26/09/2014 Newswatch


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him. `` has not had to go to prison. And now we ask this BBC coverage


risk being a platform for militants? Hello, and welcome to Newswatch.


With air strikes, parliamentary votes and hostage videos, Islamist


militants are very much in the headlines. But if the BBC helping


the propaganda war? Why did the BBC's royal correspondent disappear


from the Scottish bridge last Friday evening? And indiscreet, perhaps,


but can't a man have a private conversation without it being


broadcast all over the world? Whether you call that an Islamic


State, ISIS or ISIL, and we will be coming to that later, the radical


Islamist group which has seized land in Syria and Iraq in the past few


months now unquestionably dominates the news agenda. US led air strikes


against the militants began on Monday night. On Tuesday, a second


video was released featuring journalist John Cantlie, kidnapped


in Syria in 2012. And the threat to kill another British hostage, Alan


Henning, remains. It is all worthwhile when you see


what is needed to get to actually wear it needs to go. He is the taxi


driver from Salford, held hostage by Islamic State. Tonight, Alan


Henning's wife Barbara begged for his release. She said she had


received an audiophile of Alan pleading for his life.


All this presents considerable challenges to journalists. The


obvious dangers of kidnapped in reporting from Syria and Iraq, the


distress of the facts of the story, with difficult judgements of taste


and decency for editors back in London. Then there is the risk of


providing a platform for the terrorists. Doug Graham is one fewer


concerned by that. There is also the issue of the


terminology used to describe these crimes and their perpetrators,


picked up in this e`mail by Paul Lodwick.


That last point was echoed by Neal Hastings.


Well, to discuss all that, the BBC's deputy director of news and


current affairs joins me now. Fran, we have spoken on Newswatch recently


about the principle that the BBC does use some stills and sometimes


audio from hostage videos, but given that there seemed to be more and


more of these videos coming out, doesn't the BBC need to rethink


whether it uses them at all? Absolutely. We need to reassess, as


we go along, exactly how we treat these videos. Whether we will ever


get to the point where we will say we will not use any of them at all,


in some cases we might do that, if we thought there was no public


interest served by it. But what we have to do here is balance a number


of different things, which is, I duty to inform versus the taste and


decency issues, and also, as you have described, the platform of the


oxygen of publicity issue. And balancing all these things can be


quite tricky, and to lead to tricky editorial judgements, which we must


constantly keep under review, as you suggest. Let's talk about language.


A lot of viewers questioned the taste of news constantly talking


about the details of how the hostages were beheaded. Or even the


word executed. Shouldn't you just say murdered? We do say murdered in


some instances. Executed probably tends to imply, although I don't


think this is actually the definition of it, a legal process.


And obviously there hasn't been a legal process in any of these cases.


Beheaded, well, I think it is actually quite important to know how


these people died, which is particularly gruesome. Then there is


the language of how this group is described. Islamic State, ISIS,


ISIL. Even politicians vary how they describe them. Even if you use the


qualifications so called, a lot of viewers are concerned that this


group are not an organised, legitimate political power, but they


are being talked about in a way which gives them legitimacy. This is


quite a tricky issue, because what we are seeking to do here is just


explain to the audience who it is that we are talking about. They


chose to call themselves Islamic State. You can imply whatever


meaning you think attaches itself to that, but that is what they call


themselves. Politicians are calling them something different, and we


have two actually reflects that as well, because of the politician is


calling them ISIL, then we also have to say the Islamic State, sometimes


known as ISIL, which we do in some of our coverage. But if we start to


decide ourselves what they are called, then I am not sure how


appropriate that is either. The BBC has engaged with British jihadists


in the region to try to understand what is going on and why they are


going up. But there is a concern that the BBC could be a kind of


platform for their propaganda. The interest that some media show in


tracing Jihadi John, for example, distresses a lot of viewers. This is


obviously a very tricky issue, and we don't particularly want to be


providing a platform for people with very extreme views. However, our job


is about understanding as well. I think that what our policy is here


is to show enough of this that we think would answer any questions of


public interest that people have about them. So, for instance, if you


take Jihadi John, so`called Jihadi John, we use some of the audio of


this person to show that they were British. It was quite clear from


their accent. And they were probably from the London area. Also, there is


an argument for putting this out, because somebody might be able to


identify him, which might be of help to the authorities. Fran, thank you


very much for coming on Newswatch. Do let us know your thoughts on


that, or on any aspect of BBC News. And stay with us for details on how


to get in touch. Now for some of your other concerns this week,


starting with an apology from the BBC for showing some footage of


Jimmy Savile on a repeat of an old edition of top of the pops a couple


of weeks ago. The BBC's News article website featured, you guessed it, a


photograph of the disgraced disc jockey. Ingrid Green did not


appreciate the irony. The fallout from last week's


referendum in Scotland will be felt for some time politically, and it


has continued to have an impact on our inbox over the past week. During


last Friday's News at 6pm, the reaction of the Queen to the


referendum result was `` result was keenly awaited. Within the last few


minutes, a statement from the Queen has been published. Our royal


correspondent has the details for us at Balmoral. Nicholas, what does it


say? I'm sorry, we seem to have a few difficulties trying to get a


hold of Nicholas. Apologies for that.


Five minutes later we did get to hear something of Her Majesty's


statement, but with these results. Do not, as they say, adjust your


set. For many in Scotland and elsewhere today, there will be


strong feelings and contrasting emotions among family, friends and


neighbours. That, of course, is the nature of the robust, Democratic...


INAUDIBLE I am so sorry for that.


Despite our best efforts to talk to Nicholas Witchell in Balmoral, we


are not managing. We will try later again in the programme.


Technical problems do sometimes occur, of course. But Caroline


Holmes made this point. There were more royal ramifications


of the independence vote on Tuesday, when, to the Prime Minister's great


embarrassment, this footage was aired on the BBC and elsewhere.


After that conversation with former New York City Mayor Michael


Bloomberg Cameron said he would apologise in


person to the Queen when they next meet.


Do let us know whether you think it was inappropriate for BBC News to


have reported that conversation. And we welcome all your opinions on BBC


News and current affairs. Yours may feature next week, and you may even


appear on the programme. That is all from us. We will be back


to hear your thoughts about BBC News coverage again next week. Goodbye.


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