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Iran, the Navy, and BBC News 24

BBC News 24 coverageIt strikes me as interesting today that BBC News 24 is referring to Iran’s detention of 15 Royal Navy personnel as a “kidnapping”, which seems to me to be extremely loaded language.

Iran contests that the boats involved in the incident were in Iranian waters, while the UK and US state that they were within Iraqi territory, so it appears one word against another. If the Iranians are right (and it is very hard to tell in such disputed territory with complex divisions), then they are well within their legal rights to detain the Royal Navy personnel, so to describe them as “kidnapped” in this rather less-than-clear situation seems unfortunate at best.

Most other news organisations – including their own website – are using diplomatic terms like “seized” or “detained” which, in themselves, do not imply that either side is right. So why is BBC News 24 deliberately choosing to do differently? I hope, not least for the renowned journalistic standards of the Beeb, that this wasn’t a decision taken because “kidnapped” fits better on a headline graphic.

Some of their presentation decisions are already irritating and somewhat questionable, but if presentation is the reason for this decision, then standards really have reached a new – very depressing – low.

Image courtesy of dragonhhjh at TV Forum

This post was filed under: Media, News and Comment, Politics.

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Comments and responses

Comment from Ken from Glos

    20.37, 25/03/2007

Dont be so diplomatic.The rules of engagement put our troops in harms way and that is down to this dreadful government.Dont forget this is the second time this has happened and according to Hoon it would never happen again.

Comment from Mort Karman

    00.49, 26/03/2007

With the modern GPS tracking systems the U.K, U.S. and even the Iranian navy have it should not be difficult to determine exactly who was where. So far, no one has been hurt and I hope it stays that way. Once the logistics are determined which ever side was wrong can say “sorry”. The British sailors can go back to their ship and if it is done correctly it might even bring the tensions between Iran and the U.K-U.S. down a notch.
As far as the BBC reporting goes, they have been accused of pro Arab bias by some pro Israel groups and pro Israel bias by pro Arab groups, so I guess they are trying todo it right. The BBC is far from perfect, and they are not as good as they were years ago, but they are still the very best news operation in the entire world, bar none.
I can say this with some expertise as a winner of several major journalism prizes in over 40 years of print, radio and television journalism. As part of the KIMN Radio, Denver, Colorado news team, I shared in two Edward R, Morrow broadcast journalism awards. I have a first place news photography award from the Oklahoma Press Association and a host of other good stuff. I was not always a grump old man. (my wife says I was once a grumpy young man)
I think the Zenith of the BBC war coverage was during the Falkland war, but that is strictly my own opinion.
BBC correspondents go into harms way every day in some of the most dangerous places in the world to bring accurate news reports to the public. A BBC reporter is currently missing and presumed kidnapped in Gaza as I write this.
The best we can hope for in this Iran-vs. Royal navy situation is that cool heads prevail on both sides, though I realize it may be too much to hope for.

Comment from Margaret

    11.00, 30/03/2007

The Government needs to use every diplomatic means at their disposal to free the 15 Navy Crews captured by the Iranians.. They need to open their eyes in my opinion,to the fact that Iran might want to war with them over the Iraqi and nuclear weapons issues and will try every trick possible to trigger a war. For peace sake do not fall into the trap.

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