On 23 April, a new royal baby was born. Yes: a rich couple, funded by the UK taxpayer, had their third child. And the ensuing sycophantic coverage from the mainstream media ensured this dominated the news cycle.
But it was the BBC‘s coverage that was particularly disgusting. Because we should be expecting better from our public service broadcaster – and bias isn’t just about what is in a story, it’s about story selection and what stories are highlighted.
And while the BBC news homepage devoted its coverage to one new baby, children were being killed in an airstrike in Yemen – aided and abetted by the UK arms trade.
How many stories on one child do we really need?
This was the BBC News homepage on 23 April:
Yes, we really needed that live timeline of “First glimpse of the new prince” and details of when Kate will leave hospital; not to mention speculation on names, visits from siblings, and analysis of being the third-born.
And yes, we do expect this type of coverage from the likes of the Daily Mail and the Express. Royal news is one of their staples. And if we didn’t already avoid these papers for their disgusting racist right-wing coverage, the fawning over the royals would be enough to send most vaguely leftist readers running for the hills.
But the question remains, should we accept this type of coverage from our public service broadcaster?
As the royal baby news broke, at least 20 people were killed in Yemen after a Saudi-led coalition airstrike allegedly hit a wedding party. According to Khaled al-Nadhri, the leading health official in the area, many of those killed were children. The dead also included the bride. 45 people were reportedly injured – 30 of them children. The Independent said the children “suffered severed limbs and shrapnel wounds”.
This was reportedly the third deadly airstrike in days. One hit a house, killing a family of five. And another hit a commuter bus, killing at least 20 civilians.
In fairness to the BBC, it did report the wedding bombing. But it was on the world news page and not given any prominence.
It is not known at this stage who made the planes and bombs used in this latest attack. But we do know that the UK has licensed $6.4bn worth of arms to Saudi Arabia since the war in Yemen began in 2015. This includes jets and munitions. And there is no dispute that Typhoon and Tornado aircraft sold by BAE Systems to Saudi Arabia have been deployed on combat missions in the war on Yemen.
UNICEF reported in December 2017 that more than 5,000 children have been killed or injured in Yemen since the conflict began. Cholera and acute diarrhoea have affected over a million people and 8.4 million people are at risk of starvation.
But it’s a baby!
But a white baby was born to rich people. A white baby that’s umpteenth in line for the throne. Obviously, that’s more important than Brown children killed and suffering life-changing injuries in an attack by a government that is wined and dined by Theresa May.
No one is arguing that the BBC shouldn’t cover the royal birth. Because notwithstanding your views on the monarchy, there is undeniably public interest. But the prominence and the extent of the coverage is an issue. And it’s important to remember that every story the BBC covers – every story it chooses to highlight and sprawl over its homepage – contributes to its bias. Story selection is just as important as story content.
So if you weren’t already feeling sick about the BBC‘s coverage of the royal birth, you probably are now.
– Support Campaign Against Arms Trade in its ongoing work against arms sales.
Featured image via Flickr/Tim Loudon
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?