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Posts Tagged ‘media’

Wrong: Haitians in rubbles from BBC gallery

January 13, 2010 13 comments

One picture is worth 1,000 words. The cliché says. However, BBC’s selection of pictures about Haiti earthquake seem quite inappropriate.     

BBC news site picture of Haiti earthquake

 

This picture has strong visual impact, isn’t it?  

Click on it or go to BBC website to see it in enlarged size. Look at it very carefully. Now tell me how you feel.  

Don’t you think that BBC is actually ‘playing’ with people’s miserable life, even if just slightly?  

The women with a dust face got her body below chest stuck in ruins, together with another two who were almost unidentifiable, one of whom had his/her head and body in red blood.  

Is it appropriate that BBC published this photo?  

Pictures in other media

BBC didn’t take this photo. It was from AFP.  

In fact, none of the 17 photos in its gallery was credited to BBC. Most of them were from AFP, several from AP and Getty Image, and one from the Red Cross.  

This explains why you can see the same images in other media such as The Times or The Telegraph.  

The Times Haiti story

 

The Telegraph Haiti Story

 

However, neither Times nor Telegraph selected that photo that BBC used. If you go through all the photos, you’ll see they are more reserved than BBC in using photos that feature seriously injured people.  

Who makes the decision?

The answer to this question is simple. It’s the editor on duty who decides which photos get published.  

However, the question might actually not so simple as it looks. Behind the simple ‘go’ or ‘down’ decision is the style, or principle of each media institution.  

BBC saw that picture, so did the Times and the Telegraph, most probably. But they made different choices.  

BBC knew well that some of its photos including the one we talked just now might offend some people, so they put up a warning on the first page saying “This gallery contains pictures some readers might find disturbing”.  

But does that justify its ‘playing with people’s miserable life’?  

I’m not a person who gets easily disturbed, but this picture really makes me feel bad about those Haitians hit by the earthquake, especially how their catastrophic lives were depicted by BBC

Briton executed in China over drugs

December 29, 2009 2 comments

A British man convicted of drug smuggling was executed in China today. BBC’s coverage of the story lacks balance, fairness, objectivity and impartiality.

BBC top story of British man executed in China

Top story on BBC news front page on 29 Dec

The British man Akmal Shaikh was executed for smuggling 4 kgs of heroin into Urumqi, Xinjiang in the north-west of China.

UK government and Akmal’s families made repeated pleas for clemency and visited him in Urumqi this weekend.

BBC has been following the story heavily in the past few days, and the execution became its top story today.

The headline: good and/or bad

On its news front page, the headline is “China executes Briton over drugs”.

By criteria of headline writing, this is undoubtedly a good one. With just five words, it tells who did what and how and why. It even hinted where and when.

Besides, it uses an active verb. This is where the editor shows off his wisdom.

People who get killed usually become the subject in a headline, e.g. “Man killed in harbour car plunge in Cornwall”, and “Iran protesters killed, including Mousavi’s nephew”. However, the editor obviously wants to put the blame on China.

Let’s compare BBC headline and my headline for this post.

  • China executes Briton over drugs
  • Briton executed in China over drugs

Is “China” a specific person who did the execution? Which appeals to the British readers more, China or Briton? And does two letters longer really matter here?

Now let’s click to read the story. Oops, the headline changed. Now it reads “British man said to be mentally ill executed in China”. Interesting, hah?

Wait a minute. What is that “said to be”? If you are not sure of something, make sure of it, or don’t talk about it. How can you even put it in a headline?

EU national Vs. Briton

Let’s move on. Here comes the third paragraph:

The execution took place despite repeated calls from his family and the British government for clemency.

This sounds ridiculous to me, well, because of the structure of the sentence, especially the use of that “despite”. UK government and his family called for clemency, so what? Should China let the man go just because some guys made the plea?

The prime minister Gordon Brown also made fun of himself by saying “am appalled and disappointed that our persistent requests for clemency have not been granted”.

Okay, you are the almighty PM, so whatever you request, we have to grant. Is that what you mean?

However, this is not the worst part. One paragraph down, the following sentence stands out.

Mr Shaikh is the first EU national to be executed in China in 50 years.

If I’m not mistaken, this is the first time that BBC used EU national referring to Mr. Akmal Shaikh. What’s the point, please? Is this impartial? What are you trying to “achieve” here, soliciting sympathy from other EU members so that they will join you condemning China? You wish.

