BBC News at Six last night was a revelation. Because it proved the broadcaster can get it right

St Petersburg BBC
Support us and go ad-free

BBC News at Six on 3 April was revelatory. Because it proved the public broadcaster can get it right. And only two weeks ago, a Guardian journalist slammed the BBC for getting it wrong on the exact same issue.

So has the BBC had a change of heart? Or is this seeming transformation just more cynicism in action?

The St Petersburg attack

On 3 April, an explosion happened in St Petersburg, Russia. A bomb exploded on the metro system in the city, killing 14 people and injuring another 49. A further bomb was found at another station. But it did not explode:

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

On News at Six, the BBC led with the “metro blast”. And it spoke about the incident for less than five minutes at the start of the programme.

This is in stark contrast to the rolling coverage it gave to the Westminster attack on 22 March. Its excessive reporting on that attack led Guardian journalist Simon Jenkins to assert that the BBC had “opted… with the terrorist”. He explained:

You have a choice of prominence. The prominence given to them [terrorist] now, I think, is aiding and abetting terrorism. I really feel that. You should choose to treat it as a crime.

What preceded the attack?

There was something else very striking about the BBC coverage of the St Petersburg attack. After explaining what had taken place, the BBC turned its attentions to Russian President Vladimir Putin. It said that Putin had described the attack as a “tragedy”. And that he had stated the investigation would look into “all explanations” for the cause of the explosion. But News at Six then explained:

It’s now 18 months since President Putin authorised airstrikes in Syria. An operation he said was to fight terrorism.

The BBC also detailed that there were Russians who had travelled to fight with Daesh (Isis/Isil); and that Putin wanted to stop them returning to Russia and planning attacks. This narrative was accompanied by images of fighter jets taking off, missiles then dropping from these planes, and the subsequent explosions on the ground.

Context for some, not for others

In short, the BBC gave context to the St Petersburg attack. But that is not necessarily the case with other incidents; ones that happen to the UK and its allies. How many times in its vast coverage of the Westminster attack, for example, did the BBC reference the actions of the US-led coalition, of which the UK is a part, in Syria and Iraq? A coalition which has reportedly killed increasing numbers of civilians in recent weeks.

At the same time, the public broadcaster didn’t go overboard with the time it gave to coverage of the tragedy.

If the BBC applied the same logic (on both counts) to attacks that happen in the West, we’d all be better off.

But perhaps that’s not the sort of narrative the BBC feels it should deliver to the British people. About Britain, that is.

Get Involved

– Find out what’s going on in the world with The Canary Global.

Featured image via Twitter/Wikimedia

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed