|Middle East editor Bowen, at present on "book-writing leave"|
But following a complaint by Conservative MP Louise Mensch, outgoing Director-General Mark Thompson has admitted that the Corporation erred in its lack of coverage of the Itamar massacre, blaming the concurrent big stories (the strife in Libya and the Japanese tsunami) for the deficiency:
"News editors were under a lot of pressure. Having said that, it was certainly an atrocity which should have been covered across our news bulletins that day."Meanwhile, a former BBC television news editor, Aziz Rashid, head of the BBC's Regional and Local Programmes in England's north-west, who axed Radio Manchester's Jewish show without bothering to consult Jewish communal leaders, has apologised to a delegation of the latter for the curt way in which he dealt with complaints from Jewish listeners, aghast at the disappearance of the radio slot.
But this is Al Beeb we're talking about. And so, despite the sorries, the tsorres remains.
Now, the BBC Trust has made public the findings of a generally favourable, indeed in some respects adulatory, report of the Corporation's coverage of the so-called Arab Spring, and the Al Beeb website is not slow to pass the news on.
(Funny that Al Beeb trumpets the findings of this, the Mortimer Report – Edward Mortimer is described as "Middle East expert and former UN Director of Communications" – yet is so cagey about the contents of the Balen Report, huh? Gee, that Balen Report must have harsh things to say about Al Beeb's attitude to Israel.)
Regarding the BBC's Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen (who, incidentally, tweeted last week that he's on "book-writing leave") the Mortimer Report makes recommendations that should concern all who have impartial reporting and the interests of Israel at heart.
To quote Ben Dowell in The Guardian:
'The BBC has promised to review the workload of its Middle East editor, Jeremy Bowen, following a BBC Trust report urging that he be encouraged to "travel a little less".
Bowen, who has been in the post for seven years, is taking too many foreign trips and needs to be centrally located where he can lend his expertise to the BBC's strategic thinking about its coverage of the region, a report by former UN director of communications Edward Mortimer concluded.
Mortimer's report into the accuracy and impartiality of the BBC's coverage of the Arab spring, published on Monday, urged executives to limit Bowen's travel "so that he would have more time to share his insight and provide them with overall strategic guidance"....
The report concluded: "There is clearly a tension here, or a gap not easily bridged between the role of an inspired leader on the ground who has a huge patch to cover and does it superlatively well, and the role of people running the news machine back at base who continually have to make choices in terms of people, resources and audience engagement, and who perhaps cannot always get the advice they need, at the moment when they need it, from an expert who is out in the field."....
In its written response BBC management said it will "review the balance " of Bowen's work and the "emphasis we place on his strategic guidance" and hinted that it may limit his work on documentary features.
"We also conclude that there are dangers in releasing key broadcasters, such as the Middle East editor, to work on current affairs documentaries in the middle of a major story," the BBC added.
"While this undoubtedly enriched the BBC's output of the Arab spring as a whole, it mean that for a period daily news editors had less contact with his expertise and guidance of the coverage than they would otherwise have had."....'Read the rest by Dowell here
The Mortimer Report is available here