BBC churns for Dorries without checking source


1:33 pm - May 9th 2011

by Sunny Hundal    


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Late last week the BBC ran this story on their website:

Many parents ‘oppose school sex education for children’

More than half of parents do not think sex education should be taught to children in school from a young age, a survey suggests. Of 1,700 parents of UK 5-11 year olds surveyed by the BabyChild website, 59% said they disagreed with the practice.

The most common reason given was that it is “inappropriate to teach children about sex”. The survey comes after a Bill calling for girls to be “taught to say no” passed its first reading in parliament.

Where did the story come from? Were the sentiments expressed representative? You’d expect BBC journalists to ask such basic questions right?

The story was put out through a press release by a Gloucester-based PR agency called 10 Yetis, points out Unity at Ministry of Truth.

It seems they regularly churn out press releases based on surveys they have conducted themselves. Over 330 in fact!

Fair enough, though they’re not part of the Market Research Society and therefore we don’t know if they are using representative samples. So it looks like the BBC journalist in question didn’t bother asking how kosher this survey was.

And it gets more interesting. The BBC article says people were surveyed for the BabyChild website.

Who is behind BabyChild?

A guy called Andy Barr, who also happens to be at 10 Yetis. He is actually quoted in the Daily Mail story on the same survey.

Unity also points out that the questions used in the survey weren’t exactly neutral.

Yet the BBC was happy to promote the survey as a way of bolstering Nadine Dorries’ agenda.

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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


Given the number of times LC has reposted Labour Party press releases practically verbatim, this is pretty rich.

A quick warning – you may have some problems with the link to the Ministry for the next hour or so.

At the moment I’m having ongoing server issues with my host between 1pm and 3pm outr time which appear to be a server overload problem – for the technically minded, the MySQL database is getting hammered every day at around the same time, probably because other (American) users on the server have all set their database backup scripts to run at the same fecking time.

I am trying to sort this at the moment, but in the mean time you’ll have to bear with me and trust to the fact that Sunny’s given an accurate account of the main points of my post.

Yeah, when something like this happens – conservative viewpoints are published without checking sources and providing alternative views at the same time – that indeed *is* news.

@1, I’m sure that you can provide examples of those “Labour Party press releases” that have been reposted on LC “practically verbatim”.

After all, you wouldn’t be trolling. Perish the thought!

5. Chaise Guevara

@ 1 Andy H

“Given the number of times LC has reposted Labour Party press releases practically verbatim, this is pretty rich.”

Hmm. That would indeed be hypocritical if LC were a tax-funded service that has a mandate to present news objectively and without bias. As this isn’t the case, it appears that you have no idea what you’re talking about.

6. Chaise Guevara

OT: personally, I’m willing to give the Beeb the benefit of the doubt and say this may well be a genuine oversight.

7. Mr S. Pill

@6

I half-agree in that I don’t think the Beeb is following Dorries’ agenda on purpose, but with the huge caveat that they should check sources very carefully and I’ll be emailing them to say the very same. It’s journalistic laziness to use stats from an agenda-based outfit with such a highly emotive subject.

8. Chaise Guevara

@ 7

Agree entirely. The Beeb should definitely double-check anything vaguely political (and ideally, if the time is available, everything else too) and try to put conflicting viewpoints up whenever the topic is subjective. It’s a bit aggravating when they obviously agonize over their mandate in some cases, but break it due to laziness in others.

9. Dan Factor

When will the Conservative and Christian Right wake up and realise that you cannot prevent things like teenage pregnancy and irresponsible sexual behaviour amongst young people simply by hiding sex under the carpet and pretending it’s just a grubby thing people do in order to procreate?

Nadine Dorries is a publicity seeking politician – but she shouldn’t be underestimated, her views that teenage pregnancy can be eradicated or reduced by teaching girls to say ‘No’ is actually quite dangerously misguided.
It is, as I’ve blooged, http://www.allthatsleft.co.uk/2011/05/just-say-no-to-nadine/ there is far more to this whole debate.

@Dan Factor.
The arse end of never. Maybe later than that. For some reason conservatives of Dorries’ ilk seem to think teenagers are as incurious as they are.

12. DisgustedOfTunbridgeWells

You’d expect BBC journalists to ask such basic questions right?

Nope, read Flat Earth News, bbc stenographers are one of the worst for it.

