BBC BLOGS - The Editors
« Previous | Main | Next »

Coverage of world changing events

Post categories:

Fran Unsworth Fran Unsworth | 15:50 UK time, Wednesday, 23 March 2011

It is an understatement to say it's been an extremely busy time in the newsroom and for our teams in the field over the last couple of months in the light of the series of major international stories we have been working on, including the disaster in Japan and the situation in Libya and the wider Middle East.

In my own career I find it hard to recall a period when there has been so many huge stories happening across the world at the same time. Inevitably, this has led to some discussion in the press about our newsgathering budgets being under pressure and how we cope with this.

I have made it clear that we must be able to continue to cover stories of this magnitude and that is exactly what we will keep doing. Despite the strain on the newsgathering budget the BBC has made provision through its wider budget to ensure that in coming weeks we are able to bring these critical stories back to our audiences comprehensively and rooted in eyewitness reportage.

Diary events that we know are coming up are being looked at hard - and there's no doubt that on some occasions we will need to pull back from certain things to make sure our reporting of the biggest stories doesn't suffer.

As we have always done we make tough editorial decisions and allocate our resources accordingly but the last few months have shown that at an extraordinary time we must continue to be recognised for delivering excellent coverage of these world changing events.

Fran Unsworth is the head of Newsgathering.


  • Comment number 1.

    I'm glad the BBC is stepping up to ensure the best coverage possible.

  • Comment number 2.

    Very little information, lots of vox pops is what I got.

  • Comment number 3.

    Perhaps you could save some money by not sending 407 staff to Glastonbury this year as you did last year and the year before?

    Indeed nearly 1,000 BBC staff went to the football World Cup, Wimbledon and Glastonbury in 2010.

    So sorry if I don't feel your pain.

  • Comment number 4.

    Well for a start, there is no need to place a radio reporter on a noisy street in Tokyo, Bangkok, or wherever, and make the feed more or less indecipherable due to traffic noise. It could have been recorded in London, New York, or 5 years ago for all we know. Just tell us where they are- we'll believe you. And why does John Simpson and his entourage have to be shipped to every troublespot? He's not that good, believe me.

  • Comment number 5.

    We all know that certain world events are of great interest to the public and must be well covered.

    This must not lead to a situation where other news is squeezed out. It is often stated that many, mainly political, awkward stories are put out quietly by PR departments on busy news days. Despite budget constraints, like news organisation you must ensure that important issues do not creep past you unnoticed.

  • Comment number 6.

    Fran Unsworth.

    "I have made it clear that we must be able to continue to cover stories of this magnitude and that is exactly what we will keep doing. Despite the strain on the newsgathering budget.."

    priorities. keep to your priorities, that is, the reporting.

    just one example: I remember your coverage of the earthquake in Haiti (beginning of last year); two or three days after the quake struck, suddenly, we had George Alagiah pop up and show us the aftermath of the disaster -- I mean, without a charismatic anchor person 'presenting', would we have been able to take in the magnitude of suffering??

    seriously, stop sending faces (who, of course, require their own LARGE team), make do with the 'local' journalist, and you'll be saving a lot of cash.

  • Comment number 7.

    you will get different views and news depending on where you are located and what corp delivers your news. look at Al Jazeere vs CNN. nothing in common...

  • Comment number 8.

    I've stopped reading all media coverage of events in Libya and those related to the Japanese disaster (I'd already stopped watching TV coverage). My problem with so many of them, and unfortunately I have to include the BBC, is that I often get the impression that the reports (or reporter) are unable to hide their bias regarding what they WANT to happen, rather than what is actually happening.
    Thus, rightly or wrongly, it often seems that they will be really disappointed if they don't get to report on the fall of Gadhafi's regime. Sure, there is a political discussion to had there, but the first duty is impartial reporting.

    More disturbing is the apparent enthusiasm with which potential radiation leaks from Japanese reactors is reported. This knee-jerk antipathy to nuclear power is, of course, not new. But I find it particularly unedifying in a disaster where an earthquake followed by a Tsunami has just killed thousands of Japanese and left hundreds of thousands homeless in winter. That is the real story. Remind me again, how many people died as a result of radiation leaks at Three-Mile-Island? It was zero, wasn't it. Just because some countries (such as Russia) don't design and operate nuclear reactors safely, doesn't mean that every event involving a nuclear power station justifies the media going into Jane Fonda-mode.

  • Comment number 9.

    'some discussion in the press about our newsgathering budgets being under pressure and how we cope with this.'

    As some have already suggested, getting back to reporting from endless opining and emoting might be a major step forward in saving money and the BBC's shot reputation for impartiality.

    And as for credibility as a manager of budgets.... well, post Chile one has to concede the new satire is coming on well.

