15/10/2016 Newswatch


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More than five years into the destruction and suffering


of the Syrian civil war, are we getting a full picture


We speak to the BBC Middle East editor about the challenges


of reporting on such a harrowing conflict.


Was this the voice of a new Nobel laureate for literature


First, it was surprising to hear on Thursday that the top story


At least until it became clear was the real subject matter


The spread was one of the number of brands withdrawn from the Tesco


online site after a dispute over prices with a supplier,


Unilever, pointing to the sharp drop in the value of the pound


which many attributed to the government permitted that


The news last week and was dominated by the release of the video


in which Donald Trump boasted that his fame meant he could do


Other comments made on that tape by the US presidential candidate


were summarised in a way that concerned this viewer.


News reports used the terms groping and lewd behaviour.


What Donald Trump did was to claim he repeatedly uses his


powerful position to harass and assault women.


He said he just walked up to them and kissed them or grabbed them.


If this were true, it would constitute sexual assault.


To say that Trump boasted of sexual assault would


To refrain from describing it in those terms is to commit


It is to accept a misogynistic linguistic framing and it is to


betray victims who need to hear that there is recourse in law


The announcement on Thursday that Bob Dylan had won the Nobel Prize


for literature caused much discussion.


After watching the news at six, some viewers were wondering


Bob Dylan, like Shakespeare, has the knack for coining a phrase


which becomes part of everyday speech.


He has his own sense of meter and rhyme, metaphor and meaning.


He is a contemporary chronicler, storyteller, moralist and poet whose


work and words have changed attitudes and lives.


Now, his vocal style is not exactly classical but those who sing


No, because as one person on Twitter put it, the last 20 seconds


on the Nobel Prize featured footage of not the man himself


BBC News held their hands up to the mystic to us at the end


of the Bob Dylan package some archive footage which had been


incorrectly labelled as him was used.


This was a production error which was rectified


Now, since the ceasefire in Syria broke down,


the second city, Aleppo, has been under intense bombardment.


Political and diplomatic arguments have raged


over who bears responsibility and how it might be resolved.


After five years of war, a solution seems further


During the recent pause in fighting, our Middle East editor,


I couldn't cross into eastern Aleppo.


This was close to the front line in the old city,


a tangle of mediaeval alleys that used to be the greatest souk


The old city was an extraordinary human creation, now


This child was leaving hospital for his new life.


It will be without his arm, and without his four cousins


For reasons of logistics and safety, media access to Syria has been


irregular and difficult and some viewers have told us


they are concerned that the BBC is providing an incomplete or even


Well, to discuss the challenges of reporting from Syria,


Jeremy Bowen joins us now from Cardiff.


Most reports that we get here tend to be from the rebel side.


How far do you try to get access to the government side?


Most of the reporting I have done since I went after the war started


There are basically two ways of getting into Syria


One is with a visa and reporting from the government side in the main


and the other way in was mainly over the Turkish border


That access is almost ceased because it is too dangerous.


The chances of running into jihadists who will harm


When I report from Syria, I am reporting from


The worry I have had is that I have not been able to report


from the rebel held side and that when we use pictures from the rebel


side it is pictures we have sourced ourselves rather than directly


Those are some of the most distressing images.


Some viewers are concerned that we are getting a distorted


We get this footage coming from the rebel side of casualties.


The message being the bombs are being dropped by


There are distressing pictures from both sides.


In that clip of mine, the wounded boy, he lived


in government-held territory and was hurt by a shell that,


his family said, came from a place held by the jihadists


It is representative, I think, to use pictures of children.


They can be more shocking, but war is shocking.


There is a difficult issue about what you show.


There is also a concern of when you show such distressing


images, of viewers feeling hopeless about it, also a fear


of the desensitising with this torrent of distressing images.


I think it is up to people like myself to report in such a way


The argument about how much blood and gore reality to show is one


It is a constant discussion, and I have had many discussions over


many years from many wars with programme editors


Generally speaking, the people in the field want to show more


than the people who edit the programmes are prepared to show


and in an ideal world you get some sort of a happy medium


One other concern we have heard, and I have heard it expressed


by former diplomats, is that the introductions to news


items about Syria often oversimplify and they talk about rebels


versus Assad and Russia, but the reality is more complex


with many jihadist groups on the ground.


The news should not be about good people versus bad people.


An intro gives you a flavour and it is not the whole story.


You have to take the whole in more than one piece because I try to look


at the number of pieces I have done from one reporting trip rather


That is difficult because not everybody watches the news


with the same obsessive zeal that journalists do,


but you cannot get everything in every piece.


What I try to do, and this is the challenge of TV reporting,


I try to do a story which has got something in it with someone


who is interested but doesn't know much will get and learn something


And will also, at the same time, have something in it that the top


diplomat at the Foreign Office who deals with the Middle East might


You have to be careful with your words and good interviews


and good sound, and sometimes we succeed and sometimes we don't.


Finally, when presenters read the headlines on a busy news


programme they hope and assume that the pictures being run


by the studio gallery bear relation to the words they are saying.


It doesn't always work out like that.


It is half six, it is Friday the 14th of October.


We will be joined by Scottish First Minister Nicola


Sturgeon and we will talk to her about plans for a second


We have clearly run the wrong pictures over


We will be talking later about the escaped


Many of those who spotted that posted to Twitter:


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


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


We will be back to hear your thoughts about BBC News


An autumnal week all in all across the UK.


Mainly due to easterly winds which we have had.


We will start to see some changes over the weekend.


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