19/05/2017 Newswatch


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Coming up at ten, a full round-up of the day's news. First, it's


Newswatch. Hello and welcome to Newswatch


with me Samira Ahmed. Coming up: the party


manifestos are all out. How well has the BBC


done on explaining their policies fairly


and impartially? And, are we hearing too many random


opinions from not always With the main parties


publishing their offers to voters, this week has seen the


general election campaign in full The BBC's political editor


Laura Kuenssberg was on hand and on Here she is on Thursday


reporting on the Conservatives' proposals,


and first on Tuesday reacting And remember not so long ago in 2015


Ed Miliband made a few little tiptoes to the left of where


Labour had been and he lost that Jeremy Corbyn is making a much


bigger step in the same direct of Middle England are really ready


for the policies that he believes And, of course, the


complications of Brexit means whatever else she is promising


could be derailed by that becoming extremely difficult,


and not just hard to deliver So, broadly, though, as with any


political idea leader for the mainstream, easier


to say than to prove. Some viewers object


to what they see as a running commentary on what politicians


are saying and doing during the campaign, with David Jowett


putting it like this. "It seems the news bulletins


are becoming the Laura Her pieces to camera


and the questioning of political figures are not the broad


unbiased approach that one should expect from the BBC but come across


as the presentation of personal The BBC should be providing


a broader approach with a considerably higher


factual content." Allegations of bias,


as we've mentioned before in recent weeks, have been rife with some


viewers feeling the BBC has given the lion's share of screen time


and prominence to the Labour Party. Tom and Jan Borland


profess themselves, "Bemused and somewhat annoyed,


to say the least, by the total airtime given over


to the Labour Party, and to Jeremy Corbyn in particular,


who is the lead story every time This amount of press


coverage is, to my mind, highly disproportionate, biased


towards a single person and his party and not conducive to a level


political playing field." For the majority of


those contacting the BBC, though, the bias


is in the other direction with Rav Dhillon speaking for many


who feel, "There is a sneering and condescending tone


in the interviewing and reporting Elsewhere, the BBC's


economics editor Kamal Ahmed also came under attack after his


piece on Labour's manifesto on Those earning above ?80,000


will pay a tax rate of If you earn above that amount


the loss will be around ?400. For those earning ?123,000


the rate rises to 50p. That could leave some


with a loss of up to ?23,000. Many viewers took to their


calculators and then to social media to point out that those sums


were wrong as the BBC later acknowledged, though not on-air,


those earning ?123,000 under Labour's


plans would actually pay an extra ?2150 in


income tax, not 23,000. You'd have to earn ?500,000 to be


taxed that much more. Philip Jones told us,


"I will assume this was a genuine error, albeit a gross one,


and not a deliberate ploy to mislead potential voters into


mistrusting the Labour Party." But Louis Mendee spoke for many


when he posted, "This It is wildly unacceptable for


the BBC to be reporting falsehoods Later that night there


were several examples of the BBC's efforts to get out


and about during this election campaign and hear the views


of so-called Here's Deputy Political


Editor John Pienaar soliciting opinions


in a gym in Bradford. Labour under Jeremy Corbyn,


what do you think? Well, I quite like his


policies but I don't I agree, yeah, I don't think


they're doable myself. Kenny Watt was watching


that and thought the views of the gentlemen


exercising there, and more generally vox pops like that, did not add


greatly to the sum of human He's got a journalist coming


in when he's in the middle of his work-out asking him questions


when he's probably just thinking, "Oh my god, when's this hill


climb going to end?" And that's the problem


with vox pops, because basically you're not getting a true


representation of the population. This is how we get into the position


of sound bites winning elections. Stick to having trained journalists


telling us about the facts in a story rather than the opinions


of the ill informed. Well, let's discuss some of those


issues with the BBC's editor of political news Katy Searle who's


in our Westminster studio. Katy, let's start with


the allegations of bias, mostly claiming that the BBC has


an anti-Corbyn bias You've seen the examples that


viewers have raised. We have very strong and clear


guidelines that we follow, editorial guidelines, and they're


in line with the Ofcom code of conduct as well,


which show that we have strict rules period and to reflect all parties'


