That BBC/Guardian thing again

Earlier this year we learned that the BBC was helping the Guardian produce its front-page scoops. An interesting series of tweets from yesterday shows that the licence payer is also subsidising technological advice to our national broadcaster’s favourite newspaper.

Here’s the head of all things digital and interactive at BBC Radio 5 Live, Brett Spencer:

A good morning spent hammering out our big interactive general election offering. Off now to do a bit of show and tell at the Guardian

The natural first port of call following a morning’s discussion of election coverage.

The Guardian’s Matt Hall was grateful for the BBC employee’s time:

Great presentation from @brettsr on #fivelive visualisation . He even came over to Guardian Towers to do it!

The editor of the Radio 4 blog Steve Bowbrick was there too:

Just grabbed a coffee with @bowbrick in the Guardian canteen. Talking blogs, governors, twitter & the like.

The Guardian’s head of audio Matthew Wells:

Great presentation about BBC 5 Live interactivity from @brettsr – Gdn can only afford a fraction of what they do, but will take inspiration.

A question from “medluv“:

@MatthewWells Did Guardian pay BBC industry rates for R5L presentation today?

The reply from Wells:

@medluv @brettsr no we didn’t pay. Equally my colleagues and I do similar talks at other organisations. It’s called collaboration

Are these licence fee funded presentations available to all newspapers, or just the BBC’s ideological soul mates?

Younge Americans

In September, when US-based left-wing Guardian columnist Gary Younge popped up as a bona fide voice of the BBC on From Our Own Correspondent, I pointed out that he had recently described followers of the Tea Party movement as “(a)nnoying, bizarre, incoherent, divisive, intolerant, small-minded, misinformed, ill informed and disinformed…” In other words, just the sort of prejudice against the American right which finds favour at the Beeb. I noted also the irony of a Guardian/BBC journalist accusing others of living “in a politically parallel world where everyone they know believes the same as they do.”

We’re in the middle of a mini Obamafest at the moment as the BBC celebrates the first anniversary of The One’s inauguration. To balance the many pro-Obama films and programmes made by adoring fans, the Beeb has commissioned a couple of documentaries about Americans opposed to Obama. Amazingly, this project was given to someone with a sympathetic view of the subject matter.

I’m kidding, of course:

In this two-part documentary, author and journalist Gary Younge tells the story of the other side of the Obama phenomenon; the story of those who say that the Obama presidency is nothing but bad news. Younge asks who these people are who feel they have been marginalised by the Obama revolution. He also asks what they don’t like about him and what Obama could do, if anything, to win them over.
Younge spends 10 days travelling through rural Arkansas and Kentucky, talking to anti-tax protesters, fundamentalist Christians and libertarians, country club members and local dignitaries to find out how they view the last year under Obama and what their hopes and fears are for the coming year.


Here’s BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner on the Phil Williams show (Radio Five Live, 31/12/09) discussing the Guardian’s front page story about Iran’s involvement in the kidnap of Peter Moore and his bodyguards:

“They’ve spent a lot of time and money and given cameras to people going into places that are too dangerous for Western reporters to go to. To some extent we’ve worked with them in the last few weeks trying to stand up or down their claims, and they’ve allowed us to interview, or re-interview, some of the people who they’ve used as sources.”

Does the BBC provide weeks of journalistic assistance to all newspapers seeking to break major stories or is this licence fee funded service available only to the Guardian?

(Happy New Year to all, btw)

Obama Death Poll

The most viewed story on the BBC Americas site on Tuesday was “US probes Obama ‘death’ web poll” about a sick Facebook page asking if Obama should be killed. The story was given prominence on the main pages of the BBC’s News, World and Americas sections. Sky News also covered the story online, albeit with added alarmist undertones about racist protesters which the BBC, to its credit, avoided. However, unlike the BBC, Sky has done a follow up:

US Secret Service agents have revealed a teenager was behind a Facebook survey asking whether President Barack Obama should be assassinated.
The agency says it has spoken to the juvenile and his parents and determined there is no intent to harm the president.

This turn of events can’t be unknown to the BBC, and given the evident interest in the story it seems a strange editorial decision not to provide an update explaining that it was just a stupid kid doing a very stupid thing. Why would the BBC not be keen to allay the fears of its readers? Was the bland denouement such a disappointment to BBC journos that not one of them can be bothered reporting on it?

If the BBC does decide to update the story, the following information from Michael Deacon might be worth including:

But try typing “George Bush” and “die” into Facebook’s search engine.
You’ll be hit by a Niagara of groups with titles such as “George W Bush should die”, “I vote that George Bush can die”, “If this group reaches 1,000 [members] then George Bush will die”, “I want George Bush to die”, “Die Bush die”, “George Walker Bush should be killed”, “Will someone please kill George W Bush”…
These groups were there while George W Bush was in office. Eight months after he left, they’re still there.

Also possibly worthy of mention could be this plea for the assassination of George Bush, written in 2004:

The world will endure four more years of idiocy, arrogance and unwarranted bloodshed, with no benevolent deity to watch over and save us. John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr. — where are you now that we need you?

That was Charlie Brooker, Guardian columnist and now, er, BBC TV presenter.


Further to my earlier post about the BBC’s obsession with racism in America, Radio 4’s From Our Own Correspondent (13.20 in) has served up yet another piece on the subject which goes over much of the same ground already covered this week by Mardell, Connolly and Esler. For this one the BBC invited Guardian columnist Gary Younge, the tiresome left-wing race obsessive, to do the honours. (You may recall that Younge’s brother Pat, the new chief creative officer of BBC Vision, recently demanded that TV bosses be sacked if they fail to meet diversity targets. Perhaps they should follow Radio 4’s example and employ members of the Younge family to help tick the boxes.)
Younge went over the Wilson/Thurmond connection for anybody who missed it when Mardell, Connolly, and Esler brought it up. He also took aim at Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Fox News. Pretty much what one would expect from a left-wing commentator like Younge, in fact. In a recent column for The Nation he described the tea party protestors thus:

Annoying, bizarre, incoherent, divisive, intolerant, small-minded, misinformed, ill informed and disinformed… the proportion of the country with whom there is no real means of engagement. These are the birthers, Swiftboaters, climate change skeptics, Obamaphobes and Palin-tologists–the base. They live in a politically parallel world where everyone they know believes the same as they do.

Savour the irony of that last sentence, coming as it does from a left-wing Guardian columnist who has just been employed by the BBC to echo the same views on “racist America” that numerous other BBC correspondents have already expressed. He continues (emphasis added):

They don’t like established facts, so they come armed with their own. The left has such people too, but they are marginal. With no news channels to promote them or Congressmen prepared to advocate for them, their views rarely reach the mainstream.

How about that Bush/Hitler poster in the BBC newsroom? How about MSNBC?

Would a right-wing columnist who made similar observations about loony left supporters of Obama ever be invited to do a piece for From Our Own Correspondent? Has a right-wing columnist ever be asked to do anything on From Our Own Correspondent, full stop?

Another point about Younge’s article in the Nation. He discussed the case of Kenneth Gladney, a tea party protester who was hospitalised after “a fight broke out”. Younge conveniently failed to mention that Gladney was beaten up by pro-Obama thugs from the SEIU. And in an unusual departure for Younge, he also neglected to mention that Kenneth Gladney is black. A left-wing journalist who smears conservatives and plays the race card when it suits but leaves it in the pack when it doesn’t fit his agenda. Just the kind of guy the BBC likes.