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Director General of BBC Resigns Over "Poor Journalism" 214

Posted by samzenpus
from the new-fact-checkers dept.
dryriver writes "George Entwistle, the new Director General of the BBC who had been on the job for a mere 54 days, has voluntarily resigned over a BBC program that featured 'poor journalism'. The program in question was 'Newsnight', which typically features hard-hitting investigative journalism similar to American programs like '60 Minutes'. On Friday night, Newsnight accused a prominent Conservative MP and former adviser to Margaret Thatcher, Lord Alistair McAlpine, of having sexually abused a number of young boys at Bryn Estyn Children's Home in the 70s and 80s. Only after Newsnight aired with the allegations in the UK did the BBC realize that 'the wrong photographs were shown' to the alleged sexual abuse victims, who are now adults, and that Lord Alistair McAlpine had nothing whatsoever to do with the abuses committed. Newsnight's 'poor journalism' caused George Entwistle, the Director General of the British Broadcasting Corporation, to resign voluntarily over the scandal caused by the erroneous allegations. This example of an important media chief 'resigning voluntarily due to bad journalism' is interesting, because many TV, Web and Print journalists make 'serious mistakes' in their coverage at some point or the other, and quite often no heads roll whatsoever as a result."
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Director General of BBC Resigns Over "Poor Journalism"

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  • BBC Forward! (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 11, 2012 @02:21PM (#41950721)

    Big deal. You accused an innocent man of being a pedophile. But at least you didn't cover up an investigation of another man being a pedophile. Oh wait!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 11, 2012 @02:30PM (#41950763)

    What actually happened, is that the victim went to the police at the time the alleged incident took place, which was IIRC in the 80s. He was shown photographs by the police and told that they were of Lord McAlpine. The case collapsed and the evidence was destroyed for whatever reason. Police corruption wasn't exactly unheard of back then (see: Hillsborough).

    Now after all this Jimmy Saville stuff came out, Newsnight picked up the story from a legit witness who believed he had been assaulted by McAlpine, BECAUSE THE POLICE TOLD HIM THAT'S WHO IT WAS. Remember that Newsnight was recently blasted for NOT showing a story about paedo Saville based on evidence that was actually less solid than this. This is a witchhunt against the BBC. They had no way of winning this, damned if they did, and damned if they didn't.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 11, 2012 @02:46PM (#41950855)

    This _current_ BBC pedophilia scandal is far greater than what the slashdot article is letting on here.
    Pedophilia is rampant in the uk and elsewhere in the social golden-spoon strata McAlpine hails from
    all the way to the top. It looks like they've decided on trying the easy way out here yet again by slandering the
    investigators and firing them from the job. This is a common form of retaliation with these people.
    Google for BBC pedophilia scandal, there is far more than just this going on.

  • by N1AK (864906) on Sunday November 11, 2012 @02:59PM (#41950967) Homepage
    Someone goes to the BBC an tells them he was abused by Lord McAlpine. The damned if you don't is that as the BBC has just been slagged off by the UK press and politicians for not airing a story about another child abuse case if they didn't air the show and it turned out that it had been Lord McAlpine then they would have been eviscerated for 'another cover-up'.

    Factor in that Newsnight didn't name the person in question, that they certainly did some checking and it is clear that they didn't have a 100% clear case but also that they felt the story was strong enough to air. Did they make a mistake airing it? Possibly but where do you draw the line on when evidence is strong enough? If they were 95% confident it was him, would it be acceptable to tell the story (without naming the individual)? How about 99.9%? The view of the victim was that it had been covered up by the police in the same manner that much of Saville's behaviour had been so again if the BBC kept it quiet they risked a mass of criticism. It really was a case of damned if you do, damned if you don't.
  • by N1AK (864906) on Sunday November 11, 2012 @03:03PM (#41950991) Homepage
    One of the most powerful people in world media has resigned 'voluntarily' for running a hard news programme. If you don't think that's news that matters then it's your shortcoming not the sites fault. Furthermore, one of the reasons this has become such a big issue is because even though Newsnight didn't name the individual and left the description vague enough to give cover, and parliament were asked not to use privilege to name him via the house of commons, the name was outed on Twitter by various people (including other journalists) thus a clear tech connection that the summary missed.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 11, 2012 @03:28PM (#41951163)

    What's happening in the UK right now is totally fucking insane. It's been mentioned before already on various sites, but Chris Morris' Pedogeddon spoof show (back in 2001) was spot on.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 11, 2012 @04:30PM (#41951557)

    Peh. I trust the BBC about as much as I trust Pravda. They like to memory hole stories [bbc.co.uk] that don't fit their agenda after they've been published(Nov 9/12). You hear about the story about the luxury homes in the Palestinian territories that the Beeb did? Probably not. Because it was up for all of an hour before memory holed. It was a rather good bit of journalism they even included pictures of the overflowing markets and all the rest.

