Sunday 29 October 2017

Ask the audience

Here's one I'm not at all sure about, so what do you reckon (if you don't mind me asking)? 

I'm seeing lots of complaints (from left and right) that the BBC is using loaded language against the Catalans who favour independence from Spain. 

One term that's getting people's goat is "separatists," which some see as a negative term, while others dislike the use of "rebellious", saying it is echoing the language used by the Spanish government and, therefore, not neutral. 

Many also strongly object to the language being used by the BBC about Carles Puigdemont, saying that terms like "ex-leader", "former president of Catalonia" and "sacked" are biased as Mr. Puigdemont is still the leader of Catalonia until the moment he and the Catalan people decide otherwise and that this is the BBC once more parroting Spanish government propaganda (or, if you prefer, echoing the British government's position).

What do you think? Is this loaded pro-Spanish language from the BBC or merely the BBC using language that factually reflects the facts as they are on the ground?


  1. I try to second guess how the BBC might have reported Scottish Independence had their referendum turned out differently. Would they have used any terms such as Separatists or Rebellious? I doubt it.

    Just as with Greece, I sense the heavy hand of the EU behind the scenes. They will not tolerate dissent. 'A local difficulty?'.

  2. Nicola Sturgeon is in a difficult position with regard to Catalonia. Her stance is outlined in the Sunday Express:

    ...The First Minister has been accused of mixed messages on Catalonia as she supports both self-determination and the European Union, which has said will not recognise the region...

    I can't find any comment from NS about Catalonia just yet on the BBC. Their support for her seems to have evaporated since the GE as the BBC doesn't any longer think that she can lend support to Corbyn/Labour London.

  3. It's deliberate I believe. They have made a choice to back the's too dangerous at this point in the Brexit process (which they still are striving to reverse) for them to be critical of the EU, though I think they are conflicted since the BBC has had a long love affair with Catalonia, or at least Barcelona, which in many ways is their sort of town.

    How such policies emerge is an interesting question. Sometimes I expect they emerge as a consensus within the BBC Guardian reading community. Other times, there may be directives from above, probably following meetings of high level executives.

    The BBC aren't stupid. Half of them have been to Oxford or Cambridge. If they wanted to find neutral language, they could. Sky are calling Puidgemont the "disputed leader" of Catalonia, which is a bit weird but better than "sacked" or "former". But worse than the labelling was the BBC's failure (certainly when I looking for info) to explain that Pudigement had stated explicitly that only the Catalan Parliament could dismiss him and clearly he did not accept the dissolution of the Parliament.

    When the BBC reports on such movements elsewhere on the globe it often refers to the leader as "President of the breakaway [insert the entity in question". I would go with "Mr Puidgemont, President of the breakaway Catalan government" Breakaway is a quite neutral word I think, and it clearly implies there is a dispute about the legitimacy of the breaking away.

  4. The reporting of Catalonia is intriguing to watch. The BBC are finding themselves drawn into an even more than usual pro EU stance - distancing themselves from, and no longer having sympathy for the Catalan people.

    This will lead to an ever greater drive to reverse Brexit, siding with the would-be Remain minority - which is ever more anti democratic. We can judge from this, that it is the EU Utopian Dream (as they would have you believe), not the UK public or the UK Government, that is the driving force behind BBC editorial opinion.

    1. How long will it be before the anti Brexit brigade start to draw comparisons between Catalonia, who need to be brought to their senses by a strongly pro EU Spanish Government and Brexit. Can those pesky Leave voters be brought back into EU line - by the power of the EU and their UK sympathisers. Wait for the term separatist being applied to Brexiteers!

  5. It is a separatist movement so there's nothing against calling it that. Presumably the BBC is reflecting the legal and constitutioanal position rather than deciding to reflect the Spanish government's position per se. Not even wee Mrs I hate the Torries declared UDI.

    1. 'wee Mrs I hate the Torries'

      An unforgettable performance in 2015 making up a Shakespearian trio; hugs all round at the end after Miliband was scuppered through her highness highlighting the prospect of a 'led by the nose' Labour government.

      Bullseye; really got the Tories that did.

  6. I read BBC News whilst always thinking about their angle and prejudice so the Catalan story is no different. I know they have their world view and the reader must compensate for it.

    I notice their flag feature completely missed out one frequently seen variety. One for TBBT's Sheldon to explain?

  7. Don't mind at all. Wisdom of crowds and all that.

    Less keen when the BBC punts stuff out though. Mainly because they use it as an unusable way to hide their views behind a supposed question.

    Unless they get the answer they like, any answer would go wherever awkward complaints or FOIs go. And remain their little secret.

    Meanwhile ITV is worrying about crowd sizes, and currently trying to equate a city with an entire country, which seems a stretch at best.

    1. The crowd is being very wise here. They are helping me clarify my thoughts. Thanks to all.

  8. Am I just a cynic, or is the Mark Garnier story really so important that it should take up the leading headline across BBC News output? Or, is it being used, as is customary for the BBC, to deflect attention away from the (tricky to deal with) Catalonia question?


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