Tuesday 7 April 2015

The BBC and much less than half the story

Some media organisations are more forthcoming with the details of particular stories than others.

The Times report on one of today's main news stories begins like this:
Photo caption: British authorities are understood to believe that both teenagers are now in Syrian territory
The teenage brother of Britain’s youngest convicted terrorist is thought to have fled to Syria in an attempt to reach Islamic State fighters, it emerged last night.
Hassan Munshi, 17, and a close friend are believed to have vanished from the West Yorkshire town of Dewsbury last week, becoming the latest young British Muslims to have left their homes and families for the jihadist insurgency.
His brother, Hammaad Munshi, was 15 when he was arrested by counterterrorism police in 2006 and later convicted over his role in a plot to murder non-Muslims.
The brothers’ grandfather, Yakub Munshi, a revered Islamic scholar in Dewsbury, was the driving force behind the creation of the town’s first Sharia court and is the head of a mosque at which members of the families prayed last night.
The Times article goes on to say: 
Savile Town, the Muslim-dominated enclave in south Dewsbury that was home to both the missing teenagers, has become notorious in recent years for its links to Islamist extremism.
The warren of narrow streets in a loop of the River Calder was home to Mohammad Sidique Khan, leader of the attack on London on July 7, 2005.
Most of its mosques, including Mr Munshi’s, follow the austere Deobandi tradition, which gave birth to the Taliban in Afghanistan and has been described by the author Salman Rushdie as “the most fundamentalist, puritan, rigid, oppressive version of Islam that exists anywhere in the world today”.
Savile Town is also the European headquarters of Tablighi Jamaat, a global Islamic revivalist movement.
West Yorkshire police were asked about the missing teenagers last night but declined to comment. A member of the Munshi family told The Times: “We don’t want to talk.”
The BBC News website's take on the same story is considerably less informative. Here's that article in its entirety:
Photo caption: Police are "extremely concerned" about the two boys 
Two West Yorkshire teenagers are feared to have travelled to Syria, police have said.
The 17-year-old Dewsbury boys are thought to have flown from Manchester to Dalaman in Turkey on 31 March before making their way to Syria.
West Yorkshire Police has been supporting the boys' families and is carrying out inquiries alongside the North East Counter Terrorism Unit.
Assistant Chief Constable Mark Milsom said police were "extremely concerned".
He said: "Our priority is for their safe return. Their families are gravely worried about them and want them home.
"Syria is an extremely dangerous place and the public will be aware of the dangers these boys may face.
"The choice of returning home from Syria is often taken away from those that come under the control of Islamic State, leaving their families in the UK devastated and with very few options to secure their safe return."
Kirklees Council chief executive Adrian Lythgo added: "We are deeply concerned for these young people and will continue to work in close partnership with the Counter Terrorism Unit, West Yorkshire Police, our communities and schools to prevent and eradicate any threats and concerns."
The boys were last seen by their families on the day they are believed to have boarded the Thomas Cook flight to Turkey, West Yorkshire Police said.
A spokesman for Thomas Cook Airlines said: "Whilst we cannot confirm the names of any of our passengers who travel with us, we can reassure all our customers that we work closely with all authorities to ensure the safety of our flights in and out of the UK."
Lots of talk of "fears" and "concern" in the BBC account; lots of facts and background detail in the Times' account. The latter seeks to inform its readers; the former seems more concerned not to inform its readers.

I know which I think is the better report.


  1. "BOYS" at 17 years! At that age I had been at work for two years.

  2. As usual the BBC ignoring the elephant in the room. It is as if these could be any "boys" from any part of British society. No context from the BBC at all. And younger "boys" were fighting in WW1 !

  3. The semantic use of boys to men is another BBC speciality, of course finessed according to what the circumstances are and the narrative dictates.

    A young man, or person does not become a legal adult until 18 (I think... all this messing with consent, votes, military service, etc can mess with what it was... should be).

    However, those ever-unique BBC Editorial Guidelines seem to allow flexibility in interpretation enough that teens at the lower end of the scale can be seasoned veterans deserving of all coming to them if not in favoured demographic camps, or delicate, innocent angels society has failed even at 19.

  4. Yep, BBC view is that people at 16 are definitely old enough to weigh up the competing promises of the political parties and decide how to vote but not old enough at 17 to resist the advances of such a nasty, bloodthirsty state as the Islamic State (unless of course it's Naaazzziis, in which case they are expected to resist totalitarian propaganda).

  5. I wondered how the BBC would describe the despicable killers of Stephen Lawrence. Desribed as "men" throughout, despite being legally juvenile in at least one case at the time of the offence!


    Why the double standard? Anyone who knowingly signs up for murderous action - directly or in a supporting role - at any age above the age of criminal responsibility has to answer for their actions. It would be extremely difficult for anyone aged 14 or over in our society who has access to the internet to claim they were ignorant of what IS does.


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