The BBC has got the Welsh nation up in arms after a ham-fisted six-minute ‘debate’ on the 9 August edition of Newsnight. The programme makers were accused of making “journalistic fools” of themselves.
Newsnight ran a segment [from 22:50] asking “is the Welsh language a help or hindrance to the nation” and invited author Julian Ruck, who has published several articles attacking funding for the Welsh language, to contribute. Unfortunately, they also asked Ruth Dawson, a non-Welsh speaker and editor of The Conversation, to defend the Welsh language; a decision which has gone down like a lead balloon with Welsh speakers.
This comes in the same week the Welsh nation celebrates its tradition and diversity in the National Eisteddfod held in Bodedern, Anglesey:
Independent review call after BBC ‘make fools of themselves’ over Welsh language https://t.co/2jpYBwGRRx
— Nation.Cymru (@NationCymru) August 10, 2017
During the debate, Ruck said [from 28:34]:
You are talking about £150m a year. Now if you say to someone who is dependent on the health service they have to wait because of XYZ, they are not going to be happy with that if they know this money is going to the Welsh language.
Concerns have been growing about the BBC attitude to the Welsh language following several critical articles before the National Eisteddfod over the past few years. And The Canary has also reported its bias and sometimes lax attitude towards reporting during the election campaign:
Who the **** is Julian Ruck? No? Me neither. And maybe #Newsnight could have dredged up, I dunno, a Welsh speaker to talk about it?
— David Banks (@DBanksy) August 9, 2017
— Rhun ap Iorwerth (@RhunapIorwerth) August 9, 2017
Welsh language in Wales
The amount of people with a rudimentary knowledge of Welsh is rising steadily due to implementation of the Welsh Language Act in 1993. This makes Welsh language teaching compulsory in schools. It nearly died out in South Wales during the 1960s as most schools were English-only. Since the introduction of compulsory Welsh language teaching, Welsh is being spoken more regularly. And it is actually thriving in some parts of the country:
— Carolyn Hitt (@carolyn_hitt) August 10, 2017
Welsh under attack
A BBC spokesperson told The Canary:
Whilst different perspectives were included in this item on the Welsh language, the discussion of such an important subject would have benefited from more thorough analysis and debate. We regret that, but believe it was important to look at this topic and we will do so again in the future.
Speaking Welsh in Wales is as valuable to our British traditions as speaking English in England. As one of the oldest indigenous European languages, it has a right of place and demands respect, especially for those who have fought so long and hard to reignite passion for their mother tongue. Maybe the BBC should learn never to pick a fight with a dragon.
–Learn more and support the Welsh language society.
Featured image via Flickr