13. Watchman

Cylux,

The arse end of never. Maybe later than that. For some reason conservatives of Dorries’ ilk seem to think teenagers are as incurious as they are.

I don’t know – there seems to be the odd bit of evidence that Ms Dorries is not totally incurious around sex.

I actually think that for some reason people like Ms Dorries believe that teaching people to do something means they do it (gosh, that’s school discipline sorted out – we’ll just teach them to behave properly!). Wierdly, from my point of view this seems very like old-school state socialism – the directive comes down from on high, through the teachers to the masses, who are then expected to follow blindly. I guess that both would be similiarly unsuccesful.

The BBC has got it’s nose so far up the Conservatives bum it is unbelievable.

I think teenage pregnancies are well down on what they were 15 years ago, and sex education may have something to do with it. The trouble with Dorries is she is the typical air head social conservative. She wants to wish away things she does not like.

So she does not want teenage pregnancies ,but she does not want icky sex taught in schools either. Keep um thick and stupid is the social conservative way.

Wierdly, from my point of view this seems very like old-school state socialism – the directive comes down from on high, through the teachers to the masses, who are then expected to follow blindly. I guess that both would be similarly unsuccessful.

State socialism, social conservatism, call it what you will it’s the same mindset – ban it/pretend it doesn’t exist and it will magically disappear. It’s a bit like asking anti-abortionists What punishment should women who get illegal abortions face? It doesn’t even occur to them that people might break the law, or in this instance that there are teenage girls who are going to have sex regardless of being taught to abstain.

Those that are arguing that it could be a genuine oversight on behalf of the beeb, I know myself that the bbc regularly broadcast blatantly biased material. I have lost count of the number of times I have sent off complaints to Look North News concerning the ‘twisting’ of truths and glaringly obvious bad reporting i.e. using images or film sequences NOT directly associated with the news story at hand to promote a point.

17. Chaise Guevara

@ 16 Ron Knee

The thing is, everyone and his dog seems to be under the impression that the Beeb is biased against their own beliefs, which to me suggests that the bias might be more in the eye of the beholder. Using stock footage in the background of a story is common to basically all news channels, and while it can be used to make a point, it’s also often used just to make the report seem more watchable.

Avoiding bias completely is probably impossible, but the BBC seems to at least make a good effort, and I’m not going to kick up a fuss if something like this is published as a result of journos being in a rush. Systematic bias would worry me, but I don’t see it.

18. john Reid

Andy H ,But I take Labour press stories printed here with a pinch of salt and this isn’t a Tory press story this is a back bancher who David Cameron has no time for, and The BBC is supposed to be unbias Liberal conspircay isn’t


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    BBC churns PR for Nadine Dorries… http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/05/09/bbc-churns-pr-for-nadine-dorries-without-even-checking-source/

  2. Tim Ireland

    RT @libcon: BBC churns PR for Nadine Dorries… http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/05/09/bbc-churns-pr-for-nadine-dorries-without-even-ch

  3. Gemma Hallam

    RT @libcon: BBC churns PR for Nadine Dorries… http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/05/09/bbc-churns-pr-for-nadine-dorries-without-even-ch

  4. Lerryn

    RT @libcon: BBC churns PR for Nadine Dorries… http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/05/09/bbc-churns-pr-for-nadine-dorries-without-even-ch

  5. Alex J. Thomas

    RT @libcon: BBC churns PR for Nadine Dorries… http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/05/09/bbc-churns-pr-for-nadine-dorries-without-even-ch

  6. dan mcquillan

    from churnalism to complicity? RT @libcon: BBC churns PR for Nadine Dorries… http://bit.ly/igow4O

  7. MerseyMal

    RT @libcon: BBC churns PR for Nadine Dorries… http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/05/09/bbc-churns-pr-for-nadine-dorries-without-even-ch

  8. Clive

    RT @libcon: BBC churns PR for Nadine Dorries… http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/05/09/bbc-churns-pr-for-nadine-dorries-without-even-ch

  9. Robin Morris

    Thought this story was depressing, turns out it was just dodge: http://j.mp/igow4O

  10. Liberal Conspiracy

    BBC churns press release for Nadine Dorries without even checking the source http://bit.ly/jqPjN6

  11. Paul Cunliffe

    RT @libcon: BBC churns press release for Nadine Dorries without even checking the source http://bit.ly/jqPjN6

  12. Paul Crowley

    BBC reports on Dorries "survey", doesn't say it was conducted by her PR agency on agency employee's website http://j.mp/kvhMsD

