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leaders. At 10pm, Fiona Bruce will lead us
into a full review of the day's news but first, here is Newswatch.
Hello and welcome to Newswatch with me, Samira Ahmed.
Too much fighting and not enough fact?
Is the BBC informing us about
the reasons for Britain to leave or remain in the EU?
And Whittingdale and Welby - did BBC News
overstep the mark this week on reporting on the private lives of
If you've already had it up to here with the build-up
to June's referendum on Britain's membership in the EU, beware -
the official campaign has only just started but already we've had plenty
of feedback on how the BBC is approaching this thorniest of
Much of it raising the question of how enlightening and
One example came on Monday with a special edition of BBC Two's
This is not legislation imposed on us.
We are part of the legislative process and
until Chris understands this, he is not really going to come
In debates and discussions like that and studio
interviews with representatives from two sides and soundbites featured in
news reports we hear a welter of contradictory claims often stated
with complete conviction and that has been bothering a number of
One of them, Michael Gabbitas, recorded his thoughts on
It makes it much more exciting and interesting to report
on the divisions within the parties and talk
But this isn't helping the people very much and what I would
prefer to see is some impartial and expert analysis.
We get no say in the way it is spent.
Specifically in any decision that we make on whether or not we
stay in the EU or come out of it, there are bound to be associated
threats, opportunities and risks and costs and benefits and
And all of these things are useful in making a
And it seems to me that it is for the national broadcaster to
Joining me now is James Stevenson, the news editor for
Unlike other elections, everything, it feels, is disputed by
It makes watching coverage, as some of the viewers
have made clear, incredibly unenlightening.
Too many viewers feel they haven't actually got clear
what the main arguments are on either side and is it the BBC's
I think it is a challenge to us and one that we are fully
I think it is fair to say, I think you said in
your introduction, this is the start of the official campaign so we have
ten weeks now of what everyone thinks will be increasingly intense
We have got a responsibility to cover the news and
we will do that as things develop with the campaigns.
I definitely agree with the contributors who are
saying they need some light to go with the heat and we are aiming to
provide that in a variety of ways so, for example, we will have issues
cards online so they can share them on social
cards online so they can share them on social media,
We have already got a jargon busting element on our
website so if anyone is confused about terms,
We have begun to run short video explainers with some of the basic
things as simple as how has the vote come about?
Right through to documentaries and debates that will
We all accept the challenge that has been laid down
and we will have to see, come the vote,
and we will have to see, come the vote, if we have
Even with all these places, and I know there are things
like the reality check part of the website as well,
where you can go and look at some of the claims being
Laying out the facts isn't actually that exciting, is it, as
I wonder if the reality for news is that stuff like
Peter Mandelson versus Chris Grayling on Newsnight does seem more
I thought you were a little bit unfair to that debate in
your clip because it was a long, lengthy, very serious minded look at
sovereignty and there will be six of those,
looking at different aspects of the big decision that is going to
be made and there was an expert witness who had been in a senior
role at the European Court of Justice who
role at the European Court of Justice who was a contributor
I accept, there are different things that work
We know that debate formats and the big debates
We are going to have an event in front of a very
large audience in Wembley Arena and we know from previous experience
that a lot of people find that very helpful
that a lot of people find that very helpful as a way
For other people, we will be looking in depth in other ways so
we have had the first of two parts of an excellent Nick Robinson series
looking at the whole history of the relationship
Michelle Hussain will be looking at migration,
we will be looking at the central question
of whether we will be better off in or out
We are certainly planning to offer a full
range of things for a full range of our audience.
Because this is a really big challenge, that every
so-called fact is actually disputed and the BBC is trying so hard to
balance every claim with its counterclaim that it doesn't
actually leave that much time to just go
I certainly think there is something in that.
You have mentioned our reality check service that we are
running online but also using that to inform our broadcast coverage.
Sometimes you can get to a hard fact and sometimes you can't.
Sometimes the campaigns, one side or the
other, will assert something as a firm fact and when you look at it
more closely, it doesn't actually hold water.
What we are determined to do is go down
as far down the track is possible to see what
as far down the track is possible to see what is conjecture
And we are very aware that the audience wants us
that service and we will do it as far as we can take
it before you hit the, well, there are assumptions
Then we will try to share with people what
those assumptions and disputes are about.
Briefly, there is two and a
And not just in terms of the audience but also yourselves?
I thought you were asking about personal fatigue!
I am not too worried about that and on
my colleagues, although it is nice of you to be concerned on our
We are already seeing a high level of engagement are really quite
Our expectation is as the vote gets closer and people who don't
necessarily make this the first interest in life will focus down
because they know they have got an important decision to make and as
and when they choose to look more deeply at the issue to try to inform
themselves about how they are going to vote,
resources and coverage there that serves their needs.
James Stevenson, thank you very much.
It has been a week where issues of privacy and
intrusion have been at the forefront of media discussion.
It started last Saturday, when BBC News followed up
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, says
he has discovered he is
the son of Sir Winston Churchill's last Private Secretary.
In a statement he says a DNA test revealed that his biological father
was not, as he had always believed, Gavin Welby, but the late Sir
The attention the BBC gave to the story
bothered a number of viewers, with Liz Templer writing, "It seems
Although Justin Welby is a public figure, his mother
is not and I did not feel this was a matter of public interest.
The disclosure of intimate detail as to
when she slept with people just appear to be salacious.
That question of the public interest cropped up
again on Tuesday with the
revelation that John Whittingdale had a relationship with a woman he
said he later discovered was working in the sex industry.
of Newsnight that broke the story, despite the fact that for newspapers
Whether this is connected with the culture secretary's role in
regulating the press was much discussed but Edward Brown was more
concerned about the prominence of the BBC gave the news on Wednesday.
Single man has an affair with single woman.
I can't believe the BBC have this as a lead story.
You are becoming a tabloid news outlet.
Privacy and intrusion can also apply to financial affairs,
of course, and some of you feel the line has
been crossed in coverage of
the Prime Minister's tax arrangements after last week's leak
from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.
Sandy Cooper told us it was
high time that on this subject, David Cameron was left alone.
We are now into the second week of the news regarding the
The BBC still seems to have to mention the PM's
Father's Blairemore trust should be by now common
knowledge, registered with the UK Inland Revenue.
The revelations in the Panama Papers prompted a demonstration in central
London last Saturday, where hundreds of protesters demanded the
resignation of the Prime Minister over what they considered his lack
of commitment to tackling tax avoidance.
BBC News did report on this on the news channel and within
the BBC One bulletin packages but insufficiently
I am concerned that you are not telling us the news.
You know, there is a great deal happening in the
centre of London at the moment demanding Cameron's departure and
For goodness sake, get off your backsides.
Finally, back to the Prime Minister and his financial affairs.
The decision he made to publish his tax
returns last weekend was
Well, have a listen to four clips from the
first five minutes of last Saturday's late BBC One bulletin.
An unprecedented move by the Prime Minister as he attempts
to shut down the row over his finances...
Minister is preparing to publish his tax returns...
He will be hoping that by releasing unprecedented
detail on his personal finances that he can convince the public
Confronting the issue head-on with this
Alan wondered, does the BBC has to include the word unprecedented
"Trivial, perhaps, but it gets on my nerves."
Let us know if anything grates on your nerves or meets with
You can contact as on: You can find us on
Twitter and do have a look at previous discussions on our
We will be back to hear your thoughts
about BBC News coverage again next week.