Tuesday, December 15, 2009

BBC & Bias

by Ashley V. Mitchell

Ashley Mitchell researched the British Media Coverage of the 1990 Release of Nelson Mandela and found a BBC report about South Africa was considered racist by the ANC (African National Congress, South Africa). She explains: Is the BBC biased, racist, anti-Christian and all the other things they have been accused of - my thought is no. The BBC may be state supported but in their "World News" division it functions like any other capitalist corporation. Do their thoughts come from left-wing ideology? Yes. But are they a racist corporation? No. The ANC may want people to believe that the BBC is racist to distract people from the fact that they have an incredibly high crime rate, but the reality is that the BBC is not racist. John Simpson provided raw facts in his report that said South Africa had "50 murders a day," and he had the right to do so, and if he did it before a major event for South Africa (State of the Union address by President Mbeki), then the only thing he is guilty of is trying to get more people to read his article.

However, I do believe that the BBC at times can be a little more left wing than a government-run corporation should be. The BBC can defend a biased opinion by a journalist all they want, but at the end of the day the people will know these points are not supported by the government whose opinions they will most likely trust more than that of a media machine. If the BBC’s main goal is to educate then they need to be more careful of whom they hire, and what those people are saying, whether it is through radio shows, newspaper articles or Twitter. The BBC is just a typical news source that at times does something controversial which ends up boosting ratings.

Nelson Mandela release, 1990, watch the BBC coverage

When the BBC reported about Nelson Mandela’s release in 1990, they chose the scenes they did, not because they were being racist, but because it created a visually stimulating and emotional broadcast. From going between overly joyful crowds to people being taken away on gurneys, all the while showing Nelson Mandela’s inspirational speech, it puts forth a certain image of South Africa. The BBC did show South Africa as a disorderly nation, but because it is somewhat true. The scene around Nelson Mandela’s release was pandemonium and the crime rates in South Africa are something that the country needs to worry about, more than what media source they find is racist.

South Africans respond to the crime factor
Left: Diketso Lekhelebane, 34
“Thugs attack you because they believe you have something they want. There is still the perception that white people have money all the time maybe that’s why he was targeted. But to create the impression that black people are persecuting whites at every turn is not just wrong, it’s not true.”

Right: Meagan Farquharson, 23
“I think if a person wants to leave the country they should. I’ve been mugged a few times and my house was broken into but it was nothing serious. That happens to everyone. I wouldn’t leave, I love my country. If I ever did, it wouldn’t be because of crime, there is crime everywhere.”

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