While watching this week's Newswatch I was struck by how many times the phrase "the Prophet Muhammad" was used during the programme's first couple of minutes. Samira Ahmed said it twice and so, in a clip from a BBC report, did BBC reporter Hugh Schofield:
There is, of course, the famous cartoon on the front page of the Prophet Muhammad. On the inside there are no other cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.
Others have noted this strange and pervasive submission to Muslim sensibilities before. They've sometimes contrasted it with the fact that you never hear a BBC current affairs presenter/reporter using the term "the Lord Jesus Christ" (or even "Jesus Christ") when referring to Jesus.
When the BBC's Controller of Daily News Programmes, Gavin Allen, appeared, however, he resolutely used the term "Muhammad" (three times). Samira Ahmed then picked up on that and did so herself.
Hopefully, Mr Allen will make it clear to BBC reporters that once they've established that the Mohammed being referred to is the Muslim prophet Muhammad they ought to refer to Muhammad as "Muhammad", lest they be seen to be advancing a form of Islamic piety.
Of the viewer emails about showing/not showing the front cover of Charlie Hebdo, Newswatch went straight for the 'we get complaints from both sides' angle. One viewer complained that the BBC was engaged in "abject gutless capitulation to the terrorists" by not showing the image while another complained that the BBC was showing "appalling judgement, given the tensions in our multicultural society" by showing the image.
Where the balance of those emails lay (50/50? 72/28? 98/2?), who knows?
The other two viewer emails complained that the BBC was giving too much coverage to the Paris massacres because (1) these "plonkers" (i.e. the jihadi murderers) want publicity and this kind of extensive coverage gives them what they want and (2) because the BBC should have given equal weight to the massacre of huge numbers of people at the hands of Islamists in Nigeria.
The latter complaint ended with the suggestion that the BBC seems to value European lives over African lives - i.e. implying racism on the BBC's part.
Samira Ahmed did her usual good job, putting decent questions to Gavin Allen. He, of course, maintained that the BBC has got its coverage about right.
His reply on the Nigeria question, therefore, was to deny all charges. His point was that there's a clear difference between the "availability" of news in Paris and in Nigeria. Northern Nigeria is remote and "incredibly dangerous".
This is a familiar point. It's why the deadliest war since the end of World War Two - the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo was staggeringly under-reported. Usually just a BBC Africa correspondent would be dealing with it. Occasionally, a bigger BBC name would arrive to do a few reports. Rarely, a BBC star reporter would turn up and make a big thing of the story for a day or two. Over 5 million dead, and yet most BBC viewers know little about it.
It's also why conflicts where the news is always "available" and journalists do feel safe - like in Israel and Gaza - get massively disproportionate coverage. This summer's conflict was surely the ultimate example of how hordes of BBC reporters, including the 'big beasts' of BBC broadcasting, rush en masse to a safe conflict. (There were, by my reckoning, getting on for two dozen BBC people shipped in for that.)
It's an imbalance the BBC clearly needs to keep working on - keep safe, but find ways to report the big stories from unsafe conflicts, and get a proper sense of proportion into their coverage of world affairs.
The programme also touched on the Till Willcox affair.
And 'touched on' is the right way of putting it...
It was a short clip, one viewer email criticising Tim Willcox and the BBC's standard reply saying he's apologised, he did nothing wrong and he meant no offence.
Finally, and for no apparent reason other than that they found it funny - oh, yes, and that it's a dig at UKIP...mention of the controversy over the party leader election debates brought a gratuitous clip of the Pub Landlord Al Murray's party election broadcast for FUKP. The Pub Landlord is standing against Nigel Farage, of course.
Maybe a stiff email to Newswatch is in order about that.