Sound news judgment?

Written By: - Date published: 8:37 am, May 15th, 2018 - 48 comments
Categories: Jeremy Corbyn, Media, Russia, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, uk politics, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags: ,

There have been ongoing complaints from the left about BBC’s editorial independence.  You would think that the doyen of world journalism would do its best to make sure that it treated UK politics in a fair and balanced way.

But there have been grumblings for a while.  They reached a crescendo when Newsnight used the above graphic during a recent show.  The picture of Corbyn appeared to have a digitally altered hat.  The original picture showed him wearing a non descript hat but with what appeared to be a few Photoshop tweaks it was made to resemble a Russian hat.

RT collated the arguments against what happened in this video.

A number of people complained.   The BBC has responded by claiming that the backdrop was an editorial decision based on “sound news judgment”.

From the Guardian:

The BBC has formally rejected complaints that its Newsnight programme Photoshopped an image of Jeremy Corbyn to make him look “more Russian”, insisting that the programme’s use of the picture was “impartial and fair”.

The corporation’s complaints unit said the decision to show a photo of the Labour leader wearing a “Lenin-style cap” in front of the Moscow skyline was not designed to convey an impression of pro-Russian sympathy on Corbyn’s part but was in keeping with an editorial decision made on the basis of “sound news judgment”.

Video of the alleged Photoshopping incident attracted millions of views following the Newsnight episode broadcast on 15 March, in which the programme discussed Corbyn’s reaction to the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury and alleged involvement of the Russian state.

Viral footage of the graphic prompted 48 people to formally complain to the BBC that the decision to use the image of Corbyn wearing a cap represented anti-Labour bias on behalf of Newsnight, that the image had been manipulated to emphasise the Russian elements of this hat, and that this bias had been compounded by the decision to include a stylised Russian backdrop.

The BBC’s complaints unit rejected this and ruled the main reason Corbyn’s cap looked more like a Soviet-style fur hat was that the image had been projected on to a large curved screen in the TV studio.

The ruling admitted that some members of the public illustrated their complaints with copies of the original photograph next to a screengrab of the equivalent image in the programme, in which the hat did appear to be slightly taller.

“This, however, was not the result of Photoshopping or otherwise manipulating the image. It resulted from the fact that the screen on to which the image was projected is curved, meaning that the image as a whole appeared higher in relation to its width than it would on a flat surface.”

The BBC may be correct.  Petapixel has concluded that the change in the shape of the hat was caused actually by the curved screen rather than photoshop.

But the overall impression created by the image, that Corbyn is a Russian stooge, is unmistakable.  And especially frustrating given the Conservative Party’s strong links to Russian funders.

And if the above graphic is actually sound news judgment I will eat my hat.

48 comments on “Sound news judgment?”

  1. Gosman 1

    The trouble here is the BBC is THE model promoted by many here for greater State involvement in the media landscape. Yet even with an organisation supposedly set up to provide professional and independent reporting of the issues of the day free from the ‘evil’ influence of money it is accused of being biased. I fail to see what supposed benefits the BBC model brings in such a situation.

    • Barfly 1.1

      Even if the model is great – this just shows it’s not incorruptible .

      • Gosman 1.1.1

        Except you haven’t explained how it is corrupted beyond an opinion that it is biased against Corbyn. There is a large number of checks put on the BBC to supposedly ensure editorial independence and reduce bias yet you think these have all be circumvented somehow.

        • Barfly 1.1.1.1

          “you haven’t explained how it is corrupted beyond an opinion that it is biased against Corbyn”

          Gosman recently you seem to be obsessed in hair splitting, fermenting arguments and trying to provoke acrimony. While I believe you to have always had a trollesque approach you really seem to have gone off the deep end.

          I’m not going to bother to do your work for you – if you want to claim the BBC isn’t biased against Corbyn I suggest that you have your monocle’s lens prescription checked

          • Gosman 1.1.1.1.1

            If you can’t explain how it can be biased despite the supposed processes in place to stop this then just state it.

        • Stuart Munro 1.1.1.2

          It comes down to the people – maintaining balance in a subjective environment requires restraint – putting the Kremlin in Corbyn’s background violates that principle. May’s government, like Key’s, is a steaming pile of shit and depends on vilifying the opposition rather than outperforming it. Their BBC appointees are in this instance following their government’s preferences.

          • Gosman 1.1.1.2.1

            What you are therefore stating is the process of appointing people to the oversight of the BBC is open to political abuse. This would tend to suggest having it is quite dangerous.

            • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1.1.2.1.1

              A public broadcaster, subject to public expectations and scrutiny, however flawed, is still a better model than anything the “free” “market” has ever come up with.

            • McFlock 1.1.1.2.1.2

              Except that the people who do the appointments are elected in some shitty way, rather than just being rich enough to buy Fox News.

              By your logic, having any media is quite dangerous.

              • Gosman

                The argument here is that the political appointments are causing bias in a State run broadcaster. If we take that as a fact then it suggests State run broadcasters themselves are inherently dangerous as they are open to this sort of political interference.