    'Jon Williams was absolutely convinced that it was the right thing to do.'

    A moody reprise on the next Newswatch beckons, then.

  • Comment number 10.

    Actually Fran newsgathering could do with a big budget cut.

    It would concentrate minds on using space honestly, with integrity and neutrality, and not as if competition with your imagined opposition is all that matters. You probably do not agree that the BBC has been headed downhill for a while, and, so far as matters stand right now, my opinion counts for nothing. You still get your paycheck. It is easy to be complacent, but it makes you lazy, and when the day comes to put things right, you will not be in a position to do so.

    Look at the half truths you reported about Japan, and the ones you did not report because they went against your hidden agendas. Much the same is true about Libya. Isn't all the twittering and facebooking doing you more harm than good? Can you not return to honest journalism?

  • Comment number 11.

    5. At 20:27pm on 23rd Mar 2011, Kit Green wrote:
    We all know that certain world events are of great interest to the public and must be well covered.

    This must not lead to a situation where other news is squeezed out. It is often stated that many, mainly political, awkward stories are put out quietly by PR departments on busy news days. Despite budget constraints, like news organisation you must ensure that important issues do not creep past you unnoticed.

    Agree 100% with this. On the one hand, events of genuine gravity mean there's been less time for another permutation of 'bacon causes cancer, say experts', 'obesity is contagious' or this one, reminiscent of 'normal service' from the BBC, that claims lower life expectancies amongst mental health patients can be attributed to their nurses being too fat and setting them a bad example (yes, this really is the sort of utter rot that passes for news on the agenda-pushing Beeb these days).

    That aside, there's been worryingly little coverage of some of the more Orwellian elements of the so-called Health Responsibility Deal, such as the possibility that employers could be compelled, as part of their 'duty of care', to begin dictating what their staff are allowed to eat on work premises, removing 'unhealthy' options and even enacting sanctions against those deemed too fat or not making sufficient effort to be 'healthy'.

    No doubt this is at least in part because the BBC is broadly supportive of public health fascism, illiberal curbs on our rights of autonomy over our own bodies and the so-called 'nudge agenda', and doesn't want a public which has come out against increasing official interference in how we live our lives given the opportunity to debate the proposals.

  • Comment number 12.

    I am still perplexed why the BBC failed to report on the murder of the Israeli family, least anyone forget the father, mother and three children had their throats cut and the youngest one her head decapitated. The BBC made no mention of this outrage, instead the news only referred to some missiles being fired ( in fact over fifty) and the Israeli response to the missiles.

    This is a clear example of the BBC refusing to report news which goes against its constant narrative of Israeli aggresion and Palestinian innocence.

  • Comment number 13.

    And I'm sure Mark Thompson would have taken a cut in his expenses to help finance a coverage of these 'big stories' that found the New BBC's human response to them to be attenuated to the point of autistic. And what did Oscar say: '' the price of everything and the value of nothing''.

  • Comment number 14.

    The reporting is poor.

    An obsession on drawing emotion from victims by asking them how they feel (about the fact their house and children were just swept away in a flood). Camera focuses on crumpling face and tears, and holds....

    Also, I note the rise of the self-answering-question:
    REPORTER : "Can you tell me how unstoppable this wave is - I mean it seems to be very powerful? It is absolutely unstoppable - it seems to be washing over everything in its path."
    EXPERT: "Er - yes."

    PS: Congratulations to Steve Herrmann for not bowing to criticism about the web redesign. It's still an absolute dog's dinner - well done BBC, a triumph for the corporation over the little licence payer.

  • Comment number 15.

    The most important news isn't really information about "stuff that happens", although that's what we get (if we are lucky).

    I think many people would agree it involves the discernment of what is not always obvious:

    The underlying direction to seemingly haphazard and chaotic events.

    Progress in humanity's engagement with existential circumstance.

    The effects of reason, insight, will and action by those in a position to influence, and communication of that reasoning.

    I don't receive a great deal of this kind of news on the BBC, or in the UK in general I'm afraid. There seems a bit more of it on some continental platforms though.

  • Comment number 16.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 17.

    In regards to the coverage of the Fukushima nuclear incident - having just returned from Austria ( a country which refused nuclear power), I've been disappointed to witness that BBC's references to the dangers of radiation have included interviews with British nuclear industry spokesmen (who cannot claim to be impartial) and medical radiation specialists (Professor Wade Allison), who similarly cannot be said to be impartial.

