For some reason (no Newsnight on tonight according to the BBC2 website which showed the Newsnight Review program twice) I watched ITV News tonight, straight after having already watched BBC News, my standard. What a difference – and not a good one. Of course, ITV is a commercial station, but I had not idea it was quite so sensationalist.
Here is how the two News programs ran the story about the unsuccessful car bombs left in London on Thursday night:
The flavour of the BBC News report
Last night two car bombs were successfuly disarmed by security forces in Central London. This evening it was already business as usual as Londoners went back to the West End intent on celebrating the weekend. Everybody was calm, those interviewed said it wasn’t going to bother them. The reporter said most people seemed to be treating it as just another inconvenience that delays the buses and tubes (which is probably exactly how we Brits do treat things like this).
The flavour of the ITV News report
Shock! Horror! Two unexploded Baghdad style car bombs disrupted London today. Police cordoned off the centre of London after the killer bombs were found near Trafalgar Square and Downing Street. If they had gone off hundreds could have died. Imagine how awful this could have been! This could have been London’s worst terrorist attack! Many people out to enjoy themselves could have died! Look at all the nails I have in my hands next to these petrol and gas canisters in a car that looks like the one the bombers tried to murder hundreds of people with! Imagine what the nails could have done, killing and maiming innocent people like you, and me! Every reporter they had on the story said exactly the same thing – about what could have happened rather than what did happen. (They forgot to add that an asteroid could have landed on the Capital today that could have ended all life on the planet, propelled by an evil Empire of insect like aliens who could have fed on the corpses of millions of victims and the few survivors who would be writhing in agony as they were eaten alive).
Well, I think ITV played right into the terrorists hands there. Terrorism only works when you allow yourself to be scared into ways of living that you would not choose if you were not scared.
The BBC on the other hand were calm, professional, factual, truthful, and didn’t embellish the truth with wild speculations and over-descriptive scaremongering as ITV had done. The ITV report was pathetic.
To be fair, the ITV London News report that followed the main ITV news was a lot better. In this they actually said much the same as the BBC had done, concentrating on the reality of people just getting on with life and not really being bothered. In fact they even said that while the terrorists had been unsuccessful in scaring people off the streets, a rainstorm that settled in for the evening cleared people from the streets later on in the evening. This provided the scenes of empty (but wet) streets that the main ITV news ran with commentary saying the emptiness had been caused by the terrorists. Most irresponsible.
ITV – Whoever the editor for the main ITV news was tonight should be sacked or sent to report from Gaza. Tonight’s ITV news was the worst piece of journalism I have seen for as long as I can remember. Not only was it unpatriotic, scaremongering and wrong, it was also untruthful and deceiving. Now that’s just not right.
BBC – you certainly have the best News service. Keep up the good work!
Note: I have tried to capture the flavour of the various news bulletins through parody and descriptive prose, rater than through quoting anything that was actually said. However, it is clear that the thrust of the ITV story was to cause fear and didn’t worry if such fear might create anti-muslim feeling (isn’t there a law against this?). The thrust of the BBC report was to report the actual events calmly and accurately, with no overlay of “we want to scare you”.