Thursday, October 31, 2013

BBC School Report (part 2)

The BBC is asking schools to sign up for School Report. According to their teacher resources "Truth and accuracy" are two of the BBC's most important news values.

Most people are probably aware that it's illegal to discriminate in the UK on grounds of race, gender, disability and sexual orientation etc. But what they may not know is that the BBC has a number of exemptions from UK laws, including some relating to discrimination, as well as to freedom of information enquiries.

The BBC takes full advantage of its privileges.

As we know, BBC children's TV does not portray LGBT kids or serve LGBT diversity. So why not get your school to take part in order to highlight CBBC's anti-gay discrimination and its reluctance to deal with homophobia and homophobic bullying.

Why aren't there young gay characters on any CBBC drama? The Dumping Ground kids, for example, whether they're black, white, Asian, or disabled are nevertheless always (as far as we know) straight.

Go on, speak to CBBC presenters, speak to Newsround's editor Daniel Clarke, and speak to 'big cheese' Joe Godwin to see what they've got to say for themselves.

"I want this story blown wide open"

Of course, whether the BBC will co-operate with any such investigation is a completely different matter. There's nothing the BBC dislikes more than scrutiny.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

BBC School Report (part 1)

The disappearance of Maddie McCann in May 2007 was widely covered by the British media. Newsround sent out Laura Jones to report on the case from Portugal, and it was the programme's top story on 14th, 15th & 16th May that year. Adam Fleming went to the McCann's home town of Rothley in Leicestershire.

Despite extensive police enquiries the search for Maddie proved fruitless. Some suspect that the parents themselves were involved, and Kate McCann's refusal to answer police questions didn't help.

A letter in May 2011 from Kate & Gerry McCann to Prime Minister David Cameron quickly resulted in Scotland Yard re-opening the case.

On Monday 14th October 2013 Newsround reported that a reconstruction of the night Madeleine McCann went missing would be shown on a special BBC programme as UK police try to gather new information that might help them find her.

The Crimewatch programme, which went out that evening, featured e-fit pictures based on sightings by Martin Smith and family from Ireland. Although quite a lot of tax payers' money has gone towards the case review, and although Crimewatch is funded from the UK TV licence, for some reason neither the police nor the BBC appeared willing to consider that the McCanns may have been in any way responsible.

In January 2008 Martin Smith signed a statement making clear he was 60% - 80% sure that his sighting on 3rd May 2007 was of Gerry McCann carrying Maddie. So if the police and the BBC really want the case solved why were critical facts withheld? Who was in editorial control of the programme? Was it the police, was it the BBC, or was it the McCanns?

Perhaps this is a story some kids might want to cover in a BBC School Report? In any event Newsround Blog will come up with a further School Report suggestion next week.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The first of Newsround's four TV bulletins today began with Leah saying "Hello, happy half-term everyone, you're live with Newsround for Monday's top stories ... "

First Newsround bulletin on Monday 21st Oct 2013

The second Newsround bulletin, at 8.18am, some four minutes earlier than scheduled on CBBC's website began -

Leah: Hello, morning, you're live with Newsround this Monday morning. No school for many of you, so stay right where you are for some of this ...

However, it seems the vast majority of Newsround's audience were not on half-term holiday, although some schools were closed for staff training. Experience has shown that the BBC is disinclined to apologise for any confusion caused as a result of the mistake.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Pop Idol winner Will Young came out as gay in March 2002. He told the News of the World that his family and friends had known for a long time, and that he had decided to tell the newspaper because of the "media pressure" that followed winning the ITV talent show. At the time Newsround reported the story in a positive way.

Nowadays, though, Newsround is somewhat more coy. So Will Young's current campaign to stop the word 'gay' being used in a negative or homophobic context hasn't received even a single mention. However his efforts were reported at the weekend by ex-Newsround presenter, Joe Tidy, who now works for Sky News.

Will Young talking to Sky News reporter, Joe Tidy

Joe Tidy: Singer and song writer Will Young knows all about how words can have profound effects on people. As a gay schoolboy, the word he most wanted to say was also the word he most dreaded.

Will Young: Just to say 'gay' when you're growing up is a huge admission, and I had a lot of shame around that. ...

Joe said 'gay' is still being used in schools as an insult, and Will Young is lobbying the Government to try to change things for the next generation. The campaign is building traction and has the support of some MPs.

Although the campaign against using 'gay' in a homophobic and offensive way in schools wasn't reported by Newsround, they did report, yesterday and today, about a school in Croydon which is trying to stamp out slang words such as 'ain't', 'innit' and 'coz'

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Newsround reports that the torch relay and playing host the the Sochi Olympic games "are a chance for Russia to show off their country, and they want to impress."

From Newsround bulletins yesterday afternoon (4.20pm & 6.50pm) -

Nel: .... But there have already been a few problems. Work on the Olympic venues is thought to have gone massively over budget. And Russia has been criticised about the way it's treated people who came from other countries to work on the site. There's also an issue of weather, after fears there may not be enough snow in Sochi because of a milder winter. They've been stocking up just in case, and keeping their fingers crossed that it doesn't melt.

The bit about stocking up on snow was also reported a while back, on 25th August. But so far Newsround hasn't breathed a word about widespread concerns over Russia's new anti-gay legislation. It's as if bosses in charge of Newsround consider that news to be "homosexual propaganda"

The BBC Trust works on behalf of licence fee payers to ensure that the BBC provides high quality services and good value for everyone in the UK. One of the ways they do this is by carrying out an in-depth review of each of the BBC's services at least once every 5 years, and part of the review is a public consultation so they can hear your views. The current review of BBC News and Current Affairs will be looking at all news and current affairs output that is broadcast or available to the whole of the UK on BBC TV, Radio and Online.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

British children are getting yet another opportunity to see the Canadian award-winning series Wingin' It. The series was nominated for the Shaw Rocket Prize in 2011 by a panel of judges which included Director of BBC Children's, Joe Godwin. A Canada-wide kids jury had the final say.

I've previously demonstrated that Wingin' It is a heterosexist/heteronormative programme.

So where does the Shaw Rocket Fund stand when it comes to diversity? That issue was investigated earlier this year, when I asked the organisation if they could advise the extent to which they take account of LGBT inclusion when funding decisions are made. Their lack of a response suggested that it is not a matter of any concern to them, either now or in the future.

The BBC, on the other hand, including BBC Worldwide, is bound by Creative Diversity Network principles. So the question arises as to why Joe Godwin continues to assist the Shaw Rocket Fund. This year he was offering his services as a mentor for the Shaw Rocket Fund annual Mentorship Program in partnership with the Banff World Media Festival. Whether or not the Mr Godwin's mentorship expenses are paid for out of the UK TV licence fee is still unclear, and a freedom of information request to the BBC would likely prove fruitless.