BBC News has had to change an article after people pointed out that part of it was blatantly false. The story was about people affected by the National Union of Rail, Transport and Maritime Workers’ (RMT’s) strikes. However, the problem with the BBC piece is that it still left more false claims in the article. Overall, it shows the entrenched pro-government bias of the supposed ‘public service’ broadcaster.
BBC: a dodgy article
On Thursday 8 December, the BBC published an article called:
‘Rail strikes mean I won’t see my son over Christmas’
Owen will no longer be able to see his son over the festive period due to the Christmas rail worker strikes.
The 34-year-old from Doncaster was planning to travel to see his 12-year-old boy who lives with his mother in Derby on 27 December, but will not make it because of the walkouts.
BBC News continued by saying:
Having supported strikes earlier in the year, Owen says he’s now against them due to the festive strikes “ruining” his Christmas.
“I have always been a staunch socialist…but it’s been a year now,” he says. “Enough is enough.”
However, there was a problem with Owen’s story – as people on Twitter pointed out:
I see Owen the ‘staunch socialist’ who is opposing the strikes and gives this article its title has now been removed from the story after readers pointed out he could simply use the regular bus service from Doncaster to Derby on 27 December for around £20. Shocking reporting. https://t.co/em3Z7Im3hc pic.twitter.com/z3iTdkf5P8
— Joe Guinan (@joecguinan) December 8, 2022
The Canary has checked the bus times (unlike the BBC), and there are indeed buses from Doncaster to Derby on 27 December.
So, the BBC tweeted it had made an error, once it had changed the article:
We’ve deleted the original version of this tweet, after the story was updated to remove an interview with an individual whose travel plans are unlikely to be affected by the strikeshttps://t.co/vJdL2hhKbX
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) December 8, 2022
The BBC also added in a story to the edited version from “Jamie”, who was more supportive of the strikes.
However, the article was still wrong – as one Twitter user pointed out, there was another inaccurate story in the updated version:
Your interviewee Sarah Harris believes trains from London to Kent will finish early on 15 Dec, either stranding her in London or forcing her to leave her Christmas party early. The Southeastern website confirms that will not be the case: https://t.co/FiMjtHTyw5 pic.twitter.com/7sGcVyeA3F
— Gary Dunion (@garydunion) December 8, 2022
Again, the Canary checked this, and indeed there’s a normal train service on the night of 15 December. Michael Race, who wrote the story, had originally put out a request on Twitter for people to talk to him:
— Michael Race (@MRaceBBC) December 5, 2022
It seems that Race failed to fact check the claims of people who got in touch with him. This is contrary to the BBC‘s own guidelines on what it calls “user-generated content”. So, as one Twitter user summed up:
absolutely incredible that you would publish a verifiably false bit of information in your story for the bbc. is your disinformation reporter going to do a piece on you?
did you always grow up and get in to journalism wanting to be a lickspittle or did you just see the money?
BBC: punching down as always
Where to begin with all this?
The basic level of fact checking by the BBC is dire. Then, there’s the issue that Race’s article originally only had comment from people who didn’t support the strikes – zero balance from a public service broadcaster. Plus, there’s the fact that the article got past editors in the first place – showing that when it comes to accuracy around workers, the BBC is unconcerned.
However, the larger problem here is that this is typical BBC establishment punching down – pitting citizen against citizen while absolving those in power of responsibility. This is despite BBC chairman Richard Sharp’s claims of a “liberal bias” at the organisation. Funny he’d say that – given that he’s donated over £400,000 to the Tories. So, it seems the BBC agenda of bias towards the government and the powerful continues – even when it is blatantly biased journalism, not fit for GCSE Media Studies.
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