BBC Current Affairs Programmes failing to address radical Islam

The BBC is failing to address the “awesomely difficult questions” facing Britain, including the economy and the threat of radical Islam, according to the corporation’s former chief.
The BBC is failing to address the “awesomely difficult questions” facing Britain, including the economy and the threat of radical Islam, according to the corporation’s former chief.

The BBC is failing to address the “awesomely difficult questions” facing Britain, including the economy and the threat of radical Islam, according to the corporation’s former chief.

John Birt, director-general of the BBC from 1992-2000, said its current affairs analysis was falling short. He was not referring to Newsnight, which he described as “a programme of the day, about issues of the moment.” But he said he was “talking about a much more strategic need on all the big questions we face. Every economy bar one in the G7 is more productive than the UK – these are the big issues that go undiscussed,” he told a media conference at London’s City University.

Digital journalism is giving people access to more information than before. “What it is not creating is more quality journalism,” Lord Birt said. “We get more knowledge of things happening around the world but pulling it all together and addressing the big policy questions – what should we be doing in respect of radical Islam, the National Health Service – that’s what we’re not doing very well and nobody’s doing very much.”

He added that the BBC must “get back to those very high purposes which are appropriate to a publicly funded broadcaster”.

 

 

CNN’s Stelter: Media May Have ‘Overreacted’ to Boston Bombing, Cites ‘Low Number of Deaths and Injuries’

December 29, 2013

By Tommy Christopher

 

During another of the incessant end-of-year recap segments on cable TV these days, CNN Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter delivered what he felt would be “an unpopular opinion” to CNN Newsroom host Carol Costello Friday. In a discussion of the media’s coverage of the Boston Marathon Bombing, Stelter said “I wonder if there was an overreaction in the press, considering the relatively low number of deaths and injuries.”

The segment was pegged to partisan bias, with Newsmax‘s Steve Malzberg arguing that the media tried to downplay the involvement of radical Islam as motive, and Media MattersEric Boehlert reminding the panel of the rush to judgment that caused innocent people to be smeared in the press by the likes of the New York Post and Glenn Beck. Stelter, though, ventured far afield of the premise to offer what he acknowledged “might be an unpopular opinion.”

“I wonder if the press, overall, in retrospect, overreacted to the attacks in Boston,” Stelter said. “It was a very scary week. I was scared, along with the rest of the country. In retrospect, I wonder if there was an overreaction in the press, considering the relatively low number of deaths and injuries, whether it was taken out of proportion, given all the other violence we see all the time.”

He concluded, “Because the word ‘terrorism’ was applied, I think there may have been an overreaction.”

Where this segment, and media criticism in general, goes wrong is in focusing on the “bias” angle, instead of on the more serious problem of just plain bad reporting. In an act of pure generosity, none of the panelists brought up CNN’s own disastrous reporting of a “dark-skinned” suspect with “brown skin” who was definitely in custody, until he wasn’t.

Partisan bias is an interesting topic, but it shouldn’t eclipse the reason journalism is supposed to exist in the first place: to truthfully inform the public, in the public’s interest. The Boston Marathon Bombing, and this segment in particular, prove that the “view from nowhere” can be as toxic to the truth as anything else.

 

Mediaite.com: http://www.mediaite.com/tv/cnns-stelter-media-may-have-overreacted-to-boston-bombing-cites-low-number-of-deaths-and-injuries/

Behind Rolling Stone’s Cover, a Story Worth Reading

Of all the outraged responses to the Rolling Stone cover of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the 19-year-old suspect in the Boston marathon bombings, those from Boston were particularly acute. Mayor Thomas Menino wrote a letter of protest to Rolling Stone and several retailers with Boston ties said they would not sell the controversial issue.

And then on Thursday, Boston Magazine responded to Rolling Stone’s editorial decision with one of its own, publishing photos of the manhunt and arrest of Mr. Tsarnaev. The images were taken by Sgt. Sean Murphy, a photographer with the Massachusetts State Police who was described as “furious” about the Rolling Stone cover and accused the magazine of “glamorizing the face of terror.”

His protest, which included graphic photos of Mr. Tsarnaev during his capture, ended up creating a controversy of its own. According to Boston Magazine, Sergeant Murphy was relieved of duty just hours after he turned over hundreds of photos to the magazine.

Mr. Murphy’s actions may have put him in hot water at work, but it is not hard to understand the emotions that drove his decision. News developments, and the way they are presented in the news media, always fall harder on some than others, especially victims, families of victims and first responders.

Part of the mass umbrage would seem to stem from a misunderstanding of the magazine and its cover. From the very beginning, Rolling Stone has seen long-form journalism as part of its mission, and more recently has proven its journalistic chops with important stories about Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal and the so-called vampire squids of Goldman Sachs. Those were good, important stories and while the profile about Mr. Tsarnaev did not break a lot of new ground, it did an excellent job of explaining how someone who looked like the kid next door radicalized in place and, according to the federal charges, decided to attack innocents to make a political point. There is civic and journalistic value in finding out more about who this person is, and if the cover created in-bound interest, that would seem to be to the good.