                • McFlock

                  State broadcasters are less open to interference by their paymasters than private broadcasters are, bacause private broadcasters have essentially zero public oversight on their hiring practises. Would you ban all broadcasting?

            • Stuart Munro 1.1.1.2.1.3

              Quite – almost as dangerous as the commercial abuse that has seen the likes of Fairfax and Murdoch wreck our own media.

              May should be punished relentlessly for this abuse, and the BBC pressed to return to professional standards – not sell out to wretched privateers who could never build a comparable institution.

    • AB 1.2

      So because ‘better’ is not perfect we should just stick with ‘worse’?

    • Macro 1.3

      Compare and contrast..
      BBC posts picture of JC in “digitally” altered hat and is roundly criticised for bias.
      Fox News host Sean Hannity has open line to DT

      On some days, they speak multiple times, with one calling the other to inform him of the latest developments. White House staff are aware that the calls happen, thanks to the president entering a room and announcing, “I just hung up with Hannity,” or referring to what Hannity said during their conversations, or even ringing Hannity up from his desk in their presence.

      This of course is not bias – just plain propaganda. Everything else is Fake News!
      I would say that under a state funded media the public have far more control on bringing the 4th Estate into line, than what is blatant propaganda foisted upon an unsuspecting public by a compliant and deceitful “independent” private news channel.

      • Gosman 1.3.1

        Your point being what? I don’t think anyone seriously disputes Fox news is biased.

        • dukeofurl 1.3.1.1

          hahaha. Fox news would disagree with you – they say they are ‘fair and balanced’- did say ( but its still used by their commentators!

          After Ailes was ditched by #metoo, it doesnt feature as much

          Now its ” “Most Watched, Most Trusted.” and occasionally ““We Report, You Decide”

          You must keep up Gosman, your facade is slipping like Fox’s

          • Gosman 1.3.1.1.1

            Yeah lots of News organisations think they are one thing when they are another.

        • Macro 1.3.1.2

          Ok I shall repeat it for you S l o w l y.. as you seem to be unable to assimilate more than one concept at a time.
          I would say that under a state funded media the public have far more control on bringing the 4th Estate into line, than what is blatant propaganda foisted upon an unsuspecting public by a compliant and deceitful “independent” private news channel.

    • adam 1.4

      and the Gosman model of free market – ie: Fox news, is a bastion of freedom, yeah right….

      • Gosman 1.4.1

        Fox News is not funded by Taxpayers money and is also not the only source of information available to people. If you don’t like Fox News don’t watch it.

        • Draco T Bastard 1.4.1.1

          The problem with that assertion is that all the other media are private as well and follow the same line if not quite as radical.

          • Gosman 1.4.1.1.1

            There are lots of media options Draco. Even some that might satisfy your particularly unique take on the World. 🙂

            • adam 1.4.1.1.1.1

              Gosman, your spin once again produces confusion, seriously I said ‘your model’ quite clearly in my statement – so saying it’s state funded means you are deliberately trying to misrepresent what I said. My point was simple, the model you purpose produces a piles of dog shit like Fox news, infowars and britgosman. Let alone bad jokes like TV3, CNN and MSNBC all of which are just bloody awful.

              I like how your answer is, just don’t consume news. I’d say like to somthing witty, instead, I’m left with that sick feeling your just a wrecker who wants the world to burn.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.5

      The trouble here is the BBC is THE model promoted by many here for greater State involvement in the media landscape.

      [citations needed]

      I certainly don’t support the capitalist structure of the BBC.

  2. Chris T 2

    TBF

    As the Labour Govenment’s Associate minister for Transport would say, Corbyn is just an old, white, male who should retire.

  3. dukeofurl 3

    Isnt saying ‘wasnt photoshopped’ just sematics?

    With those sort of 3D background images ( in this case largely curvature) they have to be digitally changed to to have the right effect on the 2D home TV screen.

    Another example is the advertising images sprayed on the ground during sports matches. It appears normal proportions when screened on your TV but is sort of elongated when you are on the grass- they use a digital technique to create the actual ground image.

  4. jcuknz 4

    I do not have TV so am spared the exposure to such things 🙂
    Plus I object to Photoshop being given the credit as I am a Paint Shop Pro user 🙂

  5. greywarshark 5

    Shows how important it is not to have ‘little bird’ syndrome. That’s where you just open up and swallow everything that you get fed by any of your connections. That leads to a sort of nanny, mummy and daddy state that doesn’t have kind intentions towards you or anybody.

  6. Ad 6

    I think we are turning into po-faced little axolotyls and should grow a bit of skin.

    Does anyone remember the Green MP who sought to enable more satire of politicians?

    https://www.greens.org.nz/news/speeches/gareth-hughes-debates-parliaments-anti-satire-rule

    Yes, it was the Greens.

    At least in New Zealand, as distinct from the UK, Labour is in power.
    This government should expect far more serious critique and parody than it already gets.

    Labour is just damn lucky that they have a female Prime Minister who is pregnant, to ensure that everