Monday, June 18, 2007

Media Bias

Media Bias

A BBC spokeswoman said: "This report is about looking forward and how we are going to face the challenges of impartiality in the modern world."

This should be a report to schools of journalism all over the world that ask how the schools are going to teach impartiality instead of bias.

I believe the PBS Newshour format is the best available for now. The PBS Newshour format is to bring in two people (not journalists) of opposing views on a news subject and let the two answer questions posed by the news reporter. This is an honest format if the opposing views are not affiliated to PBS.

Other formats have tried having opposing views presented by paid news staff, but the views always seem to be in support of the position taken by the people that pay them.


BBC report finds bias within corporation

By Gary Cleland
Last Updated: 1:09am BST 18/06/2007

The BBC has failed to promote proper debate on major political issues because of the inherent liberal culture of its staff, a report commissioned by the corporation has concluded.

The report claims that coverage of single-issue political causes, such as climate change and poverty, can be biased - and is particularly critical of Live 8 coverage, which it says amounted to endorsement.

It warns that celebrities must not be pandered to and allowed to hijack the BBC schedule.

After a year-long investigation the report, published today, maintains that the corporation's coverage of day-to-day politics is fair and impartial.

But it says coverage of Live 8, the 2005 anti-poverty concerts organised by rock star campaigners Bob Geldof and Bono and writer Richard Curtis, failed to properly debate the issues raised.

Instead, at a time when the corporation was renegotiating its charter with the government, it allowed itself to effectively become a promotional tool for Live 8, which was strongly supported by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

Geldof, Bono and Curtis were attempting to pressure world leaders at the G8 Summit in Gleneagles, which was taking place at the same time, to help reduce poverty in developing countries under the banner 'Make Poverty History'.

Mr Blair said the campaign was a "mighty achievement". The huge Live 8 concerts across the world were its culmination and the BBC cleared its schedules to show them, with coverage on BBC One, Two and Three and Radio One and Two.

Around the same time it also screened a specially-written episode of Curtis's popular sitcom The Vicar of Dibley that featured a minute long Make Poverty History video and saw characters urged to support it. And it aired another Curtis drama, The Girl in the Café, in which Bill Nighy falls in love with an anti-poverty campaigner - even giving Gordon Brown an advance copy.

The BBC also ran a week long Africa special featuring a series of documentaries by Geldof and a day celebrating the National Health Service, prompting Sky News political editor Adam Boulton to tell a House of Lords select committee it was in danger of peddling government propaganda.

The report concludes BBC staff must be more willing to challenge their own beliefs.

It reads: "There is a tendency to 'group think' with too many staff inhabiting a shared space and comfort zone."

A staff impartiality seminar held last year is also documented in the report, at which executives admitted they would broadcast images of the Bible being thrown away but not the Koran, in case Muslims were offended.

During the seminar a senior BBC reporter criticised the corporation for being anti-American.

The report was jointly commissioned by BBC managers and the board of governors and will be published by the BBC Trust, which has since replaced the governors.

It has been approved by a committee headed by BBC trustee and former ITN editor-in-chief Richard Tait. Other members include BBC deputy director-general Mark Byford, head of BBC News Helen Boaden and creative director Alan Yentob.

Writing in The Observer yesterday, Mr Tait said that "the BBC cannot allow its output to be taken over by campaigning groups" and added: "At the BBC impartiality is and must remain non-negotiable because it is vital to safeguard the BBC's independence."

The report offers 12 new principles for the corporation to adopt to safeguard its impartiality.

These include: "Impartiality is no excuse for insipid programming. It allows room for fair-minded, evidence-based judgements by senior journalists and documentary-makers, and for controversial, passionate and polemical arguments by contributors and writers."

A BBC spokeswoman said: "This report is about looking forward and how we are going to face the challenges of impartiality in the modern world."

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