27/01/2012 Newswatch


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More from us in 15 minutes, now it is time for news watch. Our viewers


receiving a full picture of what is really happening in Syria? -- our


Up welcome. Despite recent proposals by a mission from the


Arab League, there seems no imminent end to the turmoil in


Syria. Since anti-government protests started last March, more


than 5,000 civilians have been killed by security forces according


to the UN. But throughout this crisis, the precise truth of what


is going on has been hard to get out. For the Syrian army is all


They will probably shoot if they spot us.


For most of the past 10 months, the only way to Western media


organisations have been able to report from Syria was illegally.


These elite -- BBC journalists went into the country under cover to


file their reports. Inevitably that has led to viewers getting on --


only a partial view of events, The Assad regime does not like


unexpected visitors. We went in on a government trip. Over the past


couple of weeks, correspondents have been allowed into Syria, if


not perhaps welcome with open arms. One senior observer feels before


this reason coverage there's been a lack of balance. I think there has


been a change and Jeremy Bowen has really done an excellent job.


Before that happened if it wasn't so good. There has been a thing


about projecting this thing as the regime against the people. That


undermines the fact there are people who support the regime and a


lot of people... It is not simply non-violent protest Kenny Morgans


the regime. There is an armed uprising. When it is just reported


as protest and people talk about the violent clampdown, that has


been simplified a bit. The reason filming trips by the likes of


Jeremy Bowen have faced strict limitations on where and how


filming can take place. But the Syrian authorities have not been


happy with what they have seen on air, accusing the BBC of inciting


sectarianism and fabricating stories. Some viewers still accuse


And the challenges to journalism are many and clear, but are we


getting any closer to a complete and accurate picture of who is


doing what to whom in Syria? With me is the BBC's World news editor.


The likes of Jeremy Bowen have been in Syria this week, but how


difficult is it a report under such circumstances? Und there


limitations and isn't it almost like a straitjacket? It is not a


straitjacket. Let me start by saying I agree with Jonathan Steele


that things have not been as good as we have wanted them to be


because until Jeremy and Tim have been allowed in, it has been


difficult to operate. We would have liked more access and now we are


there, we do operate under some restrictions about where we can go,


but just this week, Jeremy has been to one area of Damascus, a rebel-


held area. We have also been in district 86, an area loyal to


President Assad precisely to address the point Jonathan makes


about hearing from all sides in this complex story. I know there


are always safety concerns and so they should be, but could you have


done more to get more people earlier on the ground? Risks


sometimes pay off with wonderful exclusives. Her I'm delighted Paul


Wood took a huge risk to going before Christmas and report from


Homs, the first British TV journalist to in bed with the free


Syrian army. You could have done more? A don't believe we could. We


are talking about people's lives. The United Nations have said 5,000


people have been killed in Syria. You don't deploy people into


somewhere like Syria likely. We have done all we can to make sure


we provide a rounded picture of what is going on in Syria, but as I


say, we take some responsibility for ensuring the reporting of this,


but I also believe the Syrian authorities need to take some


responsibility to allow journalists to get in and report in a free and


balanced way. One thing totally under your control is the use of


language and viewers have said the BBC should not be calling this a


regime. I mentioned it was a regime, too. Should the correct terminology


be government for now because it is a political government under


international law? Broadly I agree with that point that short cuts and


slang and language like that probably is not helpful, but we


should be clear that the dictionary definition of a regime is an


authoritarian government and there is no question... The Syrian


government is authoritarian, only the Ba'ath party can hold power,


only one candidate can stand for President, the candidate of the


Ba'ath party, so when the election took place in 2007, the only


candidate was President Assad. In Arabic, the term that the


government used for the government in Syria translates as regime. I am


pretty relaxed, actually, about calling it a regime. Thank you.


For for much of last year, broadcasters were also concerned


with the difficulties of reporting from Libya. Violence has been


continuing there and last Friday Gabriel Gate House attended the


funeral of a brigade commander who had been tortured and killed by


rivals -- rival militia. The body has become a focal point for anger


in this town. In public, the people here say they are fully behind the


revolution. They have no loyalty to the old regime, although in private


some will tell you things were better before. Whatever the truth


of the matter, there is now growing tension between here and the next


town and besides are still armed. That piece to camera prompted


viewer might call to write to us. - We put that point to BBC News and


Elsewhere this week, there were objections to this interview on


Tuesday's Newsnight with Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond.


say that an independent Scotland would be a beacon of


progressiveness. I think I recalled Robert Mugabe saying something


similar about Zimbabwe. I don't think, Jeremy, you do yourself any


great favours by comparing Scotland to Zimbabwe. I am comparing you to


Mugabe. Or myself or any other Scottish politician to Robert


Mugabe. Jeremy Paxman certainly did not do himself any favours as far


as Derick Thomson was concerned. -- It has been a busy week for the


chairman of the BBC Trust, Lord Patten. It started on Monday with a


newspaper interview in which he said plans were under way to find a


successor for the Director General Mark Thompson. Although the latter


has not announced if or when he will leave the job. Later that day


the two of them arrived at the Leveson Inquiry whether Chen said


he thought politicians had demeaned themselves by getting too close to


newspaper proprietors. On Wednesday he said he had asked BBC management


for rethink on plans to cut local radio and on the regional TV


current affairs programme Inside Out. That would have gone down well


with members of the public like The problem is that the BBC Trust


now wants management to restore �10 million of the cuts it was going to


make to local TV and radio and find other ways of making me their


savings. But how? Viewers have their thoughts. One of them


prompted by this live appearance of the Local Government correspondent.


Good morning. Councils across England are setting their budgets


over the next few weeks. At the moment we are hearing about


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