Saturday 13 July 2013

Passing the buck?

And the much-coveted Richard Littlejohn Award for Doing Something You Couldn't Make Up goes to... 
...(sound of an envelope being opened)...

...the BBC's Editorial Complaints Unit (ECU).

Here's something from the ECU's wildly popular Corrections and Clarifications website:

Health Check, World Service, 4 October 2012: Finding by the Editorial Complaints Unit
A listener complained that an item on the situation of people with kidney failure in Gaza gave the misleading impression that medical supplies and equipment were subject to the Israeli blockade, and that the item was misleading in other respects.
In most respects the item was not misleading.  However, the sentence “The blockade of Gaza for example has led to shortages of medicines and medical equipment” gave the impression that the Israeli blockade covered medical supplies, which is not the case.
Partly upheld
Further action
In future, when commissioning reports from freelance reporters abroad, Healthcheck will ensure they take advice from the local BBC bureau before finalising the item.

As BBC Watch's Hadar points out, the programme is still available to listen to...

...yet no acknowledgement of the correction and clarification has been appended to its webpage.

What stood out for me though was something Hadar noted, almost in passing:
Of course, all commissioned output is supposed to comply with BBC editorial standards and so the failure to do so in this case can only be attributed to BBC staff, rather than to the freelance reporter who made the programme – especially as the sentence highlighted in the ECU decision above was actually said by the programme’s presenter Claudia Hammond. 
Isn't that remarkable? 

The 'correction and clarification' from the BBC's Editorial Complaints Unit gives its readers to understand that a freelancer was responsible for the sentence in the programme which the ECU found to be in breech of its standards, whereas it was actually the BBC presenter who made the offending comment during her introduction to the freelancer's report. 

Did they make a simple mistake here, or did they do it deliberately - to try to pass the buck away from the BBC?

Either way, it doesn't exactly inspire confidence in the BBC's ECU, does it?

So that's a 'correction and clarification' which itself needs a 'correction and clarification'. 

You couldn't make it up.

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