BBC News Defends Editorial Position
The head of BBC News, Deborah Turness, has communicated to the broadcaster’s staff that the BBC will engage with those who seek clarification on editorial guidelines.
This statement comes in response to the ongoing debate surrounding the BBC’s choice not to describe Hamas militants as “terrorists.”
BBC’s Long-Standing Editorial Position
The BBC’s long-standing editorial stance on the use of the word “terrorist” has drawn criticism, particularly in its coverage of the conflict in Gaza and Israel.
The BBC’s approach is to employ the term “terrorist” cautiously and to report on others’ designations rather than make such declarations themselves.
Chief Executive’s Defense of Editorial Position
In an email to staff, Deborah Turness defended the BBC’s position, emphasizing that it is not within their purview to label any group as “terrorists.”
She highlighted the importance of objectivity and trust in BBC News and stressed the significance of the language used.
Openness to Addressing Concerns
Turness stated that the BBC recognizes the importance of listening to concerns and is open to engaging with those who question their editorial guidelines.
She expressed a commitment to explaining the fundamental principles behind these guidelines.
Political Criticism and Reactions
The BBC’s editorial stance has faced criticism from various political figures, with Defense Secretary Grant Shapps terming it “verging on disgraceful.”
Other senior ministers, including Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer, have also expressed concerns.
Acknowledging the Emotional Toll on Staff
In her email, Deborah Turness acknowledged the emotional toll that covering distressing events can take on BBC staff.
She expressed sympathy for those affected by the conflict and emphasized the importance of telling the stories of those impacted.
Supporting Mental Health
Recognizing the challenges faced by journalists and news staff, Turness encouraged them to seek mental health support when needed.
Proud of BBC’s Reporting
Turness expressed pride in the BBC’s coverage, particularly the courage and dedication of staff on the ground.
She noted the importance of trust earned through their work.
Message from the BBC Director-General
Following Turness’s email, Tim Davie, the director-general of the BBC, conveyed his sympathy for the victims of the conflict and praised the dedicated teams working on the story.
He emphasized the importance of support for staff and encouraged them to speak up when necessary.