In a report aired on January 25th on the BBC News Channel the BBC’s Religion editor Martin Bashir referred to Holocaust Memorial Day as about to be “celebrated” two days later and misquoted Britain’s Chief Rabbi, claiming that he said that “our silence would be to mourn the loss of those six thousand Jewish men, women and children…” [emphasis added]
Mr Stephen Franklin submitted a complaint to the BBC concerning those inaccuracies and received a reply including the following:
“Thank you for contacting us regarding the BBC News Channel’s ‘Afternoon Live’ on 25 January.
We understand you feel our Religion Editor Martin Bashir used insensitive language to describe Holocaust Memorial Day and misquoted the number of Jewish victims.
During this timeframe Martin described events leading up to Holocaust Memorial Day and the people involved in the commemorations.
Please be assured, we strive to present accurate and relevant information throughout our news service. Reporters closely follow these guidelines while providing distinctive descriptions. They often deliver items under pressure and time restrictions, particularly in a live ‘rolling’ news environment.
We regret any editorial oversights but mistakes of this nature can occasionally slip through, despite the best endeavours of our experienced reporters.”
In light of that unsatisfactory response, Mr Franklin submitted a second complaint, to which he received an apposite reply from the Executive Editor of the BBC News Channel.
“I wanted to let you know in person that I think you are quite right to point out the errors in this broadcast.
Regrettably, Martin Bashir misspoke when he said Holocaust Memorial Day was being ‘celebrated’ when he intended to say ‘commemorated.’
I am very sorry for this mistake.
Clearly, too, Martin meant to give the figure of six million victims, not six thousand, and again we are sorry for this mistake.
The correct figure of six million victims was used before the report, and within it by a Holocaust survivor herself, but you are right to say this should not have happened.
While mistakes do occur in live broadcasting, it was very unfortunate that they should have occurred on this subject above all others.
Executive Editor BBC News Channel.”
The fact that a member of the public had to submit two complaints before obvious inaccuracies were appropriately acknowledged once again demonstrates the inefficiency of the BBC’s outsourced audience services.