A post from Jeff Jarvis came to mind when I heard the excellent news that BBC correspondent Alan Johnston had been released in Gaza. In this post Jeff reported on a BBC report on its own impartiality. It emphasised both the legal obligtion for impartiality and the moral imperative. There are 12 principles listed but this one sets the tone:
Impartiality is and should remain the hallmark of the BBC as the leading provider of information and entertainment in the United Kingdom, and as a pre-eminent broadcaster internationally. It is a legal requirement, but it should also be a source of pride.
What doesn’t quite gel, though, is the BBC’s own reporting of the kidnapping. Every morning on the Today Programme there has been a news item about some aspect of Alan Johnston’s plight. It was heart-warming to see the BBC mobilize on behalf of a colleague, but hardly “impartial”. In this morning’s story about the release Today mentioned in passing the five British hostages held in Baghdad since late May. I’m ashamed to say I’d forgotten about them.