    In particular, the article by Professor Allison cherry-picked 'facts' and figures to give a misleading impression of the devastating impact that the Chernobyl disaster had upon the surrounding populace (by surrounding I mean distance of some several hundreds of kilometers). The tone of the article by this 'expert' are totally in conflict with humanitarian and charitable organizations concerned with assisting the people who have had to survive the aftermath of the worlds biggest nuclear disaster (so far). In fact Professor Wade's references to Chernobyl are frankly disrespectful to the people that have already died and continue to suffer as a result of this disaster. His article attempts to allay the current fears of radiation in regards to Fukushima and therefore by extension, to nuclear facilities in general. In his paragraph entitled 'Over-reaction' he even berates the Japanese government - for advising children in Tokyo to avoid drinking tap water, as being too careful. Elsewhere he quotes 'the known death toll (in Chernobyl) of - 28 fatalities among emergency workers, plus 15 fatal cases of child thyroid cancer', when it has been widely recognised that the aftermath of the effects of Chernobyl have been largely covered up. In fact a document published in 2002 by the 'Chernobyl Children's Charity' estimated that 25,000 of the clean up team known as the 'liquidators', alone, had died since the incident, while incidents of just Leukemia in the Gomel district of Belarus, adjacent to Chernobyl, had increased by 50% since the disaster.

    If the BBC chooses to publish articles of this tone, it also needs to give the facility to comment below in order to bring some sort of direct parity to the argument. Or perhaps, as well as publishing an article that seems to want to dispel fears about the dangers of nuclear radiation, it would be possible to reference an article by a well known environmental commentator such as Jonathon Porrit to give a more balanced view on the values of nuclear power and the damaging radiation it can and has produced.

  • Comment number 18.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 19.

    Why does the BBC keep sending celebrity newscasters around the world to report on events and crises when there must be reporters on the ground there already who are perfectly capable of stringing words together?

    Last week, a news report on R4 subjected us to some bimbo treading carefully among the debris in Japan, telling us no more than what we had seen already on TV and, to cap it all, breathlessly scarpering the moment a siren sounded. The rescue services there must have quite enough to do without these types getting in their way.

  • Comment number 20.

    The BBC provides excellent coverage of world events - it is just unfortunate that insufficient funding is allocated to maintain this level of service - particularly given the recent job cuts at the World Service. One can only hope that these type of austerity measures won't be to the detriment of BBC in the long run.

    There are a number of comments here and on previous posts about the use of 'celebrity' reporters at world news events and I also believe this is wholly unnecessary and costly. The reporters that are already on the ground in Libya and other locations are perfectly capable of reporting on these events. Please don't waste money and then cut services that many others outside the UK rely on.

  • Comment number 21.

    I see the thread re Fukushima is now closed, even though it was one of the more active ones and the comments relevant.

    Anyone who lives within 1,000 miles of a reactor (everyone in the UK) will no doubt be very concerned about what happened at Fukushima, as a result of it losing its cooling arrangements. (The fact that this was initiated by an earthquake is not that relevant as the same could have stemmed from a plane crashing into the plant, enemy action, sabotage by a deranged worker, etc.)

    Can we please, BBC News, therefore have some facts for a change? (Not vox pops of people who end up crying on camera yet again, however understandable this might be).

    What we urgently need to know about the UK and EU plants is this:

    Do they, like Fukushima require active cooling for fuel ponds and shut-down reactors?

    If so do they have multiply redundant back-up systems to cover for all conceivable ways in which these could fail?

    Are these back-ups inspected, maintained and tested so that in the event of their being needed they spring into life as intended?

    Are the resullts of these inspections and tests transparent and in the public domain? If not why not?

    I note that since the disaster in Japan I have not heard one word of comparison, let alone reassurance re our installations on the BBC.

    I can only therefore conclude the truth might cause panic.

    Modern designs, not yet built are irrelevant. What is the state of the damned things we are stuck with for now?

  • Comment number 22.

    Fran Unsworth
    I have made it clear that we must be able to continue to cover stories of this magnitude and that is exactly what we will keep doing.

    Why bother ?

    All you appear to deliver these days is bias, spin and outright propaganda and in all honesty people may as well watch Chinese state News as the BBC has become a shadow of its former self.

    The Hutton Inquiry destroyed what little independence the BBC had left and now the entire corporation is little more than the propaganda arm for the UK government and a home for regurgitated corporate and think-tank press releases.

  • Comment number 23.

    Let me share a few thoughts on hectic around us.

    It is now a matter of historical fact, in this freedom loving freedom trying time Google is by far the best newsgathering source and the only online entity that can provide what you've designated as excellent coverage.

    As a matter of historical fact, we've never had a chance to examine such universally diverse exposure which, among other oh my, oh my innovations revelations.., by its nature creates a new form of bias, one which is not based within source, but in reader.

    Such up side down was impossible before maturity of news, or rather headlinegathering aggregate provided by Google.

    It has also become true, for the 'industry', that the headlines are more important than ever.

    Eh, allure of the headline, one of the things BBC excels in, imo that is.

