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Crisis ban? What crisis ban?

Jeremy Hillman Jeremy Hillman | 11:52 UK time, Thursday, 23 October 2008

There's an old joke about the difference between a recession and a depression. A recession is when your neighbour loses his job, a depression is when you lose yours. A depression is also what I sometimes feel when I read what some newspapers say about the BBC's reporting of the financial crisis and the language we choose to use.

Firstly, it's reported today that the BBC has banned any reference to the term "crisis". Er, no, we haven't. It's true that tomorrow we're having a day devoted to taking the temperature of the economy around the UK and how it's affecting people, which we're calling "The Downturn". But that doesn't mean we're losing our financial crisis branding when we cover further bank or financial shocks and indeed we'll be using it even tomorrow on our international coverage.

Secondly, it's suggested we're using Downturn in place of the word "recession". Luckily anyone who has watched any of our output this week will know that one's wrong too. Both the prime minister and the governor of the Bank of England have said it's likely we're heading in to a recession and we're saying that in our reports too. In fact we've been reporting the possibility of a recession for months. So, why don't we label our day tomorrow "The Recession" and be done with it? Simply because we may well be in a recession but we won't get any official confirmation of that for a while yet. A recession is two quarters of negative growth and as soon as we're in one you'll hear it from us.

The criticism we're not being gloomy enough about the economy is well balanced by other criticism we've been getting that we're talking down the economy and being too pessimistic. I suppose we should comfort ourselves that we're getting criticism both ways which must put us in about the right place. What I do know for a fact is that our audiences to our radio, TV and online coverage have all grown significantly during this financial crisis (oops, banned word!) and I'd like to thank so many of you for turning to our coverage at this very unsettling time.

Meanwhile if you have a story to tell us about how the economy is affecting you please e-mail us at:


  • Comment number 1.

    This is what happens when you editorialize extensively and intermesh opinions with the reporting of the news, you come in for criticism of your opinions from all sides. Even the way you go about reporting the news becomes an opinion. Too bad BBC didn't stick to just reporting the facts. Or did it? The way it's been run these last years, how is one to know?

  • Comment number 2.

    I always watch your BBC coverage and think all in all it is excellent.

    But: why not face it - it is a recession!

    People are fed up though to hear about it all the time. Talking of positive things on the news also is a help for people - especially in these times.

  • Comment number 3.

    can the bbc survive this financial crisis?
    with so many people now watching sky and cable is this rather large licence fair in todays market.
    shouldnt the fee be closed or reduced its just another form of taxation that is unfair on the lower paid sections of society.
    just becouse this government cant help spending why should the public have to suffer higher taxation, stealth taxation and vat on it all.

  • Comment number 4.

    i did not think that the bbc had banned the word!

    i think it is a crisis, when someone is telling a lie--about something that is not true!

  • Comment number 5.

    why was it, that the bbc called the UK govt.'s splurging half a trillion of our cash on busted banks, the "brown/darling rescue plan", whereas for US coverage it was called the "bank bailout".

  • Comment number 6.

    "But that doesn't mean we're losing our financial crisis branding when we cover further bank or financial shocks and indeed we'll be using it even tomorrow on our international coverage"

    "branding" - Sickening!

    I don't mind balanced and factual reporting but the way the media vultures disect everything and then disect it again (e.g. bank crisis) simply makes it worse. You have an ethical and moral responsibility not to perpetuate the problem.

    Some of the commentary by certain financial reporters is frankly appalling - we're talking about people's jobs, family security and pensions being adversely affected - by the hysteria that accompanies the facts.

    It's just a game for you all - so it seems to me - and hang the consequences.

    I hope you can all sleep at night.

  • Comment number 7.

    Are you sure it's necessary to report bad news second by second? I bet too this won't help people feel better. Everyone knows there is a problem/crisis whatever you call it, but going on and on constantly.

    "there is no need to refresh the page" - what's this? a football match?

    How about a section devoted to GOOD NEWS in bad times.

  • Comment number 8.


    Just so you know:

    1) we're all bored of economic and financial news now, find something else to report. Our situation is not as bad as developing countries so do your job properly and report some positive news for a change.

    2) please re-read your blog again objectively. It's full of internal BBC gobbledegook and silly editorial TV speak logic. No one cares whether you have a branding for reporting the financial crisis apart from you.

    3) I'll remind you that I pay your wages and, if your viewing figures fall because of your yawn-inducing reporting on money matters, then perhaps it's time the licence fee was abolished to force you into what viewers want, i.e. some positive reporting of events that help the nation and not hinder it.

    Thanks for listening. All the best.

  • Comment number 9.

    i was on this thread last night and there was a huge number of critical comments - all now deleted.

    a word of advice - an organisation that can't handle criticism is doomed to fail.

  • Comment number 10.

    #1 MarcusAureliusII is on the button.

    The BBC reports news as though it is a newspaper, conveniently forgetting that its consumers, regardless of the political views they may hold, are forced to pay for it and therefore have a right to expect impartiality and straight facts.

    While it continues to speculate and forecast the news and even make its own news, it will not be seen as a beacon of truth. Instead it is seen as mischievous and, by many, as biased.

  • Comment number 11.

    A recession is when you look at the price of the wine you are buying. A depression is when you start looking at the price of the toilet rolls.

  • Comment number 12.

    An awkward word to be used to describe a regularly occurring phenomenon.


    Let me get on the horn to the Economic Gods and ask them why we've never seen a recession before.


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