21/01/2017 Newswatch


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Hello. Welcome to Newswatch. Coming up on this programme. The Prime


Minister reveals more of the Government's plans for leaving the


European Union. But is the BBC obsessed with the potential


downsides of Brexit? And the BBC Trust says a report about Jeremy


Corbyn's policies on shoot to kill was inaccurate but the corporation's


director of news rejects the finding. What's going on?


In the build-up to it Donald Trump's inauguration the BBC broadcast a


number of reports about the 45th President of the United States.


Monday's panorama, for example, asked whether he was the Kremlin's


candidate for the job? The reporter has a habit of testy on air


encounters as demonstrated in this programme and in a clip from a 2013


interview with Donald Trump. Maybe you are thick, but when you


have a signed contract you can't in this country just break it. By the


way, John, I hate to do this but I have a big group of people


waiting... One last question, please, sir. I have to leave, thank


you. Hold on a second, please, tell me about the man murdered 100


yards... You think he was... He was critical of Putin. Can you list the


number of American journalists who have died under Obama? It is


completely stupid kind of conversation. OK. Very good. I am


very nice to meet you. But I don't like to continue.


Ian was watching that and thought: On Monday, this was the third


headline on BBC's News at Six. Also on tonight's programme, crisis in


Stormont. Today Sinn Fein will not renominate for the position of


deputy firs Minister. New elections in Northern Ireland as


power sharing collapses. Some viewers felt that such dramatic


and significant political news from Northern Ireland merited more


attention from the BBC which didn't lead with that story on any of its


main bulletins. As Kevin put it on Twitter:


Since last June's close and hotly debated referendum, the arguments


about how Britain will leave the European Union have raged on. This


week gave us some clarity on the issue with the Prime Minister's


speech on Tuesday but it certainly didn't mark an end to the arguments


about how easy or successful the process might prove to be.


Parliament will have a vote on the final deal but already the criticism


has started. If all her optimism of a deal with the European Union


didn't work, we would move into a low tax, corporate taxation bargain


basement economy. I am not prepared for Scotland to be taken down a path


that I firmly believe is going to be damaging. Businesses are very


worried that getting that deal in principle within two years is


unrealistic and that what we might do is then fall off a cliff into


this regulatory and trade no-man's-land and people have warned


that would be very damaging. This is one day, 24 hours in what's going to


be a long, complicated, fraught and difficult process. There are people


here in Westminster still and more importantly perhaps on the other


side of the negotiating table, those 27 countries who believe what she's


asking for is a delusion. Several viewers got in touch to


complain of what they saw as a lack of balance in the coverage.


Elizabeth asked: And other viewers echoed that, such


as Arthur Smith who e-mailed: Let's talk about this to Katie Sell,


the editor of BBC political news who joins us from our Westminster


studio. Let's start with the complaints about who is getting air


time. Many viewers are saying too many voices giving initial reaction


to May's speech are hostile to Brexit and essentially the BBC is


rehashing the debate that we had in the referendum? I think the job as


journalists and it's true whether it's at the BBC or across other


media or indeed the newspapers, is to question and ask for answers that


we don't have. The country voted for Brexit but it is really left many


questions unanswered. Actually, on Tuesday when the Prime Minister gave


her speech we gave a great deal of coverage to the speech itself which


set out the arguments and the plans for Brexit from the Government. But


it did leave many, many questions unanswered. You heard there from


Jeremy Corbyn and Nicola Sturgeon with their own questions, so we are


not just asking the questions just from the BBC's point of view,


although we would do that as journalists, we are putting the


concerns of the other main politicians in this country to try


to get some answers and the answers that we don't have.


Part of that concern is about the language used by reporters, a lot of


people are very concerned. Is there too much hypothetical worry, rather


than straight reporting what the Prime Minister said? We did a piece


that ran at about five-and-a-half minutes for the main Six and Ten


news programmes that night and that's a very long piece for news at


that point. We did that specifically because we wanted to give people,


the audience, a chance to hear the Prime Minister's case on what was a


defining speech from the Government. So, I think we did give air time to


that. As I say, this is then the opportunity to say hang on, we are


trying to do the job for the audience which is to raise questions


they may have in their mind and answer questions they may think,


well, she didn't really explain that. What does that mean? And why


would we do that? So it's very much our job as journalists to try and do


that for the audience. That's part of what we are for, is to try and


get to the answers and try and give some clarity where there is perhaps


none coming from the Government. It sounds from some of the viewers'


complaints we are getting that the BBC might say we are dealing with


where there is concerns and questions and in a sense you are


looking for the drama, but perhaps the BBC needs to rethink the tone in


which it covers these things and the assumptions made? Certainly, I would


agree that the tone is absolutely vital and that's true of any story


that we cover. We think carefully about this. We try and - we look at


our scripts over again, we think about the words we use. I would be


very careful if we were adopting a tone that was reflected one side or


the other. The BBC continues to be committed to impartiality and that's


true of the Brexit debate as it is on any other subject. Is it as


simple as the BBC more often needs a caveat, more that we just don't


know, or what a lot of this is going to mean? That's absolutely true, and


we do that, one of the things we have set up in the last couple of


years is the BBC's Reality Check, which is there to try and get to the


bottom of those unanswered questions and try and provide the audience


with some clarity and some facts and figures. Actually, very often the


answer will come, well there is this evidence and that evidence, but in


truth we don't really know the outcome. Do you think there might be


more good news about Brexit out there that could be reported? I


think we should absolutely do that. We will try and make every effort as


the negotiations go on to ask the question is that a good thing, is


that a bad thing? Again it's part of our job to present every side of


that. I would agree that we will be looking for that opportunity as much


as highlighting any concerns or problems with it.


Thank you very much. Finally Complaints can go through a


more formal procedure ending up with a finding by the BBC Trust and


that's what happened after this was broadcast in November 2015 following


the terror attacks in Paris. Today I asked the Labour leader,


Jeremy Corbyn, if he were the resident here at Number 10 whether


or not he would be happy for British officers to pull the trigger in the


event of a Paris-style attack? I am not happy with the shoot to kill


policy in general. I think that is quite dangerous and I think often


can be counterproductive, you have to have security that prevents


people firing off weapons where you can. There are various degrees of


doing things as we know but the idea you end up with a war on the streets


is not a good thing. But Jeremy Corbyn had in fact been responding


to a question there about whether he would be happy to order police or


military to shoot to kill on Britain's streets and not


specifically regarding a Paris-style attack in the UK. The BBC Trust this


week found that the report inaccurately represented the Labour


leader's views, breaching the BBC's impartiality and accuracy


guidelines. But BBC News has rejected that, saying MrCorbyn's


remarks were not taken out of context, that he fully understood


the nature of the questions asked and were reported accurately and


impartially. John Blair objected to what he saw as insufficient coverage


of the finding on the BBC itself, writing:


And Hugh had this response: Thank you for all your comments this


week. You too can share your opinions on BBC news, current


affairs and TV online or even appear on the programme. You can call us:


Or e-mail. You can find us on Twitter.


Do have a look at previous discussions on our website.


That's all from us. We will be back to hear your thoughts about BBC News


coverage again next week. Goodbye.


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