Keep journalists code of conduct OUT of mind

Two paragraphs down, BBC brought up the man’s mental illness issue again. Let me give you some key points from the article:

  • family said he suffered from bipolar disorder
  • They said he had been delusional
  • Mr Brown: particularly concerned that no mental health assessment was undertaken.

According to Richard Sambrook, Director of BBC World service and Global News Division, “Balance means arranging things in equal or correct proportions to one another. ”

If BBC is indeed balanced, where are the explanations from the Chinese side?

Don’t tell me you can’t get China’s officials to talk. They have explained this a long time ago. Besides, your Chinese correspondent should have told you about the procedure of asking for mental illness verification in court.

If you keep on reading, you’ll see all quotes are against China. Don’t you think this is biased?

The article also quotes legal charity Reprieve’s communication director saying that “he (Akmal) was frankly failed by China and by their legal system”.

An opinionated and false accusation. Can China sue for defamation? The quotation marks doesn’t prevent you from being sued.

Role of media

In the past few days, the Chinese media remained absolutely silent about the story. Equally oddly, the British media showed excessive enthusiasm while the public didn’t appear to be very much interested.

After all, it is a man who committed felony in China and was trialed and sentenced in accordance with China’s laws. It’s a criminal case, as simple as that.

What the UK government and Mr. Shaikh’s family were trying to do was to ask the Chinese government to overrule the court’s decision.

However, aren’t they used to criticise the Chinese government for their intervention into judicial independence?

What do they apply double systems when a British man is involved?

And what role have the British media played? Is it right for them to allocate so much space or air time for the drug smuggler story? Are they acting as the mouthpiece of the British government as they always accuse their Chinese counterparts for doing so?

All in all, can a public service broadcaster really stay independent, willingly or unwillingly?

Update at 10:00 am: The Telegrpaph also puts the story on its front page. Their reporting is much better in terms of following journalistic code of conducts.

Can they save the British man sentenced to death in China

December 28, 2009 Leave a comment

UK government, media and families of a Briton sentenced to death in China are making their last effort to save his life, with only 24 hours left before his execution.

Akmal Shaikh was arrested for carrying 5-kg heroin in Xinjiang Airport. Under China’s zero-tolerance drug policy, he was sentenced to death months later.

His finally appeal was rejected and his execution will take place on 29 December 2009.

His families and some UK officials have flown to Urumqi on 27 December to visit Akmal, and will make a last plea for clemency from the Chinese government.

UK prime minister Gordon Brown has also written to Chinese officials including President Hu Jintao asking China to spare the British man’s life.

Chinese media Vs. British media

Almost all UK media report this story these few days, including BBC, Channel 4, Itv, The Times, The Telegraph, The Guardian, you name it.

Akmal was on the frontpage of newspaper or in the headlines of TV and radio programmes. The only competitor was the failed terrorist attack on a US plane by a Nigerian man.

On the contrary, the Chinese media kept silent about this story. Not a single word on the mainstream media.

This is quite different from over two months ago when Akmal making his second appeal to China’s Supreme Court.

A journalist back in China confirmed to me that no written notices from the central government were given, but there was an oral instruction, telling them to follow the Foreign Ministry. As the foreign ministry says nothing so far, there is no reporting at all.

Kill or not kill

The journalist also said that he didn’t believe the Englishman would be actually executed.

He said that the Chinese government “banned” reporting of this story was a proof. The government would let him go, but wanted to save face at the same time.

We don’t know if Akmal will be killed or not.

In China, shooting in the head is a normal execution method. If Akmal is indeed executed, I don’t believe this method will be used. Electric chair or injection seems to be more appropriate.

Kill or not kill, China is now facing a difficult choice.

Media monitoring report

October 28, 2009 Leave a comment

Royal Mail and the Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) have been in a protracted dispute over pay, jobs and working conditions. CWU threatened to call for national strike. If a national strike does take place, it will cost the British government £1.5b; about 9.2m people who will file their tax returns by post will be affected; the company risks losing more clients besides Amazon; small businesses will find themselves in trouble for failing to deliver goods to customers; and an estimated backlog of 30m letters and parcels will build up in the company’s sorting offices. This issue has become one with such vital public importance that all types of media including newspapers, radio, TV and online websites have been covering it on a daily basis. Different types of media, however, used different ways in their reporting. This paper studied the news reporting of this issue on newspaper The Times, BBC TV and website The Guardian, examining how they approached the story, how they moved it along, what kind of languages they used, whom they interviewed, etc. Apart from that, this paper made comparisons of news coverage on the three media. News reporting monitoring lasted for three days from 15 October 2009 to 17 October 2009.

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