    And the way we break things… and the way Google Panda assess things… well referenced, in depth analysis… all so nice,

    in these changing times.

  • Comment number 24.

    Have to agree in general with #22 - the BBC (News) has become some passive aggresive propaganda arm of the UK government. A real nagging nanny trying to make us feel guilty about everything while in turn failing to question the underlying truths in the stories reported on.

    It's not all our fault. Some of the world's ills are caused by someone other than "middle class English people". Sorry, but it's true kids - some of the worlds problems are caused by nasty people in other countries with their own power hungry agendas and no amount of analysis of what the UK/US is doing wrong is going to help.

    BBC, please, start being questioning, being critical, not accepting press releases at face value.

  • Comment number 25.

    I am delighted that this opportunity to comment on contentious issues on the Editor's blog is now available. The censors should realise that there are extremists who contribute, whom have hitherto been accepted as mainstream, and therefore whose comments are deemed acceptable. It is important that the BBC censors keep an open mind about a changing world, and the unmasking of extremist utterances from such factions.
    The awakening of the Arab world to democracy should be a stimulus to all to re-evaluate the our traditional attitudes and our foreign policy towards all non-EU conflicts, especially in the Middle East in the immediate and longer past.

  • Comment number 26.

    "Coverage of World-Changing Events" needs :
    (i) 24/7 access by those needing to comment
    (ii) constant feedback to Editors, to Ministers when critical points arise in these postings.
    This (ii) needs people with the calibre to recognise gold from base metal. Do they exist at the BBC?

    For instance:

    “Mistaken radiation readings given out by the operator of Japan’s crippled nuclear plant were “absolutely unforgivable,” the government’s chief spokesman said on Monday, as work to prevent a catastrophic meltdown faced fresh hurdles.” (Reuters, 28 March, 2011)

    Lack of information, misinformation and disinformation are constant features of media reporting and features.

    Frequently, the only *reliable* information and the only reliable professional opinion comes from those with the knowledge to KNOW and with the motivation to go 'on the record' when frustration with the 'Lack of/Mis/Disinformation' drives them to 'go public'.

    Take the above Reuters quote - why is the greatest world disaster of modern times covered by the media (and I explicitly include the BBC) in denial, reporting in 'social' terms, producing at once anodyne, simplistic, scare-inducing reports of such inadequacy it is breathtakingly, worryingly, the product of unscientifically trained minds.

    Even Richard Black has conspicuously failed to adequately address the science, the environmental impact and the wider consequences for the Pacific and beyond.

    So much need, yet so much weakness.

    One is left with the impression that the world's media have been instructed by their respective political masters to play down the impact and potential for further impact that the destroyed Japanese nuclear plants represent.

    I say - tell it LIKE IT IS, and let us passive media receivers and active media participants make their judgements LIKE ADULTS.

  • Comment number 27.

    I have had another look at your article (above). And I find it amazing.

    Apparently you are in charge of Newsgathering,
    and you are going to report on World-Changing Events.
    And you have negotiated a budget to cover it.

    If you, in charge of Newsgathering fail, *just once*, to bring to our attention World-Changing Events - whether it's because you have a budget for it or not - the one thing you should not be is Head of Newsgathering.

    Please forgive my comment above (#26), I thought you were giving us the opportunity to respond to your World-Changing Events through a new, dedicated Editors Blog site.
    I see you have no such intention.

    So, all you are saying, Fran, is "Look at me, I am going to do my job!"

  • Comment number 28.

    Got back last night from Sendai area 11:45pm after 12 hour journey and 4 days in the quake/tsunami areas. First mission to help Quake and Tsunami victims a great success. At this time it is very difficult to put into words the experience of what is happening to these people after so much destruction and devastation to property and life. I was privileged to be part of a 8 person team, to visit Ishinomaki villages destroyed by the tsunami. The images you see on the news do not begin to depict what has happened. They are a minute and narrow view of an area an people, who have lost everything including there life's.
    I have to give all credit for planning and logistics to me friend Etsuko Maeno. Her family and friends in Sendai badly needed help and it had been difficult to choose the best window of opportunity to execute the mission.
    All the supplies, fuel,water,food and the huge shopping we did to fill my car, went to the best people and places.
    It was a profound experience and the sights and people we met will be with me forever.
    I do hope you all can find someway to help these people...

