Tuesday 1 March 2016

Women and children first

Last night's BBC News at Six really took the biscuit.

They could have reported the violence in Calais and on the Greek-Macedonian border in a neutral fashion, but didn't. 

On the Greek-Macedonian border, a largish group of migrants smashed down part of the border fence, defended by a small number of Macedonian police. Stones were thrown in one direction, tear gas in the other. In Calais, the authorities' softly-softly approach to clearing 'the Jungle' was thwarted and stones being flying in one direction, water cannon in the other - and it's widely reported that far-left activists led the violence. 

Here, however, is how the BBC News at Six began reporting the story last night, with the emphasis being on violence from the authorities: 
George Alagiah: Europe's migrant crisis turns violent. Security forces resort to harsher tactics. Hundreds of refugees are tear-gassed as they crash through the Greek border into Macedonia.
Migrant: It's like a disaster, and they don't open the borders, Macedonians, they don't open the borders, and people are coming more and more.
George Alagiah: And in Calais more clashes as the authorities try to clear parts of the refugee camp known as 'The Jungle'. We'll be asking what these flashpoints mean for Europe's politicians.
And then backdrop to the newsreader showed three panels: one showing the police fully 'tooled-up' and taking action, the other two showing nothing but women and young children:

Danny Savage's report from the Greek-Macedonia border - and his later discussion with George Alagiah - laid particular emphasis on the effects of the Macedonian police tear gas on migrant children:
Today on a European border children were tear-gassed.
At no point did the BBC reporter even so much as hint that those aggressive migrant men smashing their way into Macedonia, throwing stones at the Macedonian police, should have perhaps made some effort to keep these young children out of harm's way. 

And the closing image of his report lingered on the 'Madonna and child'-like image of a smiling young woman and her sweet, sleeping baby:

...as Danny Savage talked of "growing desperation on this European frontier".

In another passage from the same report, Danny Savage says "a guard fires tear gas directly at a migrant. On the other side of the fence the man in the blue jacket is hit by that cannister". What he doesn't say is that alert viewers can also see with their very own eyes that the man in the blue jacket is no innocent. He has just been aggressively throwing stones at the Macedonian security forces.

1 comment:

  1. I recall George Alagiah arguing some years ago we should open our borders to all asylum seekers. I couldn't believe someone in such a responsible position would make such an irresponsible suggestion - but now it has become commonplace in the BBC with such egregious examples as Jenny Hill cheerleading illegal migrants into Berlin.


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