Monday, 12 November 2012

We shouldn't gag the BBC

Newsnight had two stories of child abuse, one they suppressed and one they failed to verify the facts. The result has been a total breakdown in the BBC news department with resignations aplenty and the entire news agenda dominated by the BBC.

Yet we must be careful.

Firstly the fallout at the BBC has obscured the very important issue of systematic and institutional abuse of young people in care, as well as the abuse by celebrities who held a position of trust. And, while the horrendous events reported by Newsnight are described as ‘historic’, the fact remains that abuse can scar people for life, impacting on their lifelong mental health, ability to form relationships etc.

There are still unanswered questions about the events at the homes in North Wales but these questions have been eclipsed by the frenzied call for heads at the BBC. The real story revolves around the original investigation in the early 1990’s yet, it seems, the truth will be buried beneath the bodies of those falling on their swords at the BBC.

In the second instance we need to be careful about this fevered attack on BBC News. After all, what percentage of news output at the BBC do these two Newsnight programmes amount to? Probably very little and we must not frighten BBC News into ‘playing safe’ with such stories in the future.

Without BBC reporting the Winterbourne View abuse could still be going on, elderly people could still be abused in certain care homes etc. Although these were Panorama investigations they still come under the BBC News banner.

We have more to commend BBC News for than we have to dismiss it with the fervour shown by many in high places and we need it to continue to investigate the wrong doings in society and expose abuse wherever it happens. The danger is BBC News producers will become too afraid of the ramifications of being too controversial and facing the wrath of those who disagree.

Newsnight cocked-up yet, if you read the circumstances, they were GIVEN the high profile name, further reading tells us that the victim in question was told that name twenty odd years ago. Reporters should have gone further in verifying the name and that is the only failure causing the BBC frenzy while the real story goes unreported and, possibly, uninvestigated.

The majority of the BBC News output is good, their exposure of injustices must continue and we must not allow this current mistake to stop this.