24/03/2017 Newswatch


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Hello and welcome. Two big issues on the programme this week. BBC news


programmes decamp to Westminster near the site of Wednesday's attack,


was this the scale and response that the attacker might have hoped for?


Did coverage of Martin McGuinness's death focus too much on his role as


a peacemaker and not enough on his IRA past? From early Wednesday


afternoon millions have watched what unfolded in Westminster with a sense


of shock and revulsion, and for some there was also concern about whether


the huge media attention paid into the hands of those who would support


this outrage. -- played. We are going to update you on an


ongoing incident going on at the Palace of Westminster. We were


treated to nothing more than an often repeated sequence of 3-4


events that happened, interspersed with speculation, and then the event


repeated and then more speculation. BBC, you can do better than this,


repeating things over and over again, highlighting the terrorism,


isn't that exactly what the terrorists want? I rather suspect it


is. His views were echoed by many other viewers, and of course a


degree of repetition and speculation is inevitable in the initial


reporting of an event of this kind, but other viewers objected to the


choice made by BBC News to broadcast extensively since the attack not


from its usual studios, but from the streets of Westminster near the


scene of the crime. The News at ten, on Wednesday, the Thursday News and


Victoria Derbyshire that day and much of the Channel's out but also


mounted outside broadcast, which some felt could have disrupted the


police work and was also different to the carry on approach which was


encouraged by the Prime Minister. Why did the anchor 's have to run


the programme from an empty Street, Reading from a makeshift prompt? Why


were their repeated visits to reporters outside hospitals? Who had


nothing to report. All of this served to dramatise the situation


adding nothing to the quality of the coverage. But giving maximum


exposure for the terrorist. Apart from reporting facts and showing


respect for victims, the day after an attack like this should be


handled like any other day. If the programme had been run from the


studio, with some time allocated to other news, the BBC would have shown


that normality had not been disrupted by the incident. Instead


you chose to show the terrorist, and what a big impact they can have. To


discuss how BBC News has covered the attacks and joined by Gavin Allen,


the BBC controller of news programmes. It was a terrible


attack, and viewers are say, what was to be gained by all of these


outside broadcasts, given there were no further developments. There were


further developments on the morning after, for instance, and it remained


a situation which was unfolding and there was a minutes silence about to


happen and MPs were coming back for a special statement by the Prime


Minister later that morning. It is partly about the nature of news, and


to be at a location, where something has happened, you do get a better


understanding as a journalist, rather than when you are sitting at


a desk, and it conveys to the audience that this is a major event


and this will have a huge impact on the UK. There is a concern about


copycats. I don't think responsibly reporting what has happened is


encouraging people to repeat it. We are very aware of the


responsibilities we have but we are also aware that there are millions


of people out there, who want to know what actually happened, not


just what is being speculated on and what they think might have happened


or the rumours. They come to the BBC to understand what is actually a


curving and that is our job. Let's be realistic, this was a huge event


and there is going to be publicity for the terrorists in this case,


because everywhere, social media, every news organisation, is going to


cover it, and the responsibility for the BBC is to make sure that the way


we cover it and the precision with which we cover it is absolutely


accurate so you get the information you need without overly


sensationalising it. There were many images of the dead and dying and


injured and many people thought this was intrusive. I would quibble with


that. There were images across this week in the newsroom and in


newspapers, and on-air, but we take great care to think what I'll be


conveying with this image and there are images which we did not show --


what are we conveying. In terms of conveying and try to understand for


the audience's site what has happened and the severity of what


has happened, but not to overflow into insensitivity and imaging on


the dignity of the injured and the dying and sadly in the case of the


dead, their family, that is important. PC Keith Palmer died and


people will take that as an example of intrusive coverage. We were very


careful not to show many of those images, but we tried to show the


scene and a more general generic sense of people gathered around him


trying to save him. Again it is the balance, this is an event which has


happened. People said they saw the bodies of people who were severely


injured or possibly dead. The fact they did not necessarily see their


faces does not make it accept will. It makes a difference, and if you


see a crowd of people around someone who was injured, that is different


from seeing the person who is injured and the injury, and that is


a big difference, but in fairness it is a precise line. You have got to


make a judgment and that is why Devon broadcasters and different


organisations have come to different judgments. -- different


broadcasters. You did have a lot of repetition after the attack with not


much in the way of facts and some viewers feel that this kind of


coverage is adding to a sense of panic unnecessarily. I don't think


it does, people come to the news channel to find out what is the


latest news, how long they stay for it is up to them but it varies, but


if you come in you want the news instantly, so there will be


repetition, and at any minute there could be an update, and what we


tried to do is to make sure that every bit of that information was


conveyed clearly and accurately and not to speculate and I think we


achieved that fairly well. Thank you. We will talk about the next


issue. That was not the only big controversy, Martin the business, a


former IRA leader who played a significant role in the Northern


Ireland peace process, becoming Deputy First Minister after that --


Martin McGuinness. But for many viewers the BBC focus too much on


the latter part of his life and not enough on the former. We have this


phone message. It is unbelievable what the BBC have done, with praise,


praise, praise, for a butcher, an absolute butcher of a person. Other


viewers objected to the scale and the tone of the coverage including


Des Murphy who sent this e-mail. Gavin is still in the studio. The


main charges at the BBC glossed over his serious past as a senior IRA


commander and that was not acceptable if you were trying to be


balanced. It would have been not acceptable if we had glossed over


that part of his life, but we didn't. It was very clear in the


interviews we did and the packages we ran that we were conveying


someone who yes, in the second half of their life was a senior


politician and a negotiator for the peace process, but in the early half


was absolutely clearly involved with the IRA and was responsible directly


or indirectly for a number of deaths and we could not have glossed over


that. We had hundreds of complaints and they said it was not given


enough attention, the terrorist past, and the interviews with Tony


Blair and Bill Clinton were paying tribute to the peace process and


complaints to -- and criticisms were further down the order. I can think


of many examples when we had the voices of relatives of victims, and


people such as Norman Tebbit, who were clear in their utter


condemnation and loathing of someone they described as a cow would. And


the world is a sweeter place, and we were clear there was an utter hatred


of Martin McGuinness, but there was also a reverence for him by others


and we had to make sure that this is a very complex person, hated on one


side and laughed on another and we have got to convey that is who he


was. The BBC can be accused of being too reverential when it comes to an


obituary for fear of causing offence. That is a danger of all


obituaries, not just the BBC, you tend to accentuate the positive when


people have died, but we tried to be as balance as we could be here, but


in principle, it is incredibly important that you convey a person's


life with an obituary, not just a sensitivity towards relatives and


the moment that he's died. We had hundreds of complaints from people


who are very angry and who said the BBC did not give enough attention to


Martin McGuinness's terrorist past. What I would say to them, one of the


images of this week that stays with me about Martin McGuinness, the


First Minister, Arlene Foster, going to the funeral yesterday, as a


member of the DUP party, at the funeral of a former IRA commander,


and that is a pretty extraordinary juxtaposition of someone who should


be a sworn enemy but recognises this is quite complex and I don't


underplay in anyway the fact that as I say people hated this man. But it


is the job at the BBC to represent the totality of somebody and the


views across the board of that person. Gavin Allen, thanks for


joining us. Thank you for your comments this week. Please share


your opinions on BBC News by calling us or e-mailing us. We also on


Twitter. Have a look at the website for previous discussions. That is


all from us and we will be back to hear your thoughts about BBC News


coverage next week. Goodbye. The weather is the king great this


week in, these guys will be clearing pretty much everywhere through the


course of the evening and overnight -- is looking great. It will be a


chilly night. This is the high


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