Tuesday, February 28, 2006

I got an email from Stonewall today. I've been keeping them informed about Newsround, so I was pleased to learn that they've started a new campaign today called Tuned Out which is about gay people in the media.

Gay people 'almost invisible' on BBC flagship channels - findings from major new research by Stonewall.

It's the last day of LGBT history month and Newsround didnt't cover any lgbt stories over the whole month.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Below is a copy of my latest email to Ian Prince, sent last Sunday. I haven't got a reply and the homophobic chanting in football story went unreported. With only a few days left in February it doesn't look like the Editor is showing any signs of changing his mind and reporting stories from LGBT history month. I've written to BBC senior management to try and get things moving.

TO: Ian Prince - Editor of CBBC Newsround

Dear Mr Prince,

As you know I've been in contact with the Newsround team and yourself for a long time over the complete exclusion of lgbt news stories. Very recently the BBC's Diversity Centre confirmed that there is no reason for Newsround not to cover lgbt news and issues. And the Diversity Centre also confirmed that BBC editors have an obligation to give adequate and meaningful consideration to diversity matters and said it should form a substantial element of editorial judgement.

I'm sending you two ideas for stories. Firstly you could consider including something about LGBT history month this February


Also I read a story about the new Spurs policy to combat homophobic chanting in White Hart Lane stadium. It's in the online football magazine, Football365.com (included below). This anti-homophobia in sport story might help lgbt kids to feel more accepted and show that homophobia is wrong.


Spurs issue warning to fans
Sunday February 19 2006

Tottenham have launched a campaign to stamp out homophobic chanting at their White Hart Lane ground.

Clubs across the country have in recent times looked to eradicate racist abuse aimed at players from the terraces and now Spurs have also targeted anti-gay taunting.

A statement from safety officer Sue Tilling says on www.tottenhamhotspur.com: "The club is committed to tackling all forms of discrimination or harassment, whether it concerns race, religion or sexual orientation, and strong action will be taken against those guilty of this offence, whether witnessed by our stewards or reported to them."

Spurs spokesman Peter Secchi has also told the News of the World: "We are fully aware of the spate of homophobic songs and chants that have been creeping into the game lately.

"We will print a warning in our match programme to remind fans that kind of abuse will not be tolerated.

"It's something we have spoken to the Premier League about and we hope this lead is followed by other clubs."

Tottenham have already received the backing of sports minister Richard Caborn, who told the same newspaper: "I compliment Spurs on taking such a positive step.

"It sends a significant message to fans that abusive chants on race, colour, creed or sexuality will not be tolerated. My message to the fans is: Be supportive not abusive."

Monday, February 20, 2006

Have a look at CBBC's Bullying message board and this is what it says in the introduction:


Have you or has anyone you know ever been a victim of racism? Perhaps you've made racist remarks? What do you think schools should do about it? If you heard someone being racist, what would you do? Talk about it on the Bullying message board.

If you're bullied you can put a message on the CBBC on the message board and maybe get help. You might get bullied about being overweight, wear specs etc. But if you're under 15 and bullied about being gay, don't bother posting to the board - they're not interested and your message will not pass the moderators.

The BBC thinks "gay" is a four letter word. And if you want to talk about homophobia or homophobic bullying you can go elsewhere, because you won't get any support from CBBC message boards. CBBC doesn't acknowledge the existence of homophobia, and all talk of it is banned.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

What is going on at the BBC?

They used to have a gay message board but it was removed last year. And now a BBC local radio station in Manchester has said that it will stop its talk show for gay people in April.

Last year I emailed the diversity department and told them that the gay rights information on a "onelife" web page was very out of date.


They said my email had been forwarded to colleagues at 'onelife' and thanked me for bringing it to their attention. That was on 21 December 2005, but the page stayed the same, and hasn't changed since I blogged it on 7 January 2006.

All in all, I have the impression that gay people are very low priority at the BBC.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

We're more than half way through LGBT History Month, with not a single mention on Newsround. Since Monday the 5.25pm Newsrounds have included four stories about the Winter Olympics, only two animal related stories (not a good week for animal stories on Newsround), a Valentines Day story about a kissathon in the Philippines and Jess's presspacker report about Steve Fossett's new world record, including an interview with him.

Did you know that the Newsround team make teachers' notes for PSHE and Citizenship classes? What a cheek! So far Newsround has shown that it's clueless about diversity and inclusiveness, particularly when it comes to lgbt people and issues.

Amazingly some people don't believe that there's any discrimination against lgbt people on cbbc. Over two years ago Alex Parks, at that time the new winner of Fame Academy, gave an interview to the Guardian. This is an excerpt from the article.

Although she has struggled with doubt in her abilities, Parks fiercely wants to sing, and to do so as openly as possible. This honesty comes in part from freely admitting her homosexuality. "I don't mind talking about it, because I'm glad and I'm proud of myself," she says. "I feel like I have been me, and people need that - some people do need someone to look at and think, 'I'm not the only one', because I remember thinking I'm the only one in the world."

But only a few days later on 14 November 2003 she participated in a Star Chat with Adrian Dickson. She wasn't asked a single question about who she fancied, or about if she was in a relationship or anything else which might just touch on her lesbian sexuality - not one question.

Andrew Hayden Smith & Alex Parks

There was a Star Chat interview a month earlier, on 7 October with Andrew Hayden Smith, and also hosted by Adrian Dickson. Andrew was asked a whole series of questions passed on from viewers about romance, relationships, dating, who he fancied and more, but he wasn't "out" at that time and answered as best he could.

