The BBC has produced a new comedy which is an absolute roll-on-the-floor, laugh-out-loud side-splitter. It’s called the revised Editorial Guidelines.
Here are some comic highlights.
“In our journalism in particular, we seek to establish the truth and use the highest reporting standards to provide coverage that is fair and accurate… We are impartial, seeking to reflect the views and experiences of our audiences – so that our output as a whole includes a breadth and diversity of opinion and no significant strand of thought is under-represented or omitted. We are independent of outside interests and arrangements that could compromise our editorial integrity…”
Well now, let’s see if we can think of some examples of these stellar BBC journalistic standards, shall we?
How about this morning’s Today programme report on Iran, an item which, despite the tyrannical, belligerent and genocidal character of the regime, was a soft-focus presentation aptly described by Iranian blogger Potkin Azarmehr as “more like a party political broadcast for the Islamic Republic”?
According to a Huffington Post scoop, the BBC agreed to conditions set by the Iranian regime “to not share reporting materials it gathers in Iran with its Persian-language channel, BBC Persian… The agreement was made with the Iranian government in exchange for Iran allowing a BBC correspondent into the country, and, according to emails that HuffPost obtained, it’s not the first time the British broadcaster has agreed to such terms”.
In a statement the BBC said: “All international media are subject to reporting restrictions in Iran. We accepted some limitations on this occasion in order to provide our audiences with rare insights from inside the country and this is signposted in our coverage. As ever, the BBC maintains full editorial control over what we broadcast”.
BBC Persian’s vulnerable staff, however, don’t seem to share such a rosy view.
“In an email sent by a BBC Persian staffer to the entire BBC Persian office in February, provided to HuffPost by one of the recipients, the staffer said, in part, ‘No part of the BBC should allow itself to become an accomplice to the Iranian government’s effort to isolate and punish us.’”
Or in similar vein, how about its smear in 2016 of Nigel Farage over a “racist murder” said to have been inspired by Brexit which turned out to be nothing of the kind, as described here?
Or how about its eye-wateringly hostile coverage of Israel, as is shockingly detailed week in, week out on this indefatigable website?
Or how about its coverage of “climate change”, some of whose eye-watering bias against man-made global warming sceptics was described here, here and here – before the BBC did away completely with any pretence at objectivity or balance, instructing staff: “Be aware of ‘false balance’: as climate change is accepted as happening, you do not need a ‘denier’ to balance the debate.”
But wait: the Editorial Guidelines have a handy get-out clause to allow for precisely such a repudiation of impartiality and fairness by adding:
“Our editorial standards do not require absolute neutrality on every issue…”
So that’s all right then.
In his foreword to the Guidelines Sir David Clementi, the BBC’s chairman, says:
“The BBC exists to deliver high quality content that informs, educates and entertains our audiences. In doing so, nothing is more important than the BBC’s reputation for independence, impartiality and editorial integrity…”
And Tony Hall, the BBC’s Director-General, says: “In a world of misinformation, our values have never been more important. That’s why accuracy, impartiality and fairness are given such prominence in these Guidelines…We’re here to produce programmes of the highest quality; content audiences can trust. And to do so fairly, decently and with all the care people would expect from the BBC”.
Truly, one doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry.