Tag Archives: BBC

The BNP’s presence on Question Time isn’t worrying, but the fearful response from opposing politicians is.

It is a welcome ruffle of feathers that follows any headline that involves the BNP; a sure-fire way to inspire public interest and debate. This time though, I am somewhat flabbergasted. The news that the Nick Griffin may appear on Question Time has been recieved in a pitifully fearful fashion, particularly by the Labour party.

The party, who have previously had a strict policy against sharing a platform with the BNP, have been shaking their fists at the decision from Auntie following “evidence of electoral support at a national level”.

Firstly, if the BNP’s previous performance in the media is to go by there really is nothing to worry about. Those members of the Labour party scurrying away from the prospect of Griffin’s appearance have clearly not spent much time actually listening to him – and don’t even get me started on their website (in the spirit of shining lights on cockraches I have linked here for educational purposes).

The public can be trusted in their reaction to Griffin.

The public can be trusted in their reaction to Griffin.

The majority of what they say is simply non-sensical and factually laughable. So, it is the fear of other potential panel members that they would not be able to highlight it as such which should send shivers down the spine.

Question Time is the perfect platform, for want of a better word, from which the BNP can display their warts.

The decision to exclude them is bordering on media censorship, damages an intelligent audience’s trust in the programme’s impartiality but also marginalises and victimises the party, which are far more dangerous consequences. More to the point, this restriction clearly hasn’t worked in the past, allowing Griffin and co. to swipe a number of Labour’s northern seats from under their noses and consequently settle their despicable rear-ends in Europe. On one hand a restriction on their presence stinks of totalitarianism, on the other it seems lily-livered and worryingly in their favour.

I am still hopeful that many of the people who voted BNP do not share their most extreme views, views which need highlighting on platforms exactly like Question Time where an informed public audience and opposing political representatives can shine a light on their policies. They have only acheived their recent successes by shrinking underneath public scrutiny and proper interrogation.

A pathetic Labour response has included word that they will not “force” any MP to sit alongside Griffin if they objected. Yes, Griffin might not be your first choice at a candlelit dinner party but it seems to me there are slightly more pressing issues here than the sensitivities of Labour members who may not want to sit next to Griffin on TV. They should be chomping at the bit to attack Griffin’s racist viewpoints.

Luckily, the proposal has also been received warmly by those who see the need for an uncomfortable democratic debate to take place. Iain Dale hit the nail on it’s head on his blog:

“People are elected who we would rather not deal with. Tough. The BBC has done the right thing, and if Labour empty chair the programme, it will say more about them than it can ever do about the loathsome BNP.”

The BNP have sidelined themselves and cried victimisation, fuelling curiosity and opening up opportunities for them to peddle their own interests on street corners with little in the way of scrutiny. It is only with responsible publicity and decent interrogation that their ridiculous and sickening policies will be shown for what they truly are. Allow them to dig their own grave.

Kate Peyton Inquest: How far is too far?

Kate Peyton

Kate Peyton

A number of stories have been scrolling through my Feedreader this evening regarding the inquest into the death of Kate Peyton, a former reporter who was tragically shot while on assignment for the BBC in the Somali capital Mogadishu.

This Guardian article caught my particular attention.

With the clarity of hindsight, it is understandable that the mother of Kate Peyton regrets not talking her daughter out of the trip. However, what concerned me as a journalist is her mothers admissions of what Kate herself said about the trip before leaving: ‘This will prove to them that I am committed’.

Her mother goes further, saying Kate saw a direct link between the trip and ‘her contract’ with the BBC. In addition, the risk assessment form was described as ‘basic’ by a freelance journalist who worked in South Africa with Peyton. I find this shocking considering how dangerous an area she was visiting.

There are always going to be calculated risks when working on projects such as this (not forgetting the thrill of being of the ‘frontline’ itself) but how much responsibility should a paper, or in this case, the BBC, take to ensure the safety of their reporters? It is a practical issue which I currently don’t know a great deal about. Personally, I draw the line at risking my own life for my career, and personal limitations have to be set.

If her mother’s understanding of Peyton’s sentiments is to be believed then I am left with a rather sour taste in my mouth regarding this case. Of course we all want to go that extra mile to be successful, but it is the rationale behind this which concerns me. It is the direct link of the pressure to go on such a dangerous trip with employment contracts, rather than for reporting quality news and journalistic praise that makes me feel uncomfortable.

Am I being naive, do such decisions come down to contracts and paychecks, regardless of consequences?

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The Guardian reports here developments in the inquest. The coroner has stated that Peyton only took the assignment in Somalia because she felt her “job was on the line”.

The BBC say that no career ‘should suffer’ as a result of not taking on assignments, however I can’t see how this can be the case. Technically there should be no negative consequences of turning down a job in terms of contract renewal, to take this specific case, but as a journalist your job is made up from the stories you write. It may often be that by putting yourself in a sticky situation, you are the journalist that gets the scoop, but when do you draw the line between your job, and your life? It is a difficult thing to ask a journalist to do; give up a story, and this is where the pressure lies, as well as from editors and contract writers.

Updated 27 Nov 2008