Sunday 13 May 2018

Addendum to the Open Thread

Following up on comments on the Open Thread about the BBC's reporting of the latest Islamic terror attack in Paris...

Checking Newssniffer (and converting from UTC to BST): 

The BBC News website first reported the attack at 21:05 last night, saying "The motive for the attack was not immediately known". 

At 22:15, they added "French police warned the public not to spread rumours".

At 23:25 they dropped ""The motive for the attack was not immediately known" and added "Witnesses say they heard him shout 'Allah Akbar'". 

At 00:35 they dropped "French police warned the public not to spread rumours".

As for BBC TV...

Last night' s BBC One News bulletin (23:50), which featured it as its third story, reported it like this:
Police in Paris say a man has stabbed several people, killing one person and injuring others, before being shot dead by security forces. President Emmanuel Macron praised the efforts of the police who he said had tackled the terrorist. Andy Moore has the latest.
The immediate aftermath of the attack. One person lies motionless on the ground, others flee in terror. There was panic as people ran inside cafes and restaurants for safety. Police in Paris were already on a high state of alert. Their response was swift. The knifeman was reportedly tasered by police before finally being shot dead. Witnesses said he was shouting, "Allahu Akbar" - 'God is great'. This woman said she was having a drink with friends, when she heard "boom boom", which she thought were gunshots. She got closer and saw a man lying on the floor. Counterterror police are leading the investigation. The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility. Police said five people were attacked. One was killed, two were seriously injured, and two others slightly wounded. Andy Moore, BBC News. 
Using TV Eyes, the attacker's use of "Allahu Akbar" was thereafter mentioned once or twice each hour overnight and then once each hour during this morning's Breakfast. It wasn't mentioned, however, in The Andrew Marr Show's brief news bulletin or in The Sunday Politics's brief news bulletin but there have been several further mentions on the BBC News Channel since 9 am. And, like the earlier bulletins, BBC One's early afternoon  bulletin (13:00) didn't mention it:
Police in Paris say a 21-year-old man who killed one person and injured several others in a knife attack last night was on a list of people thought to be a threat to national security. So-called Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack by the man who police say is a French citizen born in Chechnya.
P.S. On BBC TV the phrase "Allahu Akbar" has been consistently translated as meaning 'God is great'. The latest BBC News website report on the story, however, translates it as meaning 'God is greatest'.


  1. Thanks Craig - a very helpful summary of how the BBC dealt with the story.

    My thoughts:

    1. A couple of years ago, the BBC would often completely omit mention of the Allahu Akbar cry. It now appears they are prepared to do so, albeit not as early in the life of a story as other agencies. However, some smidgeon of progress I suppose (a bit like their recent admissions that groups like Hamas actually do want to remove the Jewish state of Israel - something they used to avoid).

    2. Personally I think this could be a matter of life and death and the BBC has a duty, particularly to any UK tourists in Paris (or wherever an attack is taking place),to make clear an attack is likely a terrorist attack when there are such signs, because that will put them on alert (they may decide to stay in their hotel and check the news for instance).

    3. In order to fulfil their duty under 2, they need to report such matters as soon as possible, not as late as possible. They don't need to commit to the accuracy themselves - they can simply report something like "French Radio Stations are reporting the man cried Allahu Akbar as he carried out the attack". They should then contextualise what that implies. For example: "This a battle cry used by Muslims in Jihad attacks throughout history and is often associated with terrorist attacks in urban centres in Europe."

    4. There is absolutely no need for the BBC, not a French news agency, to pass on the French Police's Orwellian pronouncements on rumour-mongering.

  2. Often, the BBC overnight/early morning news gets kicked into the long grass by breakfast time. I think it's because the day shift arrives and tears up the scripts before stamping their authority upon proceedings. There will be no question of the elite having to work unsociable hours.


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