positions and policies. And that's something


we do absolutely and we Labour supporters are


complaining that too much coverage is


attacking the party. Tory supporters are saying Labour


get more air time, so how is BBC News approaching that whole


issue of balance and fairness? What we have to do


is take our editorial judgments and that's always


going to have to guide our coverage. And that's why programme


editors across the BBC and correspondents on air,


as well as Laura, the political editor, have long and careful


discussions about what stories we're going to cover, what are the values


in the news terms of those stories, and then how do they fit in line


with the guidelines that I've just What's noticeable already in this


election campaign is that perceived errors, and indeed


some factual ones, amplified on social media when people


try to build a campaign around them saying, look,


the BBC's being unfair. How should the BBC deal


with those examples? Look, we're all human,


we do make mistakes. Look, you know, we're


working to tight deadlines with lots of information


coming in all the time In those circumstances you just have


to look and see where you can correct it as


quickly as possible. And just on the detail I think


it's worth adding that sometimes graphics actually


can not be as clear. You are trying to sum up quite


a lot of detail in one simple picture of


numbers and figures. What we need to do is be very clear


that our scripting goes around that and tells


the full story. We have seen a particularly vocal


campaign online against Laura Kuenssberg alleging


anti-Labour bias. Laura Kuenssberg is a first-class


political editor who has worked incredibly hard


to get her job right. Laura does the daily analysis


of all of the political parties and, of course, no personal views


are reflected in any sense on any party, and that's true not just


of Laura but across the BBC. So Laura's doing her job and she's


doing that brilliantly. More broadly, though,


viewers do complain that there's too much personal commentary


from political correspondents who are kind of filling airtime


and it is not fact-based, Wouldn't the BBC be better,


as at least one of our viewers has suggested, just sticking


to factual reporting? Well, I think analysis is really


important actually, as part Certainly in elections,


and as we saw in the referendum last year,


parties and campaigns have their own positions to push


and they will do that And really, an important part


of our job is to try and analyse and say to the viewer,


well, on balance this That's why we have very experienced


people from Laura down across the BBC working on that


and trying to give the audience something that means something


and not just slogans and numbers. We have to talk about vox pops


because they come up every election and the charge is two things,


one is if they are too gimmicky you're not going to get much


of an answer if people But also that they're not informed


and are representative, and shouldn't the BBC be more


careful about using them? -- But also that they're not


informed and are not representative, and shouldn't the BBC be more


careful about using them? Yeah, vox pops are tricky actually


because I have a bit of However, if we're doing


a lot of politicians, and we are at the moment, and it's


a very formalised way of presenting their views and opinions, I think


vox pops gives us a bit of colour. It also does the most important


thing which is to reflect the And in this campaign which goes


on for several weeks we want to hear from our audience


as well and try and, if you like, Vox pop is an unscientific


way of doing that but it's the best way that we


can do when we're dealing with tight Away from the cut and thrust


of the election but not entirely unconnected to it was


the coverage of last Friday's cyber-attack which use ransomware


to lock files in 150 different countries demanding


payment to allow access. Some viewers were unhappy


with the way the story was reported and one of them Alex McGill recorded


this video to explain why. Clearly the real story


was that businesses large and small across the world had


been attacked and damaged done. But from the initial reports one


could easily have concluded that This unbalanced reporting


is particularly bad in the middle of an election campaign and can only


heighten the perception of editorial Finally, the Moors murderer


Ian Brady died on Tuesday. The 79-year-old had


tortured and killed five children in the 1960s with his


partner Myra Hindley and buried them Some viewers objected


to the prominence given to the news. Why was it necessary for it to be


in the number one spot, to have so much time given to this story,


for the BBC to then try and find people that they could


interview on this story? By doing this all they were actually


doing was causing yet more distress to the families


of these children, who have to live with


this day in day out This could have been dealt


with with a simple one-liner Thank you for all your


comments this week. If you want to share your opinions


on BBC News and current affairs, you can call us on 0370 010 6676, or


e-mail [email protected] You can find us on Twitter


@NewswatchBBC, and do The address for that is


bbc.co.uk/newswatch. We'll be back to hear


your thoughts about BBC


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