Thursday, September 22, 2016

The BBC attempting to maintain balance

By Derek Smith

By the nature of the organization, the BBC will not often prioritize election coverage over other national or international events of importance. This week, due to third fatal police shooting of a black man, coverage has shifted from the election to these deaths and what has unfolded because of them.

Making its way to the front page the BBC website, these deaths and the discovery of facts in the days to come are sure to drive stories hopefully for some time.
In the US political section Trump again held a majority of the coverage, most of it negative. Despite Trump’s attempt to seem more moderate in the public eye, the BBC tends to subtly remind the reader of what Trump has said in the past. Clinton seemed to get a surprising amount of positive coverage as another prominent Republican figure has seemingly endorsed her.
An interesting piece comparing world leaders to Trump and Clinton — and at times Trump to his past self — both seemed to praise Clinton’s stances, while comparing Trump to many ill received world leaders. While the moderate Trump has a dignified look about him, past Trump a face of pure smug. Some of the more damaging comparisons were to Rodrigo Durante of the Philippines, and to what he has said in the past, versus the moderate shift he’s had.
Trump's ties with Putin have been different from others.
Photo via Wikipedia.
This piece had a two-fold attack on Trump, first he drew criticism on his complete turn around in some policy issues, and second he’s compared to some of the world’s most negatively perceived leaders such as Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, famous for his hardline approach to crime and drug use.
In the same article Clinton is compared to politicians like Germany’s Angela Merkel, or Norway’s Erna Solberg. While Clinton is usually the lesser of the comparison, she is still gains a great deal of positive coverage in this article, and others written in the last few weeks.
Hillary Clinton speaking at an event.
Credit Marc Nozell Flickr.
While the BBC does it’s best to hide bias, there is a clear slant toward one candidate. Clinton’s coverage rarely seems scrutinized the same way as her opponents. Too often the BBC falls victim to the same pitfalls that other large news outlets fall victim. Too often they provide large scale coverage to frivolous news like celebrity breakups, best left to the entertainment gossip sites.

The BBC does a better job than many outlets, providing coverage to events in Africa and the Middle East unlike that of their American counterparts. Their front page today has coverage devoted to the Syrian War. While one yields to the fluffy happy news, it still brings up an important issue with refugees from the war. They often question issues globally deeper than many American outlets, having an outside perspective. While they try their best at balance they’re guilty of providing too much coverage on scandals rather than the issues.

It’s an effective method to bring in web traffic, but by the standards the BBC sets for itself, their coverage of the US election isn’t entirely different from American coverage, usually coming out at a different time due to the time zone.

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