15/04/2016 Newswatch


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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.


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