  13. Robin Rea

    RT@libcon BBC churns press release for Nadine Dorries without even checking the source http://bit.ly/jqPjN6. prats, and stop her, please

  14. Matthew Teller

    #badjournalism "@libcon BBC churns press release for Nadine Dorries without even checking the source http://bit.ly/jqPjN6

  15. From the red carpet

    RT @libcon: BBC churns PR for Nadine Dorries… http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/05/09/bbc-churns-pr-for-nadine-dorries-without-even-ch

  16. atomboy

    @mrplug BBC churns press release for Nadine Dorries without even checking the source http://bit.ly/jqPjN6 from @libcon

  17. Amber of the Island

    RT @libcon: BBC churns press release for Nadine Dorries without even checking the source http://bit.ly/jqPjN6

  18. CathElliott

    RT @libcon: BBC churns press release for Nadine Dorries without even checking the source http://bit.ly/jqPjN6

  19. Tim Ireland

    The many Twitter accounts connected to @10Yetis appear to have gone very quiet. Perhaps they're in a meeting. (see: http://bit.ly/jqPjN6)

  20. Andy Bean

    RT @libcon: BBC churns PR for Nadine Dorries… http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/05/09/bbc-churns-pr-for-nadine-dorries-without-even-ch

  21. Michael Bater

    BBC churns for Dorries without checking source | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/Z9S8P0H via @libcon

  22. sunny hundal

    BBC churns press release for Nadine Dorries without even checking the source. Lame journalism http://bit.ly/jqPjN6

  23. Liam McKee

    RT @sunny_hundal: BBC churns press release for Nadine Dorries without even checking the source. Lame journalism http://bit.ly/jqPjN6

  24. Robin Ince

    RT @sunny_hundal: BBC churns press release for Nadine Dorries without even checking the source. Lame journalism http://bit.ly/jqPjN6

  25. Diana Fire

    RT @sunny_hundal: BBC churns press release for Nadine Dorries without even checking the source. Lame journalism http://bit.ly/jqPjN6

  26. DonaldS

    Did BBC churn a "survey" (http://bit.ly/jqPjN6) in reporting this story on Dorries' SexEd bill: http://bbc.in/jxJ4Nd

  27. Will Mac

    RT @sunny_hundal: BBC churns press release for Nadine Dorries without even checking the source. Lame journalism http://bit.ly/jqPjN6

  28. Holly Steel

    RT @sunny_hundal: BBC churns press release for Nadine Dorries without even checking the source. Lame journalism http://bit.ly/jqPjN6

  29. Mark Clapham

    Fucks sake bbc news sort your shit out: RT @libcon: BBC churns PR for Nadine Dorries… http://ow.ly/1sSrBP

  30. Mel

    Poor RT @sunny_hundal: BBC churns press release for Nadine Dorries without even checking the source. Lame journalism http://bit.ly/jqPjN6

  31. Thomas Atcheson

    RT @sunny_hundal: BBC churns press release for Nadine Dorries without even checking the source. Lame journalism http://bit.ly/jqPjN6

  32. keith

    @BBCNews not cool RT @libcon: BBC churns press release for Nadine Dorries without even checking the source http://bit.ly/jqPjN6

  33. Mark Salmon

    RT @sunny_hundal: BBC churns press release for Nadine Dorries without even checking the source. Lame journalism http://bit.ly/jqPjN6

  34. Ben Wainwright

    RT @sunny_hundal: BBC churns press release for Nadine Dorries without even checking the source. Lame journalism http://bit.ly/jqPjN6

  35. Stuart Montagu

    RT @sunny_hundal: BBC churns press release for Nadine Dorries without even checking the source. Lame journalism http://bit.ly/jqPjN6

  36. Ed Yong

    Sigh. RT: @sunny_hundal: BBC churns press release without even checking the source. Lame journalism http://bit.ly/jqPjN6

  37. Anne Coleman

    RT @edyong209: Sigh. RT: @sunny_hundal: BBC churns press release without even checking the source. Lame journalism http://bit.ly/jqPjN6

  38. nullifidian

    RT @sunny_hundal: BBC churns press release for Nadine Dorries without even checking the source. Lame journalism http://bit.ly/jqPjN6

  39. Aaron Chandra

    RT @sunny_hundal: BBC churns press release for Nadine Dorries without even checking the source. Lame journalism http://bit.ly/jqPjN6

