Monday 25 May 2015

"We apologise that this has occurred and risked our organisation being brought into disrepute"

Just an update on a post from last July:

A commenter at Biased-BBC has now posted a reply he received from the BBC World Service's complaints department to a complaint he put in about Naziru Mikailu's tweets (though it's unclear when it was received). It's worth sharing:

Thank you for your email in which highlight a tweet by a member of our staff, Naziru Mikailu, about the Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu in the context of the present escalation of the conflict in the Middle East.
Naziru has contravened the BBC’s Social Media guidelines, which require that our staff – even when using their personal social media accounts – do not compromise the BBC’s editorial guidelines and reputation for impartial, accurate and balanced reporting. While being encouraged to use social media, our staff members are expected to behave in a way that is consistent with the BBC’s editorial values and policies.
That was evidently not the case on this occasion. We apologise that this has occurred and risked our organisation being brought into disrepute. We have arranged for the tweet to be removed and are taking disciplinary action against Naziru Mikailu.
I hope the above goes some way in reassuring you just how seriously the BBC World Service takes its integrity and commitment to accuracy and impartiality at all times, and particularly in regards to conflicts as complex and emotive as the present violence in Israel and Gaza. In that context, and as you yourself claim that the BBC is in general biased against Israel, I’ve added a few links to our recent output and reports about the events in the Middle East, the wider background of the conflict and the profile of Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu… [not included in the original comment]

We have no way of knowing what that disciplinary action involved, of course - and another commenter quipped, 'They probably gave Mr Mikailu what we used to call “a damned good letting off”' - but looking at Naziru's still-busy Twitter feed it's clear that he's no longer tweeting anything remotely controversial. So he does appear to have learned his lesson after all.

Still, that re-statement of the BBC's Social Media Guidelines makes it clear that many of the tweets we've posted here - and that DB has posted at Biased-BBC - must surely be incompatible with the BBC's guidance. 

More complaints to the BBC are needed.


  1. Like the rest of them, he'll be careful for a while. Sooner or later, though, he won't be able to help himself.

    As for the need for more complaints, we have a serious obstacle. Unless a number of different people file individual complaints about Beeboid tweets, it would mean several complaints from one or two people. As we know from Geoff's experience (at B-BBC), in that case they will ban you as a nuisance, regardless of the merits of the complaints. On the other hand, if a number of different people did manage to file individual complaints about Beeboid tweets, they'd probably dismiss all of them as being part of an organized campaign. Again, regardless of the merits.

    It's a very difficult challenge. The only alternative is to make some publication of the entire collection, and tell everybody to check it out. The BBC won't be able to dismiss it out of hand.

    1. Would a separate website just devoted to BBC tweets (maybe entitled "In Their Own Tweets"!) be a starting point?

      If carefully curated and made into a something that reads a bit like a book - complete with chapters - it could be an accessible starting point.

      Just looking back through all the posts we've labeled 'Twitter' here at ITBB...

      ...there's a hell of a lot of damning tweets - and reading it en masse is quite something.

      Add those to everything DB (and occasionally you and me) have ever posted at B-BBC - plus all the Guido stuff, and everything else anywhere in the blogosphere - and it could be an absolutely devastating indictment of BBC bias.

      A link to such a blog could then be endlessly tweeted to (hopefully) interested parties.

    2. Great minds... (well, yours at least as mine was still in process as you hit 'post') :)

    3. I'm not sure another website is the answer here. Posting it all and drawing attention to it will at best generate a few more complaints, at which time the BBC gatekeepers will see the website, and dismiss all further complaints as being part of an organized campaign.

      In order to have any real effect, it needs to be a large salvo, all at once, catching them by surprise. They mustn't have time to delete tweets or send out another memo and build a new line of defense. I might reach out to DB to see what he thinks. It's all inspired by his work anyway. He may want to do it himself.

    4. That's a good idea. He must have a huge archive by now - including things we've not seen. (Following him on Twitter, he doesn't post everything at B-BBC). I suspect he'll be more than happy for it to be a collaborative effort though - whatever form it takes.