    Short Timeline of Mission
    Day 1 -Saturday 26th March
    Packed my car with Kerosine/Gasoline cans and a few supplies.
    Transit to Ito to load up with further supplies and together with "Commander in Chief" visit stores and gas stations in Ito area.
    Fill car with the following:
    70 liters Gasoline (in cans) 62 liters in car tank.
    72 liters of kerosine.
    60 liters of "Spring Water"
    2 large trolley loads of assorted items, wet wipes, toothbrushes,hot packs, gas bombe (when we could get)
    Note: Too much hoarding by selfish people in this area... Every time we bought things we explained it was for Ishinomaki people. Shop people were very kind and in some cases gave us discount.
    Left Ito with very heavy car load for Sendai...distance 488km (Google route)
    Tohoku Express had just opened to normal traffic 2 days earlier.
    Transit through the traffic mess of Tokyo..of course all the lights were on and people driving around without a care four petrol shortage!
    Made stop in PA at Tochigi... was able to get gas with only small queue and top up the car tank.
    I must drive economically to maximize gas mileage. (Nissan Dualis 15km/liter gas performance)
    So kept revs below 2000 and gentle on the gas pedal. Got book mileage:)
    Highway shows some damage with bumps in many places caused by settlement.
    Arrived Sendai City center 11:30pm
    Stay Sendai at family apartment.
    Day 2 - Sunday 27th March
    Up at 6:00am...light breakfast
    Meet up with team leader (family members include me 8) and 3 vehicles.
    Have special permission to enter Ishinomaki Area. Police control access on Highway from Sendai.
    Drive past all the 3 km queues for gasoline in the early morning.
    Arrive checkpoint and issued with permit. Sendai Matsushima Road.
    Stop Yamato parking area amongst army trucks, jeeps and SDF people.
    Pick more fresh vegetables and snacks for further journey.
    Take Sanriku Expressway to Ichinoseki Highway
    Take route 30..well what's left of it by the Kitakami river. Tsunami swept up this river removing 5 metre trees and wrecked boats/houses everywhere.
    Image the scene from "Apocalypse Now" helicopters, army trucks, jeeps, rescue fire engines, construction gangs rebuilding the road that was washed away. We drove in convoy with trucks over steel plates on the makeshift road by the water's edge. Total devastation...nothing survived.
    The area south of the river is totally flooded..
    Took route 398 to Ogatsucho Kamiogatsu - route 238 along waters edge to Ogatsucho Funakoshi
    Her sisters house destroyed by Tsunami
    Check the satellite image on Google Maps...every house/hospital, building along the way is gone in villages by the waters edge!
    We stop at the road above the village, where one house has 25 people sheltering. This is the place you may have seen on the TV news footage of tsunami striking. She watched on TV from safe location her house being destroyed.
    House is wrecked and has remains of another house upper storey on it's roof.
    Salvage a few personal items.... very emotional time for everyone.
    We pick our way through other house debris to return to hill overlooking the village.
    Wave must have been 20 m high every house is gone.
    We leave gasoline, supplies with house overlooking the village.
    Visit Evac center in Junior High School and distribute more relief to victims.
    Housed in groups in classrooms.
    Visit group of 10 houses accommodating 100 people...distribute more relief supplies.
    Make way back to Ishinomaki City to visit Evac center in Kadonowaki Junior High School.
    Many people sheltering in school gymnasium. Unbelievable experience..
    Families, old people...everyone has small area of cardboard base with futon and a few belongings on chairs plus cardboard boxes of small possessions.
    Touching reunions...
    Everyone very calm and helping each other.
    We give supplies to sisters friend who lost house to tsunami in the city.
    Return to Sendai and look for place to take onsen
    All close early because no power.
    Take team dinner
    Return to apartment 11:30pm to sleep
    Day 3 - 28th March
    Please wait...I need a break:)

  • Comment number 29.

    How typical of the BBC when running the story that Judge Richard Goldstone has discredited his own report which damned Israel and accused her of "war Crimes" in Gaza which has had such a disastrous impact on the conflict and Israel's image that you should choose such a negative picture and caption to go with it and have linked all the past now erroneous stories. It seems the BBC can never just say something positive about Israel without trumping it with many more negative comments.

  • Comment number 30.