  40. Mark Martin

    RT @sunny_hundal: BBC churns press release for Nadine Dorries without even checking the source. Lame journalism http://bit.ly/jqPjN6

  41. ManOrMoose

    RT @libcon: BBC churns for Dorries without checking source http://bit.ly/lGfmca

  42. ManOrMoose

    RT @libcon: BBC churns for Dorries without checking source http://bit.ly/lGfmca

  43. Mark Hughes

    Tut tut BBC RT @sunny_hundal BBC churns press release for Nadine Dorries without checking the source. Lame journalism http://t.co/GxcfTIz

  44. Mark Hughes

    Tut tut BBC RT @sunny_hundal BBC churns press release for Nadine Dorries without checking the source. Lame journalism http://t.co/GxcfTIz

  45. Dr Petra Boynton

    RT @sunny_hundal: BBC churns press release for Nadine Dorries without even checking the source. http://bit.ly/jqPjN6

  46. Andrew Sowerby

    RT @sunny_hundal: BBC churns press release for Nadine Dorries without even checking the source. Lame journalism http://bit.ly/jqPjN6

  47. Ma

    RT @DrPetra: RT @sunny_hundal: BBC churns press release for Nadine Dorries without even checking the source. http://bit.ly/jqPjN6

  48. Martin Robbins

    Also dire: RT @sunny_hundal: BBC churns press release for Nadine Dorries without even checking the source. http://bit.ly/jqPjN6

  49. Hannah M

    RT @DrPetra: RT @sunny_hundal: BBC churns press release for Nadine Dorries without even checking the source. http://bit.ly/jqPjN6

  50. Willard Foxton

    @GoodandBadPR Rich, Sunny Hundal is attacking you on Libcon:BBC churns press release without even checking the source. http://bit.ly/jqPjN6

  51. David

    RT @DrPetra: RT @sunny_hundal: BBC churns press release for Nadine Dorries without even checking the source. http://bit.ly/jqPjN6

  52. Spider Fingers

    RT @DrPetra: RT @sunny_hundal: BBC churns press release for Nadine Dorries without even checking the source. http://bit.ly/jqPjN6

  53. Tim Ireland

    Looks like @10yetis have adopted the position of LALALALATHIS ISNOTHAPPENINGLALALA (see: http://bit.ly/jqPjN6 http://bit.ly/lMKiH5)

  54. Lerryn

    RT @bloggerheads: Looks like @10yetis have adopted the position of LALALALATHIS ISNOTHAPPENINGLALALA (see: http://bit.ly/jqPjN6 http://b

  55. Aoife Nic Seáin

    RT @DrPetra: RT @sunny_hundal: BBC churns press release for Nadine Dorries without even checking the source. http://bit.ly/jqPjN6

  56. Mandy Morris

    RT @RobinEmm: Thought this story was depressing, turns out it was just dodge: http://j.mp/igow4O

  57. Thaddeus Beatlebrox

    RT @sunny_hundal: BBC churns press release for Nadine Dorries without even checking the source. Lame journalism http://bit.ly/jqPjN6

  58. The Curator

    RT @DrPetra: RT @sunny_hundal: BBC churns press release for Nadine Dorries without even checking the source. http://bit.ly/jqPjN6

  59. Lauren Reid

    RT @DrPetra: RT @sunny_hundal: BBC churns press release for Nadine Dorries without even checking the source. http://bit.ly/jqPjN6

  60. Dr Petra Boynton

    RT @bloggerheads: Looks like @10yetis have adopted the position of LALALALATHIS ISNOTHAPPENINGLALALA (see: http://bit.ly/jqPjN6 http://b

  61. Steve Anderson

    RT @bloggerheads: Looks like @10yetis have adopted the position of LALALALATHIS ISNOTHAPPENINGLALALA (see: http://bit.ly/jqPjN6 http://b

  62. Tim Ireland

    The lovely people at @10yetis appear to be entirely unapologetic. I suppose one shouldn't be surprised. http://bit.ly/jqPjN6

  63. Kirstin Donaldson

    RT @libcon: BBC churns for Dorries without checking source http://bit.ly/lGfmca

  64. The great 10 Yetis circle jerk | Too Much To Say For Myself

    […] of Charlotte Horsfall. Liberal Conspiracy covered it yesterday with Sunny’s post  – BBC churns for Dorries without checking source, but now I’m going to weigh in on this one […]





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