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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