22/01/2016 Newswatch


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awards next month. Those are the latest headlines. Now, we will have


a full round-up of the day 's news but before that, news watch...


Coming up, Dame Janet Smith has been looking into how the BBC handled


reports of abuse by Jimmy Savile, but does every news broadcast


on the subject have to feature his grinning face?


And the pay of junior doctors is just one statistic that has been


Does the BBC report the numbers in a clear and impartial way?


The abuse committed by Jimmy Savile and the circumstances surrounding it


have been extremely difficult for the BBC to report


More than three years ago the corporation set up a review


headed by Dame Janet Smith into its culture and practices


This week a draft of the report was leaked and that led


to an objection we have heard before from viewers.


Another fraught issue cropped up again this week


when the Prime Minister again criticised the BBC for referring


to the organisation known as Islamic State rather


Here he is clashing with Sarah Montague


on Monday's Today Programme on Radio 4.


Can I say again that I think Muslim families around the country


would have held their heads in despair this morning when,


once again, you just called it Islamic State.


You didn't even say "so-called" Islamic State.


David Cameron is not the only one who thinks that changing


the terminology is due, as this email from a viewer


One subject we will be hearing a great deal about this year


We won't know until November who is going to be following


President Barack Obama into the White House,


but the business of voting gets going in little over a week


when Republicans and Democrats both hold a caucus in Iowa,


the start of the process of selecting candidates.


This week, the Republican frontrunner Donald Trump received


the endorsement of someone who has been absent from the American


She's still a darling of the Tea Party right


and the evangelical wing of the Republican Party.


But she is gaffe-prone, as was seen when she ran


They say the difference between a hockey mom and pit bull?


You can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska.


Rather like Donald Trump today, Sarah Palin has always been widely


mocked by sections of the British media.


No, as several viewers pointed out, including Peter Jackson


Numbers are at the heart of much news reporting but their use


is proving increasingly controversial.


Take the disputed figures for what the Government has been


spending on flood defences or its claim that stroke victims


are 20% more likely to die at a weekend, which has been


challenged by some in the medical establishment.


And then there is the argument over how much junior doctors will be paid


under the proposed new contract, which Home Affairs Editor Mark


The Government calculates that three quarters of junior doctors


will actually be better off, many will see no difference at all


They certainly do, and on Tuesday, viewer Stephen Lochear spotted


And Martin Green had this to say about a report on high levels


of Omega 3 fatty acids being associated with a 70% increase


Well, the BBC Trust has set up a review to look into this whole


area of the use of statistics on BBC news and current affairs.


It will be overseen by an independent panel


which includes Paul Johnson, Director of the Institute


of Fiscal Studies, and he joins me now.


From a journalist's point of view, it can feel that there is a lot more


data out there available for analysis.


Do you think that is the case, there is almost too much


There is a vast amount of information or rather


there is a vast amount of data and turning that into useful


trustworthy information is incredibly difficult.


You really need people who are experts in understanding


There are a number of difficulties here.


One is that Government departments and statisticians have access


to that data a little bit before everyone else they can put it out


and put their particular spin on it and if you need to respond


immediately, it is often very difficult to know quite


where the spin ends and the facts start.


And because we are in this 24-hour news cycle, the data comes out


at nine o'clock in the morning and people are responding


It would be nice at least to leave it until the one o'clock news,


to give it time to understand it and one my frustrations


is when we have the Budget or the Spending Review,


we at the IFS put information out the next day but two days later,


everyone has forgotten about it, by which time you might actually


have done more serious looking at what was it was about.


Let us look at some specific complaints we have had.


We have had this email from Stuart Orange from London.


He feels that the BBC misuses graphs online.


He points to a recent graph on climate change.


Do you have a particular concern about graphs?


It is a classic problem about graphs because where you set the origin


and the bottom of the vertical axis makes a huge difference


to whether a change looks big or small.


If you do this in the context of climate change, people worry


about whether the climate will increase or temperatures


will increase by 2 degrees above preindustrial times and 2


degrees on a chart which starts at zero and goes up to 30,


it is a tiny change and in some sense that is one way of looking


at it but 2 degrees is very important and maybe it is important


to put that within a small amount of space so it does look big and it


does look very different according to where you put the axis


In many ways it is an editorial judgment about what is big


And the problem is you can show things that are not very big


as being big, so unemployment, from 6% to 8.5% can look huge


if the graph only goes between 5.7% and 6%.


We have another e-mail from Jeff Simmons.


It is a good point about what analogy people


I think analogies are very important and that is a good example.


I have no idea what 10,000 square metres looks


like but I have a pretty good idea of what a football pitch looks


like so if you say that something is 12 hectares,


it is actually quite helpful to see how many football pitches or how


many bits of Wales or whatever area is often used that relates to.


In many aspects of measurement, if you cannot bring that analogy


so that people can visualise it, it is very difficult if they are not


working all the time with measures of area, for example.


It is interesting that after the Autumn Statement,


we had complaints that the BBC described George Osborne as lucky


and that this was biased and of course you are an economic


data expert and you used the word lucky to talk about the statistics.


What is your view on how data issues are reported and do you have


concerns that sometimes they are misreported?


The forecast changed a tiny bit and in a way it was helpful


it was a little bit so if I have concern about the way


it was reported it was reported as a much bigger thing than it


actually was and that is partly because the Chancellor talked


about ?27 billion, that's a big number but it was cumulative over


seven years and by the end of that period it was ?4 billion.


Out of ?800 billion of spending, that is tiny.


We'll look out for that review for the BBC Trust which will be


Thank you for all of your comments this week.


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


or even appear on the programme, you can call us or email us.


You can find us on Twitter and have a look at our website.


We will be back to hear your thoughts again next week.


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