Sunday 7 April 2019

Two takes

Mishal tonight, looking stern

Obviously, given what I've written today, I was duty bound to watch tonight's BBC Weekend News on BBC One in order to monitor how they reported the Labour antisemitism story. 

Well, they gave it 15 whole seconds.

This is what the BBC newsreader read out, in its entirety: 
The Jewish Labour Movement has passed a vote of no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn's leadership. The group said it was because of the party's handling of antisemitism allegations. The shadow Attorney General Baroness Chakrabarti had called on the group not to personalise the issue. 
So, one side did something and then "said" something about some "allegations" and the other side "called" on the accusers "not to personalise the issue". 

No details, no context, only 'They said this. She said that'.

As I usually do on these occasions, I also checked out ITV's early evening news bulletin. It gave it 37 seconds - not much really, but still much more (over twice as much) as the BBC. 

And how much more information ITV packed in to those 37 seconds than the BBC did in their 15 seconds!

This is what the ITV newsreader read out, in its entirety:
The Jewish Labour Movement has passed a vote of no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn over his handling of allegations of antisemitism in the party. The vote was passed overwhelmingly at the group's annual general meeting today. It comes as Labour defended its handling of complaints following reports that the party had failed to take disciplinary action in hundreds of cases. The Sunday Times said it had seen leaked documents showing that the party's system for dealing with complaints had been beset by delays, inaction and interference from the leader's office. Labour said that only selected parts of internal emails had been leaked. 
Devout supporters of Mr. Corbyn might well complain that ITV didn't give the case for the defence its due (just 12 words at the end of the report), but at least ITV gave its viewers enough information for the story to make sense to anyone watching, especially anyone who was new to it - something that can't be said of the BBC's report. 

Doing this kind of comparison shows once more just how differently media outlets can treat the same story.

For me ITV did it right and the BBC did it wrong.

But that's not the point. The point is that they did it differently, and that one (the BBC) was much more helpful to Jeremy Corbyn's Labour than the other (ITV) - something I don't think can reasonably be disputed, whether either broadcaster meant it or not.

Did they mean it?


  1. I wonder how much the presenter gets to edit the content? As trained journalists I suspect they get quite a bit of leeway to ensure they are comfortable with what they have to speak.

    Michel isn’t backwards when coming forward with her favoured topics and it might explain the brevity.

  2. The BBC's report is very bare and doesn't mention The Sunday Times report but ITV does. I wasn't clear whether they were connected or not or how, so took a look at Sky News which has much more detail about the sequence of events. The vote took place at the Jewish Labour group's AGM but before it did, Chakrabarti had made a plea to the group not to personalise it. But the rest of what Sky reports her to have said is startling, coming from a supposed trusty Corbyn lieutenant:
    'Speaking before the vote, shadow attorney general Baroness Chakrabarti pleaded with JLM "not to personalise" the issue. The frontbencher, who led a review into antisemitism allegations in the party, told Sky News: "My plea to the Jewish Labour Movement is to stay in the Labour movement and to tackle racism together, not to personalise it and make it about Jeremy Corbyn, because he is one person and he won't be leader forever."
    Good heavens! What is she implying?


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