Tag Archives: austerity

#NoMoreAusterity coverage – a response from the BBC

I have received a reply from the BBC to my complaint, as follows (with my comments inline):

Thanks for contacting us about coverage of the People’s Assembly anti-austerity demonstration on 21 June.

We understand you feel there was insufficient coverage of this demonstration by BBC News.

We have received a wide range of feedback about our coverage of this story. In order to use our TV licence fee resources efficiently, this general response aims to answer the key concerns raised, but we apologise in advance if it doesn’t address your specific points in the manner you would prefer.

Your concerns were raised with senior editorial staff at BBC News who responded as follows:

“We covered this demonstration on the BBC News Channel with five reports throughout Saturday evening, on the BBC News website on Sunday, as well as on social media.”

I kept looking for a report on the BBC News website and their iPhone app throughout the weekend and never saw anything. The BBC did tweet just before 11am on the Sunday, at exactly the same time I was writing my complaint and blog post (having waited, I feel, a very reasonable length of time before doing so). The news report consisted of three short paragraphs, with a link to a video of 24 seconds of footage of random marchers with no commentary and no mention of any speakers, despite these being the usually high-profile Russell Brand as well as an elected member of parliament, Caroline Lucas.

The BBC reply continues:

“We choose which stories we cover based on how newsworthy they are and what else is happening and we didn’t provide extensive coverage because of a number of bigger national and international news stories that day, including the escalating crisis in Iraq, British citizens fighting in Syria and the death of Gerry Conlon.”

Also reported extensively that day was a fire in a retailer’s warehouse in which nobody was hurt, as well as a story about a man who tried to grab the Queen’s baton. Both “bigger national and international news stories” I’m sure.

The point here is that nobody is expecting the BBC to prioritise a peaceful march (even one by 50,000 people) over the stories about Iraq and Syria they cite above, but to include it as part of their normal news coverage on the website and the app. In the old days (i.e. before the Internet), TV and radio programmes were the BBC’s only news outlets, and those bulletins obviously had a time-limit (and still do, 24-hour rolling news channels notwithstanding). A website and app however can contain and feature as much content as they want it to, and can be updated whenever they like as news changes. The story about the march was plainly buried on both platforms.

“We frequently report on the UK economy and what it means for the British public. We also reflect the concerns of people such as those demonstrating, and others who hold opposing views, across our daily news output on TV, radio as well as online, and we also explore them in more depth including in our political programming and current affairs investigations, debates on ‘Question Time’ and during interviews and analysis on programmes such as ‘PM’ and ‘Newsnight’.

Ooh, sounding a tad defensive there. I wonder why?

“Inevitably, there may be disagreements over the level of prominence we give to stories, but we believe our coverage of this subject has been fair and impartial.”

Dear BBC. Please don’t patronise me. During the European elections all Nigel Farage had to do was fart and the BBC News app was updated to inform us within seconds. We all know you have an agenda. Or are you trying to tell me that it’s purely a coincidence that your new head of press and media relations, who starts in post next month, used to work for the Department for Work & Pensions?

My complaint to the BBC about lack of coverage of #NoMoreAusterity

I have just submitted the following complaint to the BBC:

I was shocked and disappointed not to see any coverage on your news website or iPhone news app either yesterday or so far today about the “No More Austerity” march in central London yesterday. An estimated 50,000 people attended the march which was addressed by people including Caroline Lucas MP and TV personality Russell Brand. The crowd were protesting peacefully against the government’s relentless austerity measures and its dire effects on public services and the poor and vulnerable in society. In the afternoon yesterday, Russia Today reported on the march. Later in the evening the Guardian reported on it.  Members of your news staff on Twitter such as @jameshardy61, @tobycastle and @charlierose1 had not tweeted about it despite (re)tweeting other news items in the previous few hours, and did not reply to my tweets asking why this was. This lack of coverage of a large protest is craven to the government and as such a complete betrayal of your values as a public service broadcaster. BBC current affairs has become the shame of a once-great broadcasting service. I await your explanation of the reasons for the lack of coverage with great interest.

Send your own complaint here.

Chelsey: Everything that’s right about this country

This week’s episode of 24 Hours in A&E had me in tears. Honestly, who would want to do a job in the NHS, especially with the dwindling resources they’re given? People who give a shit about people, that’s who. The entire programme is worth watching for the expertise of the staff and the tenderness shown by people toward each other, but there’s one particular section which cut right to the bone, starting at 35:04. The clip below should start there, but if it doesn’t, and you’ve only got a few minutes, skip to it. It’s worth sitting through four crappy adverts for. It’s a three-minute section in which an ordinary teenage girl called Chelsey is waiting in A&E and spots an old man waiting for treatment. He reminds her of her grandad, who she quit college to care for. He died of a stroke and she not only misses him, she misses caring for him. This is the sort of person that I think is the real essence of this country and who gives me hope that this crappy society, this appalling selfish austerity regime we’re currently living through, isn’t all there is. Chelsey has more humanity and compassion in her little finger than the David Camerons and George Osbornes and Iain Duncan Smiths and, especially, the Jeremy Hunts who – self-appointedly, self-righteously, without mandate – run this place have, or will ever have, in their entire pathetic, shitty, self-serving, privileged, posturing bodies. And I don’t mind them knowing it.

And yes I am also a bit in love with Chelsey, but anyone with a heart who watched that programme would be too.

(Badge of the day will be back soon…)