Thursday, December 30, 2010

Both Newsround and Newsnight are enjoying a long Christmas break. But news doesn't stop for Christmas, so BBC reporters are still working assiduously to get angles on current affairs.

Lizo Mzimba spent ten years working for CBBC Newsround, securing many scoops on Harry Potter and Doctor Who, which were amongst his passions. All this showbiz knowledge must have come in useful when applying for the BBC's Entertainment Correspondent. Lizo was a popular Newsround presenter, although he had some difficulty particularly with live outside broadcasts. That continued to be the case when he interviewed David Furnish at the funeral of Stephen Gately last year. Lizo had asked Furnish about newspaper reporting of Gately's death, but when Furnish specifically mentioned Jan Moir's controversial article in the Daily Mail, Lizo visibly panicked, stopped the interview and transferred back to the studio.

On Tuesday this week Lizo reported the birth of a son in California to Elton John and David Furnish. Included in Lizo's report was an interview with Stephen Green from an organisation called Christian Voice.

Despite its name, Christian Voice has some extreme views, and Stephen Green is on record as calling on the public to support Uganda's desire to clamp down on homosexuality. Uganda had been considering the death penalty for gay people. Last December, the BBC was criticised for asking the public whether gay people should face execution. The BBC has never issued a proper unequivocal apology for putting the question up for public debate.

The inclusion of Stephen Green's comments in Lizo's report on Tuesday was a big mistake - though it wasn't quite in the same league as last year's 'execute gay people' Have Your Say question.

Currently every time the BBC reports an LGBT-related news item, the Corporation seems to believe that it needs to be 'balanced' with an anti-LGBT point of view. Lizo's report was just the latest example. Mistakes like these will continue unless and until the BBC fully understands and accepts generally held principles of diversity and inclusiveness.

Lizo deserves only part of the blame. After all, years of working for an organisation with a non-inclusive ethos are bound to influence the people employed there.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Could not agree more. While the BBC thinks racism, disability discrimination etc are wrong (which they absolutely are) it seems to think homophobia is just 'the other side of the coin' and needs to be represented.

I would put it to the BBC that there are sections of society that believe black people are inferior, disabled people are being punished for their actions in a past life, women shouldn't vote, and countless other abhorrent views. Where is the BBC's representation of THESE views? Nowhere to be found. Obviously these people are plain WRONG whereas homophobic people are just sensible people with a slightly different opinion.

Makes me MAD - but not half as mad as the debate on execution did! The worst part about that was the "apology" which was actually them saying "we're sorry we've offended you, but actually we're not sorry, cos we're right and you're wrong."