10/03/2017 Newswatch


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There will be a full round up at 10pm, but now, News watch.


Hello, welcome to Newswatch with me Samira Ahmed.


On this week's programme: What's the BBC's Economics Editor doing


standing in the street trying to catch numbers?


And do we need to know that this distinguished human rights lawyer


is married to a Hollywood film star?


It's an annual challenge for BBC News - how to make the complex


economics of the Budget accessible, without dumbing down.


It was only to be expected that there were plenty


But what surprised many viewers was that in a preview piece


on Monday, some of those numbers seemed to be flying right


into the hands of the BBC's Economics Editor, Kamal Ahmed.


Inflation could fit 2.8% by the end of the year. That could mean a


squeeze on living standards. The price of fuel has already hit an 18


month high. It now costs ?9 and more to fill up the average family car


than it did a year ago. And what about the all-important issue of


business confidence? Well, the latest survey suggest that


confidence is declining. Graham Ford was incredulous


at what he saw, and left us He was standing in the street as if


he was in Sesame Street, with figures coming down out of the sky.


This has lost all credibility for the news. Your convoluted is try to


bowl of things going on around him. This is just another example of the


news totally dumbing down. Just give us the news from people who know


what they are talking about in the studio. Thank you very much.


Elsewhere in the report other figures - and words -


popped up in the nearby countryside, and there was also a strong line


in finding descriptions in nature which also applied


With little discernible Brexit effect, what has been behind the sun


continuing to shine on the UK's finances. So the economic waters of


the moment are not too treacherous for Philip Hammond. But this will


not be a Budget is full of big giveaways, despite the brighter


economic environment. After hearing those lines of script


and watching the graphics, another viewer, Michael O'Shea,


recorded on camera his views It was frustrating and distracting.


So much so I cannot recall what he was talking about. They reminded me


of year seven pupils when they first used PowerPoint, they used every


feature and gimmick regardless of its suitability of relevance. I


appreciate graphics has its place in news presentation, maybe in the


studio, but a presenter talks to the screen and we do not need to be


entertained with a news presentation.


In another report the following night,


more numbers were dropping down from the sky,


although this time not into Kamal Ahmed's hands.


And there were visual metaphors, too,


with the BBC's Economics Editor on a bridge over the Tyne,


which then became the backdrop for a rather spectacular bar chart.


So, was all this invention a fun way of making a complex


subject more accessible - or self-indulgent dumbing down?


Richard Lynch enjoyed Monday's numbers-in-the-hand trick, tweeting:


"Loving the graphics from Kamal on BBC News At ten tonight...


While Andrew Watson thought there were:


"Some great The Day Today-style flying graphics on BBC News tonight.


"Fair play to Kamal Ahmed for keeping a straight face."


Let's explore those reactions with the Deputy Editor of the BBC's


News at Six and News at Ten, Hilary O'Neill.


Viewers do understand that using graphics to try make it clear and


understandable, but these ones, they were just dropping out of the sky.


They didn't mean anything. They did mean something, every number there


was a relevant. It was therefore a reason. The locations had been


thought through and I thought it was informative and creative and


entertaining, and actually, I don't have a problem with it myself. I do


understand if some viewers thought it was slightly distracting, are but


all we are trying to do with an awful lot of material and a big


collection of numbers is to make it as clear as possible and hopefully


do that in a way that engages the view and is not just the numbers in


a studio. Is interesting that you deliberately went out of the studio


for that reason, because fewer say it ended up being distracting. He's


doing this in the street and in the end, it is the number he has just


said out loud, there's nothing graphic on the representation of the


number that helps you understand it better. I think if there was only


one number, I would accept that. But if there's an awful lot of numbers,


maybe the viewers who complained are just super numerous in way that I am


not, and an expert in the economy in a way I am not, but we do know a


whole range of people were glad about it were watching and we need


to try to accommodate people who don't necessarily already know the


numbers and lots of the audience research shows that firstly, people


have a vague idea quite often but not necessarily the detail, and


secondly, even if they do know the detail, they do not mind being


reminded, especially ahead of the big day like a Budget. Specific


complaint made was that it looks like the BBC's graphics team got


carried away by what you can do, rather than what is useful. And with


the scene on the streets, there was an inflation figure which was up and


it dropped down from the sky which is illogical. The details of what


goes up and down... But it's interesting. The graphic is meant to


be clear, the figures about going up when it comes down. But the arrow


was up. I think over all, you write these things keep changing and


evolving, because the technology allows us to. We do want to be on


the wrong side and do things for the sake of it. But that would have been


meticulously planned and the only motivation behind it would be trying


to make what is sometimes a dry chunk of information interesting to


viewers. I'm sorry if some found it distracting and we always need to


take into consideration if we've gone too far or are we serving our


audience or pleasing ourselves and of course, that's what we'll


continue to do. Viewers were saying that it was quite childish, pushing


metaphors about sunny days and troubled waters. Is this not a


regular viewer? We often talk about storm clouds gathering. In fairness,


he was in those locations for a reason. He was in Hampshire


specifically because consumer spending is up there and that was a


reflection of the story he was partly telling and also when


unemployment is low there. In the second piece, he was there because


although the economy is growing a little, is below where the rest of


the UK years. There are reasons why he was where he was. And it is


unfair given that we sometimes come in for a lot of criticism as an


organisation and as a news organisation forced King to London


all the time and being in a studio and doing it from a metropolitan


point of view, so we went out and about. Thank you.


Do let us know what you think about the visual presentation


of television news, or about any aspect of BBC News.


Stay tuned for details of how to contact us.


There was another example this week of the BBC's Graphics department


being busy making numbers fly around the screen in a report


from Justin Rowlatt about possible restrictions on visas being given


to Indians wanting to work in the United States.


But it was the way the piece started that annoyed another viewer.


She graduated from a top American university and has worked as a


software engineer for Microsoft and Facebook. But she is not sure she


would be welcome in America any more. Engineers like me are being


pushed out of the US today. It is really unfortunate. Sue Robson rang


us after watching that to make this point. I comedy what I have just


seen. An item about troubles-macro restrictions on Indian engineers


taking jobs in the USA. He has just shown an Indian engineer putting on


her make-up and getting dressed, buttoning up her dress over her


chest. And this on International winning's day, to! If she were a man


he would not have shown him slicking back his hair and doing up his


shirt. They would have shown him doing his job.


The charge of sexism was also made on Tuesday,


after an item on the News at Six about the persecution


Tomorrow, the lawyer acting on behalf of the Yazidis will adjust


the United Nations in New York and call for formal investigation into


the genocide. Amal Clooney who is married to George Clooney Tommy why


she's going to represent the Yazidis why their causes important to her.


Vivienne Davies was one of a number of viewers watching that who had


Is it really necessary to mention the fact that Amal Clooney is


married to George Clooney? She's an intelligent woman who is doing the


job that she does because of her intelligence, together with the


knowledge and experience. And because she is married to a Fulham


star. Put it out BBC, you can do better than that.


Finally, back to the Budget and to numbers - specifically,


the amount of extra funding for social care announced


You will spend 2 billion on social care in England. A billion available


in the next year. There is a longer-term review off to pay to


look after the elderly. With that plea, we


leave you 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 on 0370 010 6676 You can find us on Twitter


@newswatchbbc, and do have a look We'll be back to hear your


thoughts about BBC News Comic up a detailed forecasting


weather for the week ahead. Followed


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