    And when I say they scrubbed it, they scrubbed it. It was up and down so fast that not even google crawled it. But, [blogspot.ca] some [blogspot.co.il] bloggers did catch it. [jihadwatch.org]

    Except that it is still there on the BBC web site on November 11. Is this a new definition of "memory hole" where you put video up on your website for the entire world to view for several days? Also, two of your "bloggers" are actually the same blogger, one accessed via the Google Canadian URL and one via the Israeli one.

    In fact, when I go to the main page Middle East news page http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world/middle_east/ it is still one of the top video news stories listed on the right hand side. What the fuck are you talking about?

  • Re:BBC Forward! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Cederic (9623) on Sunday November 11, 2012 @05:15PM (#41951795) Journal

    Nice way of misrepresenting the facts.

    Editorial judgement determines that there's insufficient evidence to safely publish: story stopped. Note that the police had also decided not to prosecute despite having criminal evidence gathering mechanisms available to them and despite having multiple complaints registered with them.

    Editorial judgement determines that a first-hand witness is happy to state on the record what he believes the police told him: story broadcast. The "internet" goes into overdrive and names the wrong man.

    Now, tell me exactly, what did the BBC do wrong here? Put it objectively, and explain it simply, because right now your post is snide misinformation.

  • Re:BBC Forward! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Blue Stone (582566) on Sunday November 11, 2012 @06:18PM (#41952193) Homepage Journal

    >Big deal. You accused an innocent man of being a pedophile. But at least you didn't cover up an investigation of another man being a pedophile. Oh wait!

    Wait, indeed. The Newsnight report didn't name the alleged abuser, who turned out to be completely innocent (well, as innocent as a Tory can be). It actually merely reported that one of the victims of abuse named him. The victim of abuse named him because the police dealing with the case a decade ago, TOLD the victim that it was this senior Tory chap, showing him a photo of the abuser and saying it was the Tory. The victim believed this to be true and told the BBC, who reported it without naming any names.

    The police also mislead another victim, having him also believe that the person who abused him was this Tory.

    So obviously, despite naming no names and simply repeating the victim's accusations, which they believed to be true (albeit without enough rigorous checking) the BBC must be at fault here and people should resign!

    Meanwhile the police .... have taken no responsibility. And the enemies of the BBC, yet again, jump on it for the smallest of errors (or even non-errors) at any chance they're given.

  • by squiggleslash (241428) on Sunday November 11, 2012 @10:27PM (#41953493) Homepage Journal

    A variety of reasons:

    The BBC didn't name him, but the journalist who was working on the story claimed, on Twitter, a few hours prior to broadcast that they planned to name a major Conservative politician. Ironically, McAlpine isn't - and never was - a major politician by most standards (he did at one point "lead" the Conservative Party, but that's more of a fund raising position), and hasn't been a Conservative for about a decade.

    To make matters worse, the story was shoddy journalism to begin with. Leaving aside the fact that at least one of the witnesses does, actually, have a credibility problem (see if you recognize any names in this 1999 New Statesman article, appropriately about another dubious bit of journalism: http://t.co/eZ1drMcV [t.co]), there was no attempt to even contact McAlpine beforehand.

    (It doesn't help that the BBC, by both bringing it up while not naming names also managed to reserrect an awful conspiracy theory from the homophobic pen of Simon Regan, which added virtually anyone rumored to be homosexual in the Conservative Party to a giant fictional pedophile ring headed by McAlpine himself. It's this rumor that actually ended up on the Twitters. Much as I don't like the victims of the smear, it was a nasty attempt to equate homosexuality with pedophilia, and frankly I'm glad Regan is dead.)

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