One story prominently featured over the Easter holiday weekend was the leftie march to Aldermaston, including various puff-pieces in advance (i.e. advertising for fellow-travellers).
Monday’s ‘News front page’ featured two links to stories about this relative non-event. The same story is highlighted a day later on the UK news page:
Deep joy indeed. The story, by Hannah Bayman, features interviews with various protestors, Giulia Giglioggi, 11-year old Leela Levitt (from Southampton “pleading with parents Malcolm and Latha”, Daniel Franceschini and Reverend Hazel Barkham.
Knowing the BBC’s rigourous and honest approach, I did a little Googling for these people.
Giulia Giglioggi returns nothing. Google helpfully suggests “Giulia Gigliotti”, from Southampton, who it turns out is a major organiser of such protests (inc. a letter in the Grauniad signed ‘Giulia Gigliotti, Nuclear Information Service’) – all omitted (or simply unseen) by our scrupulous BBC inquisitor. (‘Nuclear Information Service’ turns out to be www.nukeinfo.co.uk – also based in Southampton).
Reverend Hazel Barkham (Google alternative ‘Barking’!) is also, unsurprisingly, a prominent anti-nuclear activist, popping up around the web and around the world.
So, how could our rigourous BBC reporter omit to mention the prominence of these anti-nuclear organisers whilst writing such a happy, nay joyous, report of this traditional outing?
Another spot of Googling, this time for ‘Hannah Bayman’, reveals a number of interesting Hannah Bayman coincidences:
– Revolutionary Communists “Rock around the Blockade at Guantanamo” (in April 2000 no less), inc. Hannah Bayman “I am really interested in the Pioneers and the UJC (Union of Young Communists)” (Link);
– “Operation Desert Rescue – 9.6m children in danger” – list of supporters includes “Hannah Bayman, Southampton, BBC journalist” (Link);
– Socialist Worker 26Apr03 letters page – an angry rant about Iraqi freedom, from Hannah Bayman, Southampton (Link);
– Globalise Resistance “free Nicola and Richard” petition – signed by Hannah Bayman, freelance journalist (Link);
– The Observer 21Jul02 letters page – Hannah Bayman of London N1 writes “People across the world have marched against Israel’s war in Palestine, including 80,000 in London in May, largely ignored by the mainstream British press. In September thousands more are expected to rally in London against the threat of a bloody war in Iraq. In November thousands of activists will converge in Florence for the European Social Forum, a weekend of demonstrations and debate on the future of the anti-capitalist movement.” (Link)
It seems I’m not alone in doubting the objectivity of Ms. Bayman – Robert Hinkley has posted details of his dealings with her here and here. Note also the picture here which is remarkably like the BBC picture here.
For those with long memories, I wonder if the Chris Blake in the first picture is the same as the one interviewed by Hannah for the BBC here. If so, Hannah seems to have a remarkably intimate interviewing technique – too intimate one might think to ensure the impartiality and objectivity that a Beeb-taxpayer might expect from the “World’s premier news broadcaster”, as they term themselves.
Just to be clear, BBC reporters, like everyone else, are entitled to their personal opinions. However, in the interests of transparency, when a reporter interviews a personal acquaintance (in this case Chris Blake, a former comrade on a political magazine “Resist”), it is, at best, a discourtesy to his or her readers not to mention it.