerns to the Editor of the BBC Radio Newsroom, Richard Clark.

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Also this week I talked to Mark Wakefield, head of performance at the BBC Trust who is in charge of the reviews into Radio3, Radio4, and radio 7. You have just 2 weeks left to take part in the consultation, which ends on 26th August. If you want to take part either head for the Trust's website or to that of Feedback itself where you will find a link. If you require a hard copy of the consultation document or a Braille one the number to call is 08000680116.

See you next week.

Roger Bolton presents Feedback on BBC Radio 4

  • Listen again to the whole programme, get in touch with Feedback, find out how to join the listener panel or subscribe to the podcast on the Feedback web page.
  • The picture shows soldiers loyal to Charles Taylor during the civil war in Liberia. It's from the BBC's picture library.

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