19/04/2013 Newswatch


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but now it is time for News watch this week panorama's controversial


It has been a tempestuous six months for BBC News. So how is it


moving on? Last weekend, it emerged that BBC One's Panorama had been


filming inside North Korea. How they got to do so became the


subject of great controversy, with calls for the programme to be


pulled from the schedules. But on Monday, it went out as planned.


With tensions escalating, Panorama spends eight days under cover


inside the most rigidly controlled nation on earth. So, welcome to the


real North Korea. Hundreds of viewers were concerned about the


way in which the reporter, John Sweeney, and his team, used a trip


by a group of London School of Economics students as a cover for


the secret filming. I am joined by the BBC's acting director of news.


What was your main concern about the treatment of the students, as a


viewer? As a teacher, I am concerned about the way students of


any age are treated. It seems to me, there is a kind of double standard.


We are being told that these students are grown-ups and adult,


but on the other hand, they seem to have been treated like children,


because they were not given remain information, they were told there


was one journalists, but there were two. They were not asked to sign


anything. Apparently there was a meeting in a pub. This is not the


way to treat adults. There were those among them who were happy


with what went on. But even if there are one or two, that is


enough for concern, I would say. But I do not think their reaction


is a justification. When you saw the programme, though, did you feel


that what came out of the undercover investigation was


justified? Actually, we were not told much about North Korea which


we did not know. Before, I might well have said yes, show it,


because we have risked people's lives making it, but having watched


it, I would say no. This was a balance between an undercover


operation, to enable the trip to take place, to be balanced against


the safety of the team. Now, actually, I do not agree, apart


from the fact that actually, all the students were over the age of


21, apart from one, who was 18, so therefore, they were adults, and


they were able to make up their own minds, and they were told twice in


London, before the trip went ahead, that there was a journalist


travelling with them, and they were all told this, and it was explained


what the risks of that were. they were told other information


later, in Beijing, which is the concern, that the BBC selectively


gave out the information, so they did not have the opportunity to


give informed consent at the start. What they were told in Beijing was


that this was a BBC team, and that there was an additional person, who


would be operating the camera. I am not convinced that the difference


between a journalist and a BBC journalist is that great. This


could have been a Pulitzer prize- winning New York Times journalist,


who would have given the track just as much publicity as a BBC team.


But the camera... Well, they all had cameras, because that is the


world we live in. And people are wondering, the nature of this trip,


given that it was set up by the wife of John Sweeney, who was being


paid as a producer, is the BBC really happy about that? Well, it


was not filmed with the BBC in mind. One person involved started to


think about this before Christmas, and it so happened that LSE


students applied to go on this trip. Why did the BBC get involved, then?


That was after the students had signed up, and the trip would have


gone ahead anyway, so it was asked whether or not Panorama could be


involved at that point. Thank you both very much. Baroness Thatcher's


death has resulted in a large postbag this week. BBC News


reported -- reported extensively on the build-up to the funeral and


showed the service itself, with contrasting responses from viewers.


James Kay asked... More typical, though, was this, and, from


Now, six months ago today, the Metropolitan Police launched a


formal criminal investigation into alleged sexual abuse by Jimmy


Savile. The BBC had just announced two inquiries of its own, and a


chain of events was in place which, along with the naming of Lord


McAlpine, led to the resignation of the Director-General, George


Entwistle. An internal report found that there had been unacceptable


management failings, and an independent inquiry described BBC


News as going into virtual meltdown. Half a year on, a new Director-


General has just been appointed. Fran Unsworth, we have had a lot of


e-mails about this over the last few months, some of them saying,


the whole culture of the BBC was criticised, and major changes are


needed. Until this happens, it says, no trust will be in existence.


the sackings, I would say that the whole chain of command, from the


Newsnight deputy and a thick, through to the Director-General,


has changed as a consequence. -- from the Newsnight deputy editor.


So, there have been quite a lot of management changes which have taken


place. But in terms of trusting news, which your view it talks


about, I think the best judge of that is our programmes and


audiences. What we saw as a result of the whole Savile meltdown, as it


was described there, this was something which affected about 20


people in the organisation out of a journalistic body of 8,000


journalists. I think what you see is that we have continued during


the course of this time to put up programmes to provide excellent


news coverage on a fairly big range of storage, some of the major ones.


So we must be judged on what we put out on air. -- stories. But the


question remains, how much has really changed, given that several


similar scandals emerged just a few weeks later? This e-mail says, are


you aware of the huge loss of trust? People do not feel that they


were honestly dealt with. Dealing with the loss of trust issue, we


measure trust ratings at the BBC, and what we discovered was that


undoubtedly, during the time of the Savile inquiry, and then the


Pollard report, our trust ratings undoubtedly took a knock. But this


week we discovered that they have recovered to what they were at


around the time just before the Olympics. Does that mean nothing


really needed to change, it was just a matter of time? Pollard


identified things which he felt did need to change in the culture of


the organisation, which is something we are addressing. We


have a new Director-General, who has cumin. As you said, we have


just appointed a new director of news, and we are looking at all of


those Walcott things across the organisation. We are already


starting to put in place some things which might address what we


do. What sort of things?One thing Parlour have looked at was how we


handle investigations. -- Nick Pollard. The Newsnight editor had a


story which he decided not to pursue. In other words, Newsnight


missed a story. They then went on to put out something which was


wrong. So, basically, what we want to do is to look at how we handle


our investigative journalism. If a programme does not want to run it,


maybe it could hand it on to another programme, which might be


able to pursue it further. That's one aspect. Again, there is the


concern that it has been six months, and people have felt they have had


very little communication about what has changed. They do not see


evidence of it. I think it is quite crucial that Newsnight still does


not have a new editor. People are wondering what is the future of


that programme. Some people have suggested that the only way to make


a really fresh start would have been to close that programme down.


I do not agree with that. It is an enormous brand which has been


around for 30 years. It has an extremely good track record. The


programme has served our audiences incredibly well, apart from in this


last few months. To get rid of the whole programme on the basis of a


couple of errors would be a disservice to the audience. But I


come back to what I said, our internal machinations, as it were,


are less important than the product which viewers can assume, and can


they have trust in it, and do they believe it? And I think the


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