BBC responds to Coulson-gate criticisms


6:13 pm - September 6th 2010

by Sunny Hundal    


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Two Liberal Conspiracy readers have written in to say that the BBC has responded to their complaints that the corporation did not cover Coulsongate / Metgate quickly enough.

The responses were to Tam Chandler and Alex Andrews, and both received the same response. Here it is:

Thank you for your feedback.

We appreciate some viewers and listeners feel we haven’t sufficiently reported on allegations levelled at the Conservative Party’s Director of Communications Andy Coulson, surrounding supposed involvement with phone hacking during his tenure at the News of the World.

The story first emerged on the New York Times website as a pre-publication to a story in its Sunday Magazine – published on Sunday 5 September. At the time they were quoting anonymous sources and the BBC could independently substantiate the claims made with its own journalism. After doing our own research as well as a BBC interview with the former News of the World Reporter Sean Hoare we ran with the story on Friday 3 September. That day it led our TV bulletins at Six and Ten as well as our radio bulletin at Six pm. It also featured prominently on the BBC news website. The New York Times then ran the full story on Sunday 5 September.

Our handling of this story was in line with our working practices of double checking sources and accuracy of any story before we broadcast it. Impartiality is one of the cornerstones of BBC News and we reject any suggestions that we did not cover the story for political reasons.

We have fully covered the progression of this story. Last year we extensively reported on Mr Coulson’s appearance at the Commons Culture, Media and Sport committee. This event was covered across our television and radio news bulletins, in flagship programmes such as ‘Newsnight’ and ‘Today’ and also online at:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8161642.stm

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8160433.stm

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/nickrobinson/2009/07/cameron_aide_emerges.html

It must be noted we have accordingly reported on more recent developments surrounding this matter. Aside from the coverage previously mentioned, ‘Today’ spoke to Lord Prescott on 3 September; the story was covered in detail on the BBC News Channel on this day and also featured online at:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-11175076

We’ill continue to follow this story as it develops and cover its many aspects in a clear, fair and balanced manner.

We appreciate the strength of your views regarding this matter, please be assured we have registered your comments on our daily audience log.. This is the internal report of audience feedback which we compile daily for all programme makers and commissioning executives within the BBC, and also their senior management. It ensures that your points, and all other comments we receive, are circulated and considered across the BBC.

Thanks again for getting in touch.

Kind Regards

BBC Audience Services

If anyone received anything different please let us know. And well done to everyone who complained to the BBC.

Update: Meanwhile, here is the political editor of the Spectator: “The BBC is not ready for the full-on confrontation with the government that would come from giving this story the same prominence tomorrow as it has today”

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


Well what do you expect when the BBC has already had to go and bow and scrape to Call me Dave for their coverage of spending cuts.

The BBC is now the mouthpiece of the tory party

2. Chaise Guevara

Way to read the article there, sally.

What’s the Beeb doing describing itself as “Fair and Balanced”?

Thanks for that, Tam Chandler and Alex Andrews. I think that these words from the BBC statement are worth highlighting: “Our handling of this story was in line with our working practices of double checking sources and accuracy of any story before we broadcast it.”

That is a pretty consistent message from the BBC who have been trying to avoid contractions of news stories. Perhaps wisely, given how badly pre-Iraq war stories were handled.

On the surface, you would have thought that the NYT was a reliable source. However, owing to the Jayson Blair/NYT scandal in 2003, a cautious approach by the BBC might be expected.

Thanks also to Sunny for highlighting the work of hacks at UK newspapers who have kept the story alive.

I received the same response.

@4

It’s not the NYT as a reliable source that is the problem, it’s the sources that the NYT used itself. The Beeb does indeed have a strict policy of corraborating (sp) sources hence why it sometimes breaks stories later than other outfits like Sky for example.

So, let’s get this straight:

The BBC is being slated for being too slow off the mark for prominently running a story on 3rd September about allegations printed in the NYT on 5th September?

The accusation that the beeb was “too slow” when it reported news that was yet actually to happen is based on the fact that the NYT put a pre-pub teaser on its website.

Wow, the internet really is changing the terms of trade in the news biz, innit?

To be fair you all do a great job. Some good bits and some bad.
I can’t say I liked any of what you did last time.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    BBC respond to criticisms they didn't cover Coulsongate quickly enough http://bit.ly/94Z9VG

  2. Jem Stone

    RT @libcon: BBC respond to criticisms they didn't cover Coulsongate quickly enough http://bit.ly/94Z9VG

  3. Shakil Ahmed

    BBC busy sucking upto Cameron RT: @libcon: BBC respond to criticisms they didn't cover Coulsongate quickly enough http://bit.ly/94Z9VG

  4. sunny hundal

    RT @libcon: BBC respond to criticisms they didn't cover Coulsongate quickly enough http://bit.ly/94Z9VG

  5. Manu Ekanayake

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  6. Nadia

    Pretty thorough and robust response. RT @libcon BBC responds to criticisms they didn't cover Coulsongate quickly enough http://bit.ly/94Z9VG

  7. Jon Harrington

    RT @libcon: BBC respond to criticisms they didn't cover Coulsongate quickly enough http://bit.ly/94Z9VG

  8. Duncan Falconer

    RT @libcon: BBC respond to criticisms they didn't cover Coulsongate quickly enough http://bit.ly/94Z9VG





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