Still, many piled on, accusing Rolling Stone of a cynical play for attention while they sought some of the same in their reaction. The actor James Woods, among others, found himself on the moral high ground, issuing a profane and personal rebuke to Jann Wenner, the owner and publisher of Rolling Stone.

Rolling Stone Tsarnaev cover draws outrage

The cover of Rolling Stone’s Aug. 1 edition features a photograph of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing in April. Many have responded angrily to the magazine’s treatment of Tsarnaev’s image:

Rolling Stone editors said in a statement that the story falls within the traditions of journalism and the magazine’s commitment to serious and thoughtful coverage.

“The fact that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is young, and in the same age group as many of our readers, makes it all the more important for us to examine the complexities of this issue and gain a more complete understanding of how a tragedy like this happens,” the statement said.

AP wins Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting on NYPD surveillance

Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman, Chris Hawley and Eileen Sullivan of The Associated Press today were named winners of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting for their months-long series outlining the New York Police Department’s surveillance of minority and particularly Muslim neighborhoods since the 9/11 terror attacks.

In addition, the AP had finalists in two other Pulitzer categories, Feature Photography and National Reporting.

The Pulitzer Prizes are the most prestigious honors in journalism.

The NYPD stories revealed that the department had become one of the nation’s most aggressive domestic intelligence agencies, sending undercover officers into minority neighborhoods, student groups and houses of worship, though there was no indication they harbored criminals or terrorists.

In documenting the extent of the NYPD’s undercover operations, conducted with the advice and guidance of the CIA, the AP team’s stories ignited ongoing debate in the halls of government, in the ethnic communities, on editorial pages and across the Web.

Wearing your Weapon

26 October 2010

Media commentator Rainer Stadler reminds us in this piece that migration, Islam, violence and criminality have become the daily bread and butter for the media. Whether concerning Tony Blair’s former sister-in-law, recently converted to Islam, or the ubiquitous claims of “failed integration,” the Swiss tabloid press has become more aggressive with regard to the political questions involving foreigners.
The right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP) has recently come up with another trick: while rejecting the notion that talk show journalism has a significant effect on public debate on Tele Züri, politician Christoph Mörgeli prominently wore a tie sporting the SVP’s now-famous sheep placard (showing a black sheep getting literally kicked out of a Switzerland populated by white sheep).

Free riding with Islam Critics

28 September 2010
An old journalistic adage says: “sex sells.” These days, however, whether it’s minarets, headscarves or the Qur’an, it seems it is Islam that sells. Nonetheless, the recent news of a minaret going up in Langenthal has been handled responsibly by the press, and the picture used in most cases clearly shows the diminutive dimensions of the proposed minaret.
Only the newspaper Blick has taken a different course: while using pictures overexaggerating the size of the minaret, they have also characterized a recent decision allowing veils in the school community of Bad Ragaz as a “further triumph for the Muslims!” It is precisely this kind of journalism which promotes the media careers of extremists like the recent American pastor who threatened to burn the Qur’an: without the media’s spotlights there would not have even been a problem.

Opinion column points to power of Quebec media in niqab debate

Toronto Star columnist Chantal Hébert claims that the newspapers in Québec have a profound role in shaping the current niqab debate. She argues that by the sheer nature of its size and its relative homogeneity, francophone Quebec is home to a journalism of proximity that translates into a capacity to mobilize public opinion in ways unparalleled anywhere else in Canada. Gérard Bouchard – who co-chaired the recent Quebec commission on the so-called reasonable accommodation of cultural and religious minorities – has also often criticized the media for setting off that discussion on unduly inflammatory terms.

Hébert claims that if anything fuels the high level of support of the proposed Bill 94, it is certainly not populist empathy with Quebec but rather the post-9/11 environment and – more specifically – much of the media and political narratives on Afghanistan. It is impossible for media and politicians alike to spend the better part of half a decade advancing the notion that one is sacrificing Canadian lives to give women and girls a fairer shot at equality in Afghanistan – routinely using the burqa and the niqab as code images for oppression – and not expect a significant number of voters to want their place (or non-place) in Canada’s public arena addressed in no clear and decisive terms.

Politiken journalists reject prophet drawing apology

The Danish newspaper Politiken, which has around 200 staff members, on February 26 apologized for offending Muslims with the 2008 reprint but did not apologize for reprinting the cartoon.

Thirty-eight staff members of Politiken issued a letter on Saturday March 6 saying they are against the newspaper’s apology for offending Muslims by reprinting a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad with a bomb-shaped turban.

In a letter published in the newspaper, the editorial staff said “Politiken has nothing to apologize for.”

“The settlement gives the impression that we regret our journalism, something there is no basis for whatsoever,” they wrote, saying democratic journalism entails “describing reality as precisely as possible and to encourage social debate.” They also said they fear the settlement could interfere with their editorial freedom.

Article analyzes coverage of Fort Hood killings

Reporting tactics may either deliberately overstate or understate the Muslim identity of the man who opened fire at Fort Hood on November 5. This article compares American and Arabic coverage of the incident, stating that American coverage identifies him with Muslims and Islam, while Arabic coverage places it within the context of violent crime in America.