    Philanthro-capitalists are dangerous:
    Ever since I developed an interest in Bill Gates' Foundation, I've been troubled:
    The Gates Foundation has committed $264.5M to AGRA.
    Because I support chemical-free and GMO-free, sustainable agricultural practices, I'm beginning to feel uncomfortable about AGRA and a host of mega philanthropic initiatives across the developing countries.
    The Gates Foundation's sheer wealth is taking genetic modification - willfully or not -to places where to places where it otherwise may not go.
    Still, there must be some profit motive simply because Bill Gates is not a stupid man who throws around money without intention.
    The $23.1M investment by the Bill Gates Foundation in Monsanto, the world's largest producer of GM seeds, is just one example of the GM push into Africa.
    A question sits on the Gates' Foundation: How can a good benefactor invest and push such companies as Mansanto?
    What does Bill have to say about this? I would be really interested.
    AGRA us the fore-runner of GMOs; AGRA lays the ground for a conventional breeding programme - labs, agronomists, biologists and farmer seeds.
    - About 80% of the Gates Foundation's allocation to Kenya went into biotech research;
    - in 2008, about 30% of its agri-development funds went into promoting and developing GM seeds.
    It says their research programmes feed into the growth strategies of corporations (for GM production?). Delhi-based "GRAIN" sees & fears the design in the Gates Foundation's announcement of the "Borlaug Institute for South Asia in Bihar". This followed a recent visit by Bill Gates. AGRA has been created with little or no farmer participation.
    Protests are now breaking out across the continent.
    The Kenya Biodiversity Coalition - 65 civil society and farmer organisations - tried to block the import of a 40,000 tons of GM maize into India last year.
    The Casey-Lugar Global Food Security Act - a legislation that seeks to link foreign aid to GMs - is frequently cited...The newly appointed head of USAID is a former Gates Foundation employee.
    There is all this talk about a new GM-led green revolution despite the ravages of the previous green revolution techniques, which were founded on similar principles, in India. In the Punjab, Haryana and western UP belt, soils were degraded; yields as well as groundwater levels declined, and there resulted socio-economic poverty - and sadly suidcides.
    This sort of thing is growing non-stop despite numerous studies indicating that GM crops are risky. A few years ago, the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) - involved 900 experts from 110 countries - concluded GM crops are a poor solution to the world's food security problems and need much further study.
    In public health, other than the US Government itself, there is no donor as influential as the Gates Foundation. It has emerged as the second largest donor to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
    Speaking to the media in Bangalore this week, Warren Buffett, who has committed most of his $50B wealth to the Gates Foundation, admitted it takes a long time to see the full results of philanthropic work, but he failed to say that the results can be horrendous.
    In my opinion, the concentration of power in the hands of new philanthro-capitalists is alarming. Some time ago, the head of WHO's malaria research revealed that the increasing dominance of the Gates Foundation was stifling diversity among scientists and that it was seriously impeding the policy-making function of the world body. The foundation's decision-making process was becoming a closed, internal process, accountable to none other than itself.
    More recently, in January 2011, the Peoples Health Movement, a grassroots campaign for health for all, wrote to members of the WHO's executive board, calling attention to a number of issues; this exclusicivity was just one. WHO's recent over-reliance on medicines, diagnostics and other technological fixes is being criticised. The greater importance, for example, should be placed on clean water, non-modified food, and effective sanitation.
    However, a humungous push on vaccines is underway. The Gates Foundation, for example, has allocated $10 billion to this field and describes this as the decade of vaccines. One such mechanism is the Advance Market Commitments (AMC), inspired and supported by the Gates Foundation. The AMC seeks to provide pharma companies, provided they agree to develop and supply vaccines to developing countries, a deep, DEEP discount.
    The pilot AMC of $1.5B, funded by the Gates Foundation for pneumococcal diseases, which kills almost a million children annually, pays $3.50 per dose to the companies involved (GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer-Wyeth, among others). Recipient countries make a small co-payment. However, instead of developing new vaccines, the AMC brought in vaccines already developed by big pharma, for which costs had been recovered substantially from sales in western markets.
    The Gates influence on global institutions and mechanisms in healthcare are quite evident, which demonstrates that the situation does not stop with genetically-modified foods.
    Philanthro-capitalists are a dangerous breed.

  • Comment number 31.

    First, I would like to thank Tim Wilcox, in particular, for his latest report about Misrata, where we are, indeed, in the first stages of a genocide.

    A genocide is not defined by the number of victims, but by the purpose: to exterminate a Genus, a type or variety of human -- in this case, the variety that seeks to assert the inalienable rights of Libyans to hold free elections and end the despotic regime that M Khadafy has set up for his own private benefit.

    There is a genocide under way in Misrata and for some incomprehensible reason Nato is providing more cover for Khadafy than the so-called 'rebels' -- the genocide in Misrata continues unabated while everyone stands by watching, assuming Nato to be doing something about it when in fact Nato is not.

    We have watched the Coalition bombardment before "Nato" -- with Turkey, Germany and Romania involved -- 'took over.' The Coalition was effective -- Nato has not been. I do not doubt that Turkey's and Germany's reluctance to help remove Khadafy by force have had a dampening effect on the efforts. As for Romania, one would imagine, given their experience with Ceausescus, they would be amongst the most aggressively pro-'rebel' Nato members. Instead, every their spokesperson says something, I hear Doublespeak and obfuscation -- almost as if it were Rogozhin, Putin's man, and not a proper Nato spokesperson speaking.

