Sunday 6 October 2013

The Telegraph declares war on the BBC

For further reading from the Telegraph on the subject of the previous post, there's another detailed article there re-making the case against the BBC over the corporation's 'Ed M v the Mail' coverage:
...a Telegraph analysis has established something of the scale of the airtime given to the issue. In a week which saw the Conservative Party conference, the drowning in the Mediterranean of hundreds of African immigrants, and the shutdown of the US government, the row was the biggest story for the BBC by far.
Some of it repeats the analysis quoted in the last post, but adds:
Zeal for the story does not appear to have been shared by visitors to the site. An analysis of the data available, showed none of the stories about the row had been among the most read on any day last week.
and then goes on to present further evidence:
Perhaps most significantly, our analysis raises questions over who the BBC has interviewed and how they have been presented.
The first person invited to discuss the emerging Daily Mail row on the Today programme – at 7.12am on Wednesday – was Ken Livingstone, the former Labour mayor of London. No opposing view was offered and Mr Livingstone was interviewed later that morning on 5 Live, again without an opposing view.
On Friday, the Today programme invited Tony Benn to discuss the Mail’s approach. In an interview lasting just under five minutes, the former Labour minister said of the original article: “It was done to damage Ed’s prospects of winning public support and I think damage the whole political process.”
Again, no other views were presented. Justin Webb, the presenter, later appeared to imply that Mr Miliband deserved an apology for the Mail’s article about his late father. “Still no apology, still no truce,” said the presenter, as he introduced Today’s main segment on the story at 8.15am.
This time, the programme did have a representative from the Mail, Alex Brummer, its City editor, but the other guest was Lord Glasman.
Although it was said that he was there to “give his analysis”, he was in fact fiercely critical of the Mail. Our analysis has also raised questions over whether it was made clear that two interviewees speaking out against the newspaper were supporters of a group campaigning for state regulation of the press.
The Six O’Clock News on Friday interviewed Christopher Jefferies, who won damages from national newspapers, including the Mail, over false allegations made about him during the investigation into the murder of Joanna Yeates.
Last month Mr Jefferies signed a letter from Hacked Off to David Cameron urging him to reject newspapers’ plans for a new non-statutory regulator. On Friday Mr Jefferies praised Mr Miliband for the “highly principled stance” he had taken on press regulation, but viewers were not told of his support for Hacked Off.
The Ten O’Clock News interviewed Baroness Hollins, the mother of Abigail Witchalls, who was stabbed and left paralysed in 2005, but it did not highlight that she signed the same letter. The bulletin only said she “wants reform” of newspaper regulation, without specifying that she has campaigned for state regulation.
And Newsnight on Tuesday devoted 18 minutes to the story, out of a 48-minute show. It put Jon Steafel, the deputy editor of the Mail, head to head with Alastair Campbell, the former Labour spin doctor. The programme, edited by Ian Katz, until this summer the deputy editor of the Guardian, did not mention that Mr Campbell has been an advocate of statutory regulation.
Earlier, Jeremy Paxman had introduced the show and said: “There is no argument the Mail’s piece was a hatchet job.” The Daily Mail disputes that this was the case.
The topic infected other parts of the corporation’s schedules. At BBC Radio Leeds, the row inspired an hour and a half long phone-in on Wednesday where listeners were urged, “as Ed Miliband defends his father”, to call in with their “tributes to your father or the male influences in your life”. The story also inspired a feature on the World Service.
A segment on Newsround on CBBC told how Mr Miliband’s “dad” had been criticised. The story said Ralph Miliband had come to the UK as a Jewish refugee and fought in the Second World War, but there was no mention of his Marxist views, which is what the original article had been about.
'Feeding frenzy' does appear to be the correct phrase to describe this kind of coverage - the kind the BBC tends to go in for when a media rival gets into trouble (whether that be the News of the World or a presenter on Sky Sports). 

At least the Telegraph is now taking up the fight against BBC bias in earnest. They've been pretty critical for a while, of course, but this seems like a serious step-up in intensity - as if they really do see now that the BBC is growing over-mighty and dangerous.

Another Telegraph article, by Bruce Anderson, also takes up the cudgels and wields them against the mighty BBC:
The BBC has come to loathe those it serves
It has been an interesting week. Syria, the Tory conference, Islamic terrorism in Kenya, Yemen and Nigeria, budget-lock in Washington: the world overflowed with news – but not on the BBC. That once-great news organisation seemed determined to turn every bulletin into a seminar on the life and opinions of Ralph Miliband.
As Lefties would say, there was a sub-text here. The BBC went well beyond objectivity. It was using the Miliband affair to attack its enemies. In so doing, it was also exposing its own cast of mind. 
Where will the Telegraph's joining of the battle against BBC bias lead? 

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