The BBC was just caught editing a headline and making Johnson sound better

BBC logo and Boris Johnson
Support us and go ad-free

The BBC has just changed a headline to an already published article. What’s more, it’s altered it in a way that favours Boris Johnson.

Johnson: out and about

The PM is never far from the headlines. And as the Guardian reported, on Sunday 8 March he hit them again as he visited Worcestershire. Flooding this year has hit the county badly. So as the Guardian noted:

The prime minister arrived on the banks of the River Severn in Bewdley on Sunday afternoon, and was taken to view flood defences by Environment Agency staff.

However, some members of the public heckled Johnson in fury that he has stayed away from the affected areas until now – instead spending the half-term break in one of the government’s grace-and-favour mansions in Kent.

The BBC also reported on Johnson’s visit. But there was a problem.

Altering the news…

As ‘The Labour Leftie’ tweeted:

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

As the WayBack Machine confirmed, the first BBC headline it had saved was this:

BBC Boris original headline

What’s more, another headline that people saw on search engines was:

Boris Johnson heckled as ‘traitor’ during floods visit to…

BBC Boris second headline

Now, as of Monday 9 March at 4pm, the headline reads:

Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits flood-hit Bewdley

But the BBC made a fatal error. Because the preview of the article that appears on social media had not changed:

BBC Boris social media headline Twitter

The BBC also changed the opening of the article. Originally it said:

The prime minister has received a mixed reaction during a visit to a flood-hit town.

But the current opening sentence is now Johnson-friendly, saying:

The prime minister has said he will look at making defences more permanent as he visited a flood-hit town.

Propaganda territory?

It’s hard to see any other reason for the BBC changing the above except that the original was mildly negative towards the PM. But even the headline of “mixed reception” appears balanced, so it seems ridiculous that our state broadcaster would neuter it. Then again, it’s hardly surprising given that, for example, the BBC twice edited out negative audience reactions to Johnson during the run-up to the 2019 election.

The other problem is the BBC hasn’t told readers that it’s changed the article. It’s a standard media practice to make clear if you have updated an article. Outlets like the Mirror, Daily Mail and the Sun always have an “updated” note at the top of an article with the time it changed. But not at the BBC, where readers are left none the wiser to it’s dodgy manoeuvres.

This is our state broadcaster at its worst: sneakily reframing an article while wilfully keeping readers in the dark about it. It goes well beyond the realms of impartiality. And it once again moves the BBC into subservient, propaganda-outlet territory.

Featured image via Wikipedia and Guardian News – YouTube

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