    What I would like to call your attention to is that you at BBC have also taken a not so subtle pro-Khadafy slant. You are constantly running, in lead position, John Simpson's untenable report about "Khadafy holding on" -- which is patently absurd. How can that be called a report? We are not even three full weeks into the action; barely 30% of the tyrant's arsenal has been degraded (at this tepid pace, it will take "Nato" at least a year to eliminate Khadafy's firepower) and yet Mr Simpson has already pronounced his verdict: after 42 years of mayhem on the global scene, with a vast majority of his population against him, Khadafy -- who must be some invincible bionic man -- will somehow 'hang on.'

    Come on, BBC, that really strains credulity.

    At this rate, it may be a process, because some are rushing to make excuses for the Stalinist dictator, but it is not going to end with him sitting in Tripoli leading anyone. And you at the BBC should not be advancing such a silly idea -- it is not only a direct challenge to the stated position of the UN, your own government, the EU, Nato, every decent person on earth -- it is, effectively, giving comfort to the Khadafy family, who are reading all kinds of possibilities into your ambivalent reports and assuming they have any kind of chance.

    So in that sense you are making it seem that everyone else's position is weak -- that there is any kind of chance for Khadafy to stare down the entire armed world (Russia and China are obviously not riding to his rescue) -- ergo the atrocities in Misrata continue.

    Infinitesimally, perhaps, but by extending the fiction that Khadafy has a chance you are also helping prolong the suffering of the people in Misrata.

    I would like to ask why Mr Simpson does not simply in one of his reports say something of this sort: "The Tripoli strongman, who has never stood a candidate in any election, who has not held an election, who will not hold an election, and who would fairly certainly lose any election that would be held today, refuses to see the writing on the wall and accept that his days are numbered."

    Because that is an absolutely 100% factual statement, and an even-handed one. And yet it is not the kind of statement we are hearing from Mr John Simpson, reporting from Tripoli for the BBC...

    So do your bit for humankind and step it up a bit. Stop referring to the people terrorising Misrata as any kind of 'government' forces. Stop referring to the liberation forces as 'rebels.'

    It is time to give Libyans a free, transparent, open election.

    End of story.


  • Comment number 33.


  • Comment number 34.

    #1 .... please read #22 .....

  • Comment number 35.

    Sometimes in the pusuit of big stories, smaller stories need not be ignored, though small they may be, the significance of those stories can be significant. Look at what happened in middle east. It all started with a small story of some vegetable seller immolating himself in some remote corner of Tunisia.

  • Comment number 36.

    I would like to take this opportunity to wish Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, a Happy Birthday! I know that this is a day late. I meant to write it yesterday but, forgot.

    I wish Her Majesty another 85 years!


  • Comment number 37.

    On March 11 at 14.46 JST, the earth shook about 81 miles east of Japan's Oshika Peninsula of Tohoku near Sendai, its hypocenter about a 20 mile depth. It triggered a 33-foot high tsunami in minutes.
    Main concern: four or more nuclear reactors at Tokyo Electric's (TEPCO) Fukushima Daiichi plant.
    Affect: the entire Pacific rim and Northern Hemisphere.
    Plutonium traces in soil..Perhaps nothing can contain this disaster, threatening to make northern Japan a dead zone.
    From indications it appears that the core has melted through the bottom of the pressure vessel in unit two. Water is being detected outside the containment area; the water is highly radioactive. It must be coming from the reactor core.
    •spreading across the entire Northern Hemisphere, especially over wide parts of Japan;
    •causing permanent contamination; and
    •potentially killing millions from future cancers.
    Fukushima is dwarfing Chernobyl.
    Tentative solution: "detonating) a 10 kiloton fission device inside each reactor containment vessel in desperate hope to vaporize the cores.
    Nuclear core meltdowns are otherwise self-sustaining.
    Seawater only 300 yards from the site contained iodine-131 at 3,355 times the safety standard. Each day, they're rising and spreading.
    Yet Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency's (NISA) Hidehiko Nishiyama claims public health isn't threatened. What? This needs to be explained to me.
    Smoke was seen rising from a second (TEPCO Daini nuclear plant) about six miles south of" Daiichi. As expected, NISA and TEPCO have downplayed it.
    Cover Up and Denial - the "C" and "D" of a modern, potentially horrendous alphabet!
    Despite spreading contamination to America, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stopped measuring radiation levels in eight of its 18 monitoring stations, including California, Oregon and Washington.
    Because readings were getting too high.
    In addition, Obama's EPA may substantially increase allowable radiation amounts called safe in food, water and the environment. Well, I suppose this is one solution.
    Five Types of Human Activity Causing Quakes
    (1) Damn construction
    e.g. Hoover Dam, peak of 475 feet in 1939, the level of seismicity has fluctuated in direct response to water level. None of the shocks have been particularly damaging. China has Three Gorges Dam , the world's largest, holding back 1.4 trillion cubic feet. In 1967, western India's Koyna Dam may have caused a 7.0 magnitude quake. If so, damns in seismically sensitive areas may be a disaster waiting to happen.
    (2) Liquid injection into the ground
    e.g. I

  • Comment number 38.

    Almost every day now, our news headlines are dominated by world events far away. Unrest in the Middle East, Libya and Afghanistan is again suppressing much of the news in the UK and, even here, Northern Ireland - yet again - is grabbing the BBC's attention. I am very fortunate to hear about news in England apart, that is, from yet more tedious debate about AV.

    I'm not at all interested in the problems of other countries, many of which undergo periods of unrest like the changing seasons; the impression I'm left with is of nations seeking, and getting with the BBC's help, more attention than they deserve. It does leave me wondering about the ethnic background of the News programme makers.

    I'm more interested in knowing what's going on in England, and with its immediate neighbours; yes, I can catch regional news bulletins, but they only cover my part of the country. What's happening in the rest of the UK is often a closed book to anyone watching/listening to the major bulletins.

    If the BBC has become so besotted with news abroad, to the detriment of what's occurring on its doorstep, maybe it's time to split its programmes into ones for people who have an overseas interest, and ones for the likes of me who really couldn't care less what others are doing elsewhere.

  • Comment number 39.

    i bet they will be monie's found for coverage of certain betrothels and games of all varied kinds?also daves attire at the coming event will be closely for the effects of the slashing inhumane policys of dave and his gang,they will be swept under the carpet of"who gives a toss"..

  • Comment number 40.

    Doesn't look like you're going to be getting much rest for a while Fran - BBC's coverage of world changing events has been quite excellent, and hopefully it continues through with the current Osama bin Laden story along with the likely conspiracy theories that it no doubt will bring.

    Actually, given the public reaction to the news, in the US at least it appears to be positive news, following on well from the Royal Wedding last week.

  • Comment number 41.

    Oh just do it, do break each and every rule in your rulebook whilst reporting the demise of public enemy Usama Tim Osman. You and your bogus guidelines… & do take care not to open discussion about it, unless it's on twitter.

    Tell you what, as we explore wabbit hole as a whole, some may find it funny, this out of the touch with reality reality which is bound to cause different, inconceivable yet entangled actualities.

    If we'd be on fringe, we'd surly experience rapture.

    good luck with it,

  • Comment number 42.

    Your coverage sometimes verges on propaganda-style repitition.
    We don't need the same item or headline repeated three or more times
    within a 30 minute news broadcast.

    e.g. the 30 minute, seven times repeated, news about the death of Ben Ladin.
    Also the week before the 30 minutes of royal wedding coverage taking up the whole 30 minute news slot.

    I assume nothing else newsworthy happened on these days.

  • Comment number 43.

    Christians are being attacked by Muslim mobs in Cairo. A church and a Christian owned apartment block has been set on fire. Up to 12 Christians have so far been killed. The Egyptian army failed to step in to protect Christians. This is front page news on the ITN website but I can find no mention of this on the BBC site. Why is this ?

  • Comment number 44.

    Perhaps this will help you :
    ..Religious tension mounts to fatal clashes in Cairo

    ITN – Mon, May 9, 2011
    EmailPrint......Related Content.
    Play Video.Fresh clashes in Cairo
    0:57 | 74 views

    Enlarge Photo.Religious tension mounts to fatal clashes in Cairo
    ....Hundreds of Christians and Muslims clashed in downtown Cairo on Sunday, hours after mobs set fire to a church and a Christian-owned apartment building in a frenzy of violence that killed up to 12 people and injured more than 200.

    In the latest violence, youths attacked a large crowd of Coptic Christian protesters marching from the headquarters of Egypt's general prosecutor to the state television building overlooking the Nile, according to a Christian activist.

    Scores were injured, but an army unit securing the TV building did nothing to stop the violence, the activist said.

    Hours earlier, mobs of ultra-conservative Muslims had attacked the Virgin Mary Church in the poor district of Imbaba on the opposite side of the Nile.

    The attack was fuelled by rumours that a Christian woman married to a Muslim man had been abducted by the church.

    Residents said a separate mob of youths armed with knives and machetes attacked an apartment building several blocks away with firebombs.

    Victims of the violence were mourned at a funeral service in the Coptic church of St George, also known as Church of St Mary Gerges, late on Sunday.

    During the 18-day uprising that ousted President Mubarak, there was a rare spirit of brotherhood between Muslims and Christians.

    Each group protected the other during prayer sessions in Cairo's Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the revolution.

    But in the months following, there has been a sharp rise in sectarian tensions, fuelled in part by a movement of ultra-conservative Muslims known as Salafis, whose increasing hostility toward Egypt's Coptic Christians over the past few months has met little interference from the country's military rulers.

  • Comment number 45.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.