16/11/2012 Newswatch


16/11/2012

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It is now time for Newswatch. This week, your reactions to the crisis

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Well come to Newswatch with me, Samira Ahmed. The biggest crisis

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facing BBC News in a decade, how did it happen? Can the

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corporation's journalism still be trusted? Does George Entwistle

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deserve his pay-off? And has it all The BBC marked 90 years of

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broadcasting this week, but there was not much of a celebratory air

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around. The crisis started by a Newsnight report on care homes in

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Wales which led to Lord McAlpine being wrongly implicated in child

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abuse allegations came to a head on Saturday night. A new crisis for

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Newsnight. Tonight this programme apologises. A key allegation in a

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report about child abuse was wrong. The victims says he was mistaken.

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The wholly exceptional advance of the past few weeks have led me to

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conclude that the BBC should appoint a new leader. I have a job

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to do, get a grip of the situation. The BBC deserves strong leadership,

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that is what I want to bring. course they should have called me,

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and I would have told them exactly what they learned later on. What

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was that? That it was complete rubbish.

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As a result of George Entwistle's resignation, the acting director-

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general of his Tim Davie, and because of others stepping aside

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pending inquiries, BBC news now also has an acting director, and

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acting deputy director, and acting head of news-gathering, and acting

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editors of Newsnight and of the Today programme. Clearly, or

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reorganisation to be done there, but where should the BBC go from

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here? Newswatch dealers have not We asked for an interview with a

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BBC News executive but were told no-one was available. We can

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discuss what viewers think about the events of the past week, and we

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are joined by Terry Berry, who spoke to us about the Jimmy Savile

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scandal, and Alex Giles. In Birmingham is Georgio Mystkowski,

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and joining us from Salford is June Bennett. Terry Berry, what has been

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your concern watching events unfold? I think it has been the

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lack of clarity from management, the higher management, would regard

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to... It seems to me that people are standing aside, while

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investigations are going on. However, it was quite disturbing to

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see George Entwistle given his notice after such a short time.

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do not see a connection between who seems to have gone and be

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responsible. Exactly, but from George Entwistle's point of view,

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nobody gave him a head start that was so something so serious about

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the programme that was going up. Somebody could have made the phone

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call to say, look, this is what is coming your way. Although he admits

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he did not look at this or that programme or read the newspapers,

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surely somebody could have said, there is something going on here,

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it needs to come across your desk. Where were the management? You have

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a different concern, June, what was your view about the way the story

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was covered? I think there was far too much attention being paid to

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the difficulties at the BBC, who had mentioned somebody's name, and

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the children were not considered. I mean, I was amazed that it was

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aired on one programme, saying that Steve Messham was not a reliable

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witness. I could not believe that anybody could pile that on top of

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what he has lived through through all his life. So is there a bigger

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concern that because of the attention being paid to BBC

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managers resigning that the focus shifted off children who have been

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abused? Yes, without a doubt. We have heard names, and we did see on

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television people who had come forward, and they have come forward,

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and you can see the anguish with which they felt, and these children

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have spent all their lives feeling unclean, used, having nowhere to go,

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and all of a sudden they could see a window, a window where perhaps

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they could perhaps express how they felt throughout their lives up to

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that point. They had been physically abused, but also

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mentally abused, and to me they were the people who we should be

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focusing on. The whole issue that we heard earlier, it did lead the

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director-general to resign. You think that was the right thing to

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do? Is the BBC moving on? Yes, I do. I would agree with everything the

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previous speakers have said. My concern was particularly upon the

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BBC and the trustees' understanding of the word honourable. On Saturday

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night, the former director-general came on television with the

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chairman, Mr Patten, stood behind him, and he made a statement that

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he was resigning as editor in chief because it was the honourable thing.

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I think the majority of people around the country would say, is it

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really honourable for somebody to take one year's salary after 54

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days when he should have been sacked? I just want the BBC to use

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those words, like honour, integrity, all those key words, I want them to

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use them so carefully, so that the viewers and the public start

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believing again and start getting their commitment back to what the

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BBC. Thank you. Alex, one of the practical effect of all this

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decision-making, honourable or otherwise, is that Newsnight is not

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allowed to make any investigative reports at the moment. What is your

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feeling about that? I think they have been making a real meal of it,

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frankly, and I think George Entwistle has got an expectation

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and a right to expect his editors and his managers to be doing their

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job. I notice that David Dimbleby said the director-general should

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fight like a tiger for this organisation. There has not been

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enough fighting? These are two programmes, ironically, one which

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was maybe too wary, they sat on the story, they were too concerned

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about who they were going to upset, and the other story more recently,

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they jumped the gun, before they properly check the stories. Stuff

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like that happens in journalism, surely, all the time, and what we

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are seeing now is it being blown out of all proportion. I am not for

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one moment saying that this identifying someone as a child

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abuser or not listening to these children is not a serious matter,

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but I do think there is a huge amount of news that is going out

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from the BBC which is fantastic, and so much time is being wasted,

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you know, with his inviting being played out in front of the viewers.

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June, in a sentence, what would you like to see the BBC do now to win

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back on confidence and trust? have not lost my confidence or my

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trust. What I would like them to do is to try and work with agencies to

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try and help these children, to try and help them move forward in their

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lives, and to feel as if we are not letting them down. OK. The final

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thing I would say is we all need to say to ourselves, if this was my

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child, how would I feel? The same question to you, in a sentence.

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What has been said is absolutely right that when it comes to abuse

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of children, all too often the reporting is very salacious, it is

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very focused on the abuser and the acts. It rarely focuses on the

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carriage and the bravery of the young person in these instances,

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but if we think about the young people who have the courage to

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speak up, let's give them airtime which would encourage other young

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people to speak up as well. Terry, again, briefly. I agree with what

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has been said, but what troubles me is the clarity and getting to the

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checks and balances that are in place, the structure, the

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management processes, which allowed this to happen. It seems as though

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people have stood aside, to use that word again, without coming

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forward, and now it looks like the people are consulting lawyers about

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statements, what they are going to say. They are afraid to come out

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with a possible truth, what has happened, and that is where they

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are something dark and sinister going on. So you need clarity on

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the way that management is handling things. I would like to see them

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get along with serving the public. It is such a great organisation

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that we are all very proud of. will have to leave it there, but

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all of you, thank you very much for While the reverberations of all

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that will carry on for some time, you have had plenty to say about

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other issues this week, too. One complaint focused on the practice

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we discussed last week with regard to the US election of presenters

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being sent on location to cover big Finally, this week saw the first

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elections for Police and Crime Commissioners in England and Wales

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with a mostly very low voter turnout, and we had some differing

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Thank you for all your comments this week, positive and negative.

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If you want to share your opinions on BBC news and current affairs, or

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