Homophobia is alive and kicking at cbbc, but it's got to go.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Romance is in the air on Newsround's wesite today.

A vote on what age you think it's best to start dating.

And where would Newsround be without animal stories? Find out how members of the animal kingdom 'say' I Love You.

Don't worry there's not a gay penguin in sight!

fluffy penguin

Happy Valentines Day

Monday, February 13, 2006

Remember that the BBC Diversity Centre responded to me on Friday 10 February, saying that diversity should form a substantial element of editorial judgement and that all editors share an obligation to give adequate and meaningful consideration to diversity matters.

I replied yesterday as follows:

Date: Sun, 12 Feb 2006 13:27:22

Dear Mr Husbands,

Thank you for liaising with me over concerns about CBBC Newsround and for examining the issues very carefully. I've always thought that Diversity is important, and I'm pleased to see that the BBC agrees. We will just have to wait and see whether the Newsround team will take this on board in their editorial decisions.

Thanks also to Andrea Callender.

I'm sending a copy of this reply to Richard Deverell, as the new Controller of CBBC.

Best wishes

I saw on the BBC 'one life' message board over the weekend that some other people are unhappy with the way things are going at the BBC. I'll write more about this shortly.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

I've just sent an email thanking Cyril Husbands and Andrea Callender for liaising with me about Newsround. I told them that We will just have to wait and see whether the Newsround team will take Diversity on board in their editorial decisions. I also sent a copy to Richard Deverell as he is the new Controller of CBBC, and told me last week that he had looked into the programme previously.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

A bit of good news at last. No don't get your hopes up too quickly - we are in this for the long haul.

To summarize, I received three emails from Cyril Husbands.

The first email just confirmed Ian Prince's position on everything - it was a rehash of Mr Prince's views, as I explained to Mr Husbands in a very long reply on 11 January.

In the second email, received four weeks later, Mr Husbands modified his position. There was nothing to prevent the reporting of news about civil partnerships, nor news about the anti-homophobia campaign in schools - if it wasn't covered that was simply an editorial decision.

Also, there is no need for LGBT issues to be covered at school before they can be reported on Newsround. The point about coverage of LGBT issues not being precluded from consideration for future editions of the programme was reiterated.

So there is nothing at all preventing the reporting of lgbt issues in Newsround.

I followed this up with an email asking:

If an editor works for the BBC and shows unwillingness to be inclusive and follow a modern diversity agenda, is it reasonable to allow such a bias to go on without some kind of check?

From the point of view of an editorial judgement should diversity be a factor to be considered, and as a Diversity Officer would you agree that it should be a significant part of the editorial judgement decision?

And in the third email I received answers to my questions as follows.

All editors share an obligation to give adequate and meaningful consideration to diversity matters, so bias could not go on unchecked.

Diversity should form a substantial element of editorial judgement.

So that's all that can be achieved for now. We'll just have to keep viewing and see if anything changes. If it does - all well and good. But if after a while there's no indication of change then the BBC will be ignoring their own Diversity Policy.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

I'm sorry that news about Newsround is painfully slow at the moment. But there may be finally a glimmer of hope because Mr Husbands replied to my questions yesterday, and the reply was not completely supportive of Ian Prince, as was his previous reply.

The really big questions still to be answered are about "editorial judgement": Can an editor disregard diversity, and are there any checks if this bias continues to happen?

Events towards the end of 2005 included the "Stamp out homophobia in schools" petition, the start of Civil Partnerships and the partnership ceremony for Elton John & David Furnish. None of these events were reported on Newsround, and those events were just the latest in a long line which have been excluded after "editorial judgement" decisions. So how are these judgements made and are all the BBC's viewers being given fair treatment, and if we aren't what can we do about it?

The BBC says it's committed to reflecting the diversity of the UK and to making its services accessible to all. This, they say, applies both to the output - TV, radio and online - and the workforce, aiming to be inclusive of those groups who are often under-represented - older people, women, disabled people, people from ethnic minorities, those of all faiths and social classes, lesbians and gay men.

When she was appointed BBC's Head of Diversity, Andrea Callender said: "I am excited about the prospect of working with the BBC to make it a more diverse place, and am looking forward to engaging with production teams to build on the progress made on air."

So we'll just have to wait for a bit longer to see if they'll keep to these promises, and will follow a modern diversity agenda.

Meanwhile the Newsround online heterosexist Celeb Gossip daily updates go on unabated:

Thursday February 09 2006 10:57 GMT

Shakira's secret dates
Is Shakira secretly dating Robbie Williams? The two recently turned up to a James Blunt gig together and are said to have been spending lots of time together recently... watch this space!!

Or why not play the heterosexist "Match the couples in Celebrity Pairs" game?

Sunday, February 05, 2006

During LGBT history month we can look at the contributions made by individuals with diverse sexualities - and make no assumptions about people, except that we all have equal status and worth in society. No one should be bullied, and we should all show respect to each other - whether we're lesbian, straight, trans, bi, gay, unsure or questioning.

I bet they don't mention LGBT history month on Newsround, like they didn't last year. I bet if a presspacker wanted to talk about it, they wouldn't allow it. Once I offered to report on gay stories but they weren't interested. So they just pretend they have respect for young people, but in fact it's the opposite.

A sister blog called newsround is stupid found the same. So real empowerment means young people will not stand for being looked down upon, or bullied.

Useful link.. Youth rights