    5. I see what you are saying, but for too long the BBC has got away with variations of 'we are running out of ways to dismiss legitimate complaints, so are going full Leopard in the Basement now'. It's not like they are unaware of critics and/or don't have periodic purges and memos to behave anyway, for all the difference they make. Look at Steph. Or Jasmine.

      The logic of them trying, and getting away with the notion that so many are seeing them for what they are it must be a conspiracy and can thus be ignored or banned is nuts. Imagine if a BBC investigation target tried that on them to pull a story; they'd be laughed out of town.

      If you and DB can come up with a better way great, but the chances of organising a single blast that will do any more than tickle the BBC seems optimistic.

      It would need all other media to take note and go large. Not impossible (given the egregious nature of the tweets already captured, and the ongoing 'views my own/RTs not an endorsement' disclaimer screen) but unlikely.

      Certainly those thousand cuts need amalgamating to register as a major impact on the beast.

      I remain of the view that focussed aggregations of purely factual samples of quotes will add up to something very hard to explain away.

      And as more and more people add to it, the harder it will get for them to try and bluff it through. They can delete all they like; the internet never forgets.

      It also acts a reference for those who think they are alone to see what others have found and what can and should be challenged.

      Standing united and saying 'enough' may be just the way to confront such a bully.

  2. "it's unclear when it was received"

    That would be good to know. While by no means unheard of, for the process to take almost a year to get to him being told not to be stupid or get caught for a while would be special even for the BBC.

    But boy, is it proving a rich a seam now.

    As David says, it seems they can't help themselves; almost as if being truly stupid in failing to avoid written evidence of partiality and prejudice is actually hardwired in their DNA.

    That, and the known fact that they control the whole complaints process, so even when caught bang to rights or subject to a lot of complaints about one issue, they can turn logic on its head and pull the 'organised' Rabbit out of the hat to dismiss en bloc.

    This from a corporation (still?) employing one Stuart Hughes who tried to mobilise just such an organised protest via BBC [cough] 'reporting' to put a company out of business. A lot of editorial integrity there to hide behind 'purposes of' exclusions.

    David... it is taking a while, but watch this space on one contribution to the concept of unredacted mass publication of BBC staff 'in their own words'. It's very hard to argue when the ugly words bouncing off the mirror are your own.

    BBBC has let the 'in their own tweets' lie fallow, sadly. It would be worth getting a home of its own for bookmarking.

    Clearly the main lessons being learned at the BBC is talk is cheap as, like an entry in the daily log when caught with their pants down, none of them take it the least bit seriously.

    1. Yes, that BBC reply to Bruce must have come very quickly - soon after the complaint went in (probably in July 2014).

      It was still a very interesting 'share' though. The BBC's official policy on impartiality and social media seems clear but appears to be interpreted very flexibly by BBC staff - i.e. not taken seriously at all.

  3. I note Mikailu's vague 'apology' re Gaza and the lack of an apology for the far worse gloating over Sharon's death and wishing the same on Netanyahu.

    Someone should go undercover at the BBC canteen - or wherever they gather and gloat - and record and broadcast the results.

  4. I feel the comments here miss the point. Even if the journalists adhere scrupulously to the guidelines, their inherent bias will still colour the so-called impartiality of the BBC. Perhaps it would be better to let them reveal their bias on social media and regularly publicise it, making sure that it receives the widest possible publicity to puncture the myth.

    1. Interesting observation and definitely debatable. I imagine that the BBC is deeply in love with social media for a number of reasons, not least the fact that they can block people on Facebook and Twitter - which are ideal forums for the short-attention-span generation.

      Pump out a bit of subtle or not-so-subtle propaganda and if anyone complains just delete it.

      The problem with not challenging their bias directly but just publishing it elsewhere is that they have a tremendous advantage it terms of their worldwide infrastructure and reach, Internet aside.

      It's a seriously unequal struggle.

      Emailing them directly sometimes produces results:

    2. You mean like this?


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