Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Orla Watch Update

Another Orla email from the BBC via Honest Reporting:
Thank you for your e-mail.

I appreciate that you felt a recent BBC News report from Orla Guerin was biased against Israel.

I should state that Orla Guerin's report on the 14th August from Bint Jbeil in Southern Lebanon made clear at the start that she was reporting on the perspective of Lebanese people returning home in their thousands.

She reported: "I haven't seen a single building that isn't damaged in some way. Many have been flattened. Many have been singed. This town has really been wiped out."

Orla did not say that every building had been wiped out. She was using an impressionistic phrase implying extreme damage which is justified by the scale of what she saw.

Nevertheless, I do acknowledge your concerns and will ensure that your comments on all matters are fully registered and made available to news editors and indeed senior management within the BBC. Feedback of this nature helps us when making decisions about future BBC programmes and services and your views will most certainly play a part in this process.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact us.
Got that? "She was using an impressionistic phrase implying extreme damage which is justified by the scale of what she saw."

So she was talking bullshit, but it was justified bullshit.

Who needs facts when you've got the BBC?

Update 2.30pm. I’ve just discovered that last Thursday's Daily Mail had an article about the Bint Jbeil reports from Guerin and Thomson:
The differences were picked up initially by internet bloggers who voiced their criticism of Ms Guerin on the BBC website.

The Israeli Embassy in London also weighed in, saying: 'Unfortunately, we have a long list of concerns relating to the BBC's coverage of the Hezbollah crisis,' said a spokesman.

'With regards to this specific issue, against the background of other TV reports from the same area, it looks as though the BBC's report contains selectivity.

'In this case especially, viewers can judge for themselves whether or not the BBC has portrayed an accurate picture of facts on the ground.'
Indeed.

Now check out what the BBC said in response:
'Anyone who saw the pictures would find it hard to contest the scale of destruction,' said a spokesman.
Anyone who saw just the Orla Guerin footage, and that alone, would find it hard to contest the scale of destruction. In effect the BBC is saying:
“Orla Guerin’s claim that the town was wiped out must be true because it’s all there in a report by Orla Guerin.”
[Stops to bang head against brick wall]

With this logic the BBC could defend its reporters against any accusations:
"Orla Guerin was criticised yesterday for saying that the moon is made of cheese. A BBC spokesman said, 'Orla Guerin’s claim that the moon is made of cheese is supported by evidence in a report from Orla Guerin in which she clearly says the moon is made of cheese.'"
In a recent article titled “Photojournalism in crisis”, David D. Perlmutter of the University of Kansas School of Journalism & Mass Communications discussed the response of media organisations to the recent examples of fauxtography in Lebanon. He concentrates on photographs, but his points are equally valid for all forms of journalistic inaccuracy:
It does not help that certain news organizations have acted like government officials or corporate officers trying to squash a scandal.

Admit mistakes right away. Correct them with as much fanfare and surface area as you devoted to the original image.
The BBC’s response to criticism is very similar to that of government ministers: don’t admit to mistakes, dismiss the accusations, obfuscate, and repeat the original lie with even more conviction. Instead of acknowledging that Alex Thomson’s report disproved Guerin’s exaggerated claim that Israel had wiped out the town, the BBC has re-stated her falsehoods. As Behaimah points out in the comments, the use of ‘impressionistic phrases’ to ‘imply’ a situation is deemed more worthy than actual visual evidence. Why let the facts get in the way of your political agenda, especially when your bosses will back you all the way. Welcome to post-modern news, BBC-style.

Previously.

Orla Guerin - Busted.
Orla Update - causing a stir.
They came in their thousands.
Orla.
Orla - a reply of sorts.
Orla Watch.

24 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Obviously the standard email that gets sent out, my reply was exactly the same - word for word.
Perhaps we should all write now and tell them that now we understand, she was taling bullshit, but justified bullshit.

8:55 am  
Anonymous La Boheme said...

Maybe a new word has entered the vocabulary...

Orla n. Foolish words or speech; nonsense.

Example: "I think you're talking Orla".

9:44 am  
Anonymous Curmy said...

