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.