The frequency, scale and nature of attacks on the ‘new left media’ (NLM) are escalating.
Last month, BBC Chair Sir David Clementi made a barely-veiled and misdirected attack on the NLM. He started by complaining about audiences booing journalists for ‘doing their job’ but soon turned to attacking online media, whose freedom to speak out clearly irritates him:
Truth and accuracy are under assault like never before. False claims travel the globe in an instant. And new media channels can speak, unchallenged, to closed groups of audiences.
In fact, of course, the Establishment’s concern about the NLM is exactly that they are not speaking to closed audiences, but instead affect the wider narrative. Equally evident is the fact that journalists often receive boos when they abuse their position – as the above-linked article demonstrated.
On Thursday, deputy Prime Minister Damian Green made an unprincipled attack on the NLM by abusing the memory of murdered MP Jo Cox.
Ignoring the daily dishonesty of much of the ‘mainstream media’, Green defamed the NLM as “unscrupulous blogs and websites that have no regard for any attempt to check the truth” and accused them of endangering MPs, saying they:
“risk feeding an atmosphere of increasing hatred which at the most horrible of extremes led to the killing of Jo Cox.”
Shame on him.
Of course, Green missed the point that the murderer of Jo Cox fed his hatred on the bile of the mainstream, right-wing media.
But the BBC is also far from blameless. It routinely regurgitates government propaganda phrased as fact and, when this involves repeating government policies and tropes that demonise the poor and disabled, it contributes to the ‘atmosphere of increasing hatred’.
But this week it has more directly endangered people.
The people of Ryedale in North Yorkshire have been trying desperately to prevent fracking imposed on them by the government and protests are ongoing. On Thursday, the BBC reported that four local protesters had been appeared in court:
Newsworthy enough, but the BBC went on to not only name the four people – who have not yet been convicted of any crime – but to give the addresses of three of them.
Fracking is a fraught and contentious issue, with strong feelings both among objectors and among those who want to see it done. By publishing the addresses of anti-fracking protesters, the BBC has put three people, including two women, and potentially their families at risk of stalking and reprisal.
A local man who saw the article immediately put in a complaint to the BBC:
I have never before seen people targeted in such a callous way as to put themselves and their families in danger by publishing their street addresses as you have done . This is irresponsible and vindictive.
At the moment they are still innocent until proven guilty and the BBC has made it very easy for anyone with an extreme right-wing agenda to seek these people out in their homes.
The BBC would not do this to murderers or paedophiles so why do you think it is acceptable to do it to ordinary people who are protesting against fracking? I am shocked and appalled that you would stoop so low.
The BBC has not yet responded.
This situation exemplifies a whole situation that is being ignored completely by the Establishment in favour of its nonsensical and agenda-driven attacks on the ‘inconvenient’ NLM.
Clarification of article
In an article first published on 21 October 2017 under the headline “Reckless BBC publishes names and addresses of protestors”, THE SKWAWKBOX presented its opinion that the BBC had been reckless to report the names and addresses of fracking protestors who had appeared in court and had put them at risk as a result, without reference to this being standard journalistic practice. In doing so, the article did not distinguish clearly between statements of fact, conjecture and opinion, which led to a breach of Clause 1.3 (Accuracy) of the IMPRESS Standards Code. Click here to read the full adjudication by IMPRESS.
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