I got exactly the same e-mail from the BBC.

10:15 am  
Anonymous max said...

lb,
Great idea. It might catch.

Orla n.(2) The act of spreading daft distortions.

Example: Pounce, it would help if you would actually read the stories you link to instead of perpetrating Orlas.

11:28 am  
Blogger behaimah said...

"She was using an impressionistic phrase implying extreme damage which is justified by the scale of what she saw."


Point 1 - I didn't realise that we're not supposed to take BBC reporter's words as fact, but rather merely metaphor.

Point 2 – Surely, the medium of TV does not require ‘impressionistic phrase’ when one can actually show the ACTUAL image.

Point 3 – Regardless of the fact that it was an ‘impressionistic phrase’, the report is still inaccurate, for the suburbs were (and now I’ll use an ‘impressionistic phrase’) unscathed.


"“This town has really been wiped out." Orla did not say that every building had been wiped out."

Has the person who wrote this letter gone mad. You’re right she didn’t say every building has been wiped out, she said “town”. Which means every building, road, bridge, traffic light, street sign etc etc, had been wiped out. Or are a buildings not part of a town.

You know you've got someone on the ropes, when they issue a reply like this. Bit like when an 8 year old tries to cover up a lie.

12:54 pm  
Anonymous Clematis Fraudster said...

"Orla Guerin's report on the 14th August from Bint Jbeil in Southern Lebanon made clear at the start that she was reporting on the perspective of Lebanese people returning home in their thousands.

"She was using an impressionistic phrase implying extreme damage which is justified by the scale of what she saw."

Dunno about anyone else but it seems to me that, in these two paras, the BBC is saying that her report was a personal view (i.e. that it was a piece of op-ed and therefore biased).

There is none of the usual spiel about commitment to 'standards', 'fairness' and 'balance'.

In other words, this is BBC code for, "Yes, it was her opinion. So fecking what?"

2:24 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nation shall speak impressionistic phrase unto nation

2:35 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

dfh:

Sorry this is a bit ot, but please do check the following planned q&a at the BBC website: 'Ask bombed-out residents in Lebanon'

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/5273772.stm

Let's hope they get asked the right questions.

5:02 pm  
Blogger DFH said...

'Ask bombed-out residents in Lebanon'

It sounds like one of those advice columns from the Onion.

Dear Bombed-out residents in Lebanon,
My girlfriend says she wants a baby, but I’m not sure I’m ready to be a father. I love her very much and fear losing her. What should I do?
- Dave.

Dear Dave,
Death to Israel! Death to America!
- Bombed-out residents in Lebanon.

5:43 pm  
Anonymous La Boheme said...

Or the response could be:

Dear Dave,

Don't ask us; ask Orla.

- Bombed-out residents in Lebanon.

5:52 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Or...

Dear dave

Is the baby really yours or is it a Zionist plot?

Bombed-out residents in Lebanon

6:47 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok .. well it's Orla Guerin, BBC Impressionist from now on.

Oh, any what happened to reporting the truth not impressions.

Remembering the Bint Jbeil was a Hezbollah stronghold we get from the Beeb that Orla was "reporting on the perspective of Lebanese people".

Where in her report did she say was "reporting on the perspective of Lebanese people"?

If she had of said the Hezbollah sympathies and possibly some terrorists think that the town had been wiped out, and then shown us the true picture of the town, viewers could decide for themselves.

Instead we got "reporting on the perspective of Lebanese people" aka Hezbollah propaganda.

I think someone needs a followup letter to the Beeb on this basis.

7:54 pm  
Anonymous PJ said...

Not being as erudite as a BBC employee I can't say that the word "impressionistic" is one that regularly comes up my in everyday conversation so I felt obliged to consult a dictionary or three.
A typical entry here: http:// www.thefreedictionary.com...impressionistic
gives three definitions;
1. Of, relating to, or practicing impressionism.
2. Of, relating to, or predicated on impression as opposed to reason or fact: impressionistic memories of early childhood.
3. Impressionable.

I don't suppose Orla's many talents extend to painting and being described as impressionable is hardly a recommendation for a senior journalist so one can only presume that the BBC is using the word in it's second context ie "predicated on impression as opposed to reason or fact"
It would appear that in their own convoluted way they are admitting that Orla lied.

8:00 pm  
Blogger Guftafs said...

I haven't receieved any reply from the BBC yet, but then I called her piece of reporting "atrocious" and I urged them to immediately disassociate themselves from her in order not to damage their already shaken reputation for "fair and balanced" reporting.

How do you make our politicians aware of this and spur them to action? Talk to your MP?

8:20 pm  
Blogger Charles Martel said...

so there we have it. in black and white.
bbc news output is just an "impression".

my 4 year old can give an "impression" of something. doesnt mean that she knows the full facts.

9:51 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

orla guerin = liar'n'rogue (anagram & fact))

9:54 pm  
Anonymous La Boheme said...

Anonymous - well done on the anagram!

12:41 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks la boheme,
i thought it was more appropriate than Urinal Ogre... but who knows what she gets up to in her spare time?

1:22 am  
Anonymous La Boheme said...

Maybe she's an...Airlounger? Our Iran Gel may have had an Gun Role IRA? Go Rule Iran!

9:42 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hehe!..
but i doubt she's encouraging the US to do that last one...

10:12 am  
Anonymous La Boheme said...

I doubt it also but I bet she's thinking it..

Couldn't resist this anagram (I can't take credit for it btw):

President Clinton of the USA: To Copulate he finds interns

10:42 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Couldn't resist sending the Beeb an email after reading their feeble response:


I was deeply disturbed by the distorted report of Ms. Guerin broadcasting from the Lebanonese village of Bint Jbeil on BBC Television on 14th August.

I am aware that there has been considerable disquiet about the accuracy of this report. Indeed, as you are aware a balanced Channel 4 news report of the same day contrasted Ms Guerin's emotive report.

I feel compelled to write a letter of complaint based on the comments made by the BBC in a standard letter of response in relation to justified complaints Ms. Guerin's partisan reporting from Lebanon.

In your letter, the BBC states (http://backspin.typepad.com/backspin/2006/08/an_impressionis.html):

1. "[Orla] made clear at the start that she was reporting on the perspective of Lebanese people returning home in their thousands."

This does not therefore constitute news, it is opinion. The role of a journalist is to cast a critical eye and provide factual evidence-based reporting. Moreover, accepting that Bint Jbeil is a terrorist stronghold of Hezbollah, it is disappointing that this partisan reporting was permitted by the BBC Editors. What happened to editorial independence on this occasion?

2. "She reported: "I haven't seen a single building that isn't damaged in some way. Many have been flattened. Many have been singed. This town has really been wiped out."

Orla did not say that every building had been wiped out. She was using an impressionistic phrase implying extreme damage which is justified by the scale of what she saw."

The inference was clearly that the village had been destroyed. This was incorrect. Ms Guerin is enjoys using emotive storytelling at the expense of factual reconstruction.

You may wish to reflect upon the definition of impressionism thus;

a. Of, relating to, or practicing impressionism.
b. Of, relating to, or predicated on impression as opposed to reason or fact: impressionistic memories of early childhood.
c. Impressionable.

3. I would ask, in future, that reporters providing 'impressionist perspectives' as opposed to facts preface all comments with reference to opinion, such as 'Local believe...'.

This is in stark contrast to the fiction stated as fact "I haven't seen a single building that isn't damaged in some way." that Ms. Guerin did in her report of 14 August. The use of "I" belies the fact that she is reporting from a Lebanese perspective. Should she in fact me "they" she is referring to some people (terrorists, sympathisers or citizens) from the terrorist stronghold of Bint Jbeil.

In striving to uphold editorial independence and accuracy in reporting I would respectfully ask that the BBC reflect on the damage to its credibility and integrity such partisan emotive reporting.

10:54 am  
Blogger DFH said...

Anonymous 10:54 - If you get a reply to that email I hope you'll share it with us.

11:24 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

DFH, yes indeed I will share the response (if any). I sent the complaint via the normal Beeb complaints system and also to the Head of News.

How can the possibly keep defending her?

3:20 pm  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home