The perils of balanced journalism

In today’s Daily Telegraph, BBC Newsbeat editor, Louisa Compton, huffily dismisses the Ofcom ruling over the appropriate context and scheduling of a report on Newsbeat featuring an interview with a British man fighting for the so-called Islamic State. During the interview, the jihadist likened terrorism to a computer game.

The BBC has claimed it was not an “ISIS propaganda video” and Ms Compton insists that the Corporation “should not shy away from tackling difficult issues since it has “a duty to explore, interpret and analyse both domestic and international news for our audiences. Inevitably, this means occasionally broadcasting opinions which most people would find uncomfortable or offensive”.

However, the BBC often fails to understand that its aspiration to deliver fair, representative and balanced reporting can easily fall victim to the law of unintended consequences. It’s easy to see how such journalism may provide the oxygen of publicity to terrorists and may be seen as conferring a badge of respectability on people who are way beyond the pale of acceptable human interaction. Balanced journalism is not as easy as it sounds. If terrorists must be interviewed on television, their views should be openly and robustly challenged and opposed.

About thespeedofdark

David Winship has written an unauthorised autobiography and several critically disdained literary tomes. His work is frequently compared with Steinbeck, Orwell and Hemingway, but unfortunately Mike Steinbeck, Daisy Orwell and Howard Hemingway were all terrible writers. He has been totally overlooked for the most prestigious literary awards worldwide, which is a shame as most of the words are spelled correctly. In fact, his books contain material that ranks with the finest literary works in history: all the right letters are there, just not necessarily in the right order.

Dave’s blog (The Speed Of Dark Blog) is part of his crusade for truth and justice and universal entitlement to free real ale. It may well be that his whole purpose in life is to serve as a warning to others.

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