BBC journalists 'lack understanding of basic economics', have put impartiality 'at risk': review panel

Image used for representative purposes. Wikimedia Commons

Journalists at the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) “lack an understanding of basic economics,” said an independent review commissioned by BBC.

The review was based on the corporation’s economic coverage, including taxes, public spending, public debt and loans.

The report’s authors, economics experts Michael Blastland and Sir Andrew Dilnot, said impartiality is “at risk” because some journalists at the media house “make assumptions and have gaps in their knowledge.”

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“In the period of this review, it particularly affected the debt. Some journalists seem to instinctively feel that debt is just bad, full stop, and don’t seem to realize that this can be challenged and arguable,” said Blastland and Dilnot.

“Several general assumptions seem to lurk this way, either unnoticed or uncorrected. Others that outsiders observed in BBC coverage were ‘more government spending is good’ and ‘tax cuts are good,’” they added.

‘Journalists suggesting government’

The report reviewed up to 11,000 pieces of news content from BBC Television and radio services along with social media posts obtained from October 2021 through March 2022. The authors also spoke to more than 100 people outside and inside the corporation.

The authors reviewed one particular on-air statement made by a BBC journalist who said that the Government “will have to…” to carry out a certain thing.

“We appreciate that this was done live and could have been unintentional.”

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“Still, BBC journalists should exercise caution before suggesting that a government ‘will have to…’ raise taxes, lower taxes, lower spending, higher spending, lower debt, higher debt, etc., in any area,” the review noted.

The authors, according to The Telegraph, identified as “tentation to hype”. They said: “An occasional temptation to exaggerate, and we believe that exaggeration is a fairness issue. We also don’t want to get bored, but rather see stories that take our breath away or headlines that seem to chase emotion by skewing data or evidence.”

BBC journalists denounce lack of ‘wise heads’

Some anonymous journalists came forward to discuss the issue in question with the authors.

One reporter said: “We’re kind of a team of arts grads, basically.” While another claimed that the “lack of knowledge” on certain issues was due to the absence of “wise heads” in the newsroom.

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To conclude the report, the BBC The board said: “This has given us a new perspective on how we understand and provide due fairness in this vital area of ​​public policy. The review as a whole provides clear indications of how we can improve editorial standards and, as a result, audience impact.”

BBC claims “no systematic bias”

Meanwhile, a BBC The report on the recent review notes concerns about how the newsroom works, but says this does not suggest “systematic bias.”

According to the report, the review has reason enough to “applaud.”

The authors, according to BBChe said there was a “widespread appreciation” of the corporation’s coverage of the UK economy.

“In our audience research, most did not comment on fairness in tax policy because they did not know what the stories meant,” the authors said.

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