Response from the BBC about lack of coverage of anti-austerity demo

I submitted a complaint on Sunday to the BBC about their lack of coverage of Saturday’s anti-austerity march in London. I think many others (hundreds?) did too. Today I got a response, and I thought I’d stick it up here to see if it’s the same to what others have received:

“We covered this demonstration on the BBC News Channel with five reports throughout Saturday evening, on the BBC News website on Sunday, as well as on social media. We choose which stories we cover based on how newsworthy they are and what else is happening and we didn’t provide extensive coverage because of a number of bigger national and international news stories that day, including the escalating crisis in Iraq, British citizens fighting in Syria and the death of Gerry Conlon. 

We frequently report on the UK economy and what it means for the British public. We also reflect the concerns of people such as those demonstrating, and others who hold opposing views, across our daily news output on TV, radio as well as online, and we also explore them in more depth including in our political programming and current affairs investigations, debates on ‘Question Time’ and during interviews and analysis on programmes such as ‘PM’ and ‘Newsnight’. Inevitably, there may be disagreements over the level of prominence we give to stories, but we believe our coverage of this subject has been fair and impartial.”

So an admission that (by omission) that they didn’t cover the march while it was taking place, and a reference to where they cover dissent elsewhere. What do people think? Convincing? I’ve now decided to complain whenever I see similar instances of bias or omission. I’d urge you to do the same. Hopefully if enough people complain, they will at least take it into consideration when covering (or not) future news stories.

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20 thoughts on “Response from the BBC about lack of coverage of anti-austerity demo

  1. Fundamentally it is time to realise that Marches in London are about as newsworthy as road accident deaths – because they simply aren’t rare or interesting.

    Same old tactics with the same old set of policies saying the same old thing they have for years – often with the same old faces doing the speaking. The New Statesmen article (admittedly written by a Tory) got it bang on: http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2014/06/no-media-didn-t-ignore-your-anti-austerity-march-it-just-wasn-t-interesting

    Marches are irrelevant. If you want to change things you’re going to have to do it Wesleyan style – street corner by street corner guerrilla style. And that means you have to have a message that resonates with the man on the street in small numbers.

    Trying to influence mass media in an era when nobody really watches mass media is just a waste of time.

    1. 50,000 is not a huge number and I agree it’s not a huge story. I think there was enough going on there to warrant at least a couple of cameras and a news reporter. There was a celebrity (Russell Brand), which on it’s own is normally enough, and there were some Labour MPs present. That’s interesting to me i.e. what do they think of Labour;s economic stance etc. They could have also tested the mettle of some of the protestors to see if they understood the issues and had anything to say beyond “tax avoidance”. So, not a lead story, but I don’t think the lack of coverage is explained by “not news” alone.

  2. Personally I am a believer that action rather than words bring about change . So defending the right of peaceful protest & demonstration is vitally important . The 50.000 who attended the Against Austerity march is merely the beginning . The BBC management are the real controlled curse placed upon the people of this island not those who actual work for the BBC under contract.

  3. >> “We covered this demonstration on the BBC News Channel with five reports throughout Saturday evening”

    Did anyone else see any of those reports? Forgive my scepticism, but I haven’t yet heard from anyone that did and I still find it incredible that it didn’t appear on their website until the following day and that even then it was the most sparse report imaginable – with the numbers attending reduced to merely “thousands” in the article heading, and barely any details at all about the protesters or what they were there for. The excuse about bigger news stories just doesn’t hold water here – there are certainly tens, probably hundreds of much smaller stories, covered in far more depth elsewhere on the site!

  4. It was bothersome – especially as the Pro-fox hunting march got extensive coverage despite being far less supported and less newsworthy, but if this wakes people up to the nature of TV news in general, and BBC news in particular so much the better.

    THis is NOTHING compared to the “re-editing” of the Orgreave assault on the miners by the police – done in order to support the Thatcher establishment of that day…

    I have worked for TV news as a sound recordist and there are many subtle ways bias can be filmed and edited – believe me this is not a set of programmes designed to properly inform and enlighten the British public – it has an infotainment agenda, and a “don’t rock the establishment boat” agenda – (hardly surprising when it is intrinsic to the establishment itself). – especially since the David Kelly fiasco…

    1. This was a Point made by Kate Adie in her Autobiography ‘The Kindness of Strangers’ The BBC hase moved away from reporting the News towards ‘Consumer Infotainment’ , often parroting verbatim the latest press Releases

  5. I think the better way to have gone about it, and any other peaceful demonstrations, is to have each and every town and city, from Land’s End to John O’Groats, all having large demonstrations at the same time.
    I personally don’t see the need for so called “celebrities” – I would rather have MP’s, MEP’s, local councillors, mayors etc. there and putting across their own points of view and taking in what people are actually saying and wanting. After all, each different town and city has a unique point of view as to how the austerity is hitting them, that’s why councillors should be there.

  6. Dear Mr Hanson

    Thanks for contacting us about coverage of the People’s Assembly anti-austerity demonstration on 21 June.

    We understand you feel there was insufficient coverage of this demonstration by BBC News.

    We have received a wide range of feedback about our coverage of this story. In order to use our TV licence fee resources efficiently, this general response aims to answer the key concerns raised, but we apologise in advance if it doesn’t address your specific points in the manner you would prefer.

    Your concerns were raised with senior editorial staff at BBC News who responded as follows:

    “We covered this demonstration on the BBC News Channel with five reports throughout Saturday evening, on the BBC News website on Sunday, as well as on social media. We choose which stories we cover based on how newsworthy they are and what else is happening and we didn’t provide extensive coverage because of a number of bigger national and international news stories that day, including the escalating crisis in Iraq, British citizens fighting in Syria and the death of Gerry Conlon.

    We frequently report on the UK economy and what it means for the British public. We also reflect the concerns of people such as those demonstrating, and others who hold opposing views, across our daily news output on TV, radio as well as online, and we also explore them in more depth including in our political programming and current affairs investigations, debates on ‘Question Time’ and during interviews and analysis on programmes such as ‘PM’ and ‘Newsnight’. Inevitably, there may be disagreements over the level of prominence we give to stories, but we believe our coverage of this subject has been fair and impartial.”

    We hope this goes some way to explaining our position, and thanks again for taking the time to contact us.

    Kind Regards

    BBC Complaints
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints
    BBC – Complaints – Home
    http://www.bbc.co.uk
    How to complain to the BBC, information about the service, public responses to significant issues and reports about complaints
    The BBC Needs To Report News Not Gossip
    you.38degrees.org.uk
    On Saturday 21 June 2014 50000 marched in our capital city but this was ignored by all the national newspapers bar one. There was also no coverage on any of the BBC News…

  7. BBC correspondent to increase disability coverage

    Category: Latest news
    Created: Monday, 30 June 2014 11:20
    BBC News hopes to increase awareness of disability issues with a number of on-air and digital projects after hiring its first disability correspondent.

    The corporation announced in April that Nikki Fox would join to report on the subject across news bulletins and BBC Breakfast. She has been tasked with engaging audiences both affected and unaffected by disability.

    Wheelchair user Fox has previously appeared on BBC1’s The One Show and Rip Off Britain, and has made docs for Radio 4 and Radio 5 Live, including Beyond Disability: The Adventures Of A Blue Badger.

    “We want to look into how the cuts to benefits are affecting people with disabilities and how the changes to the education system may impact children with disabilities,” said Fox, who will work alongside three broadcast journalists in Salford dedicated to disability issues.

    The full story is available here on the Broadcast Now website (paywall)

    Nikki Fox can also be found on twitter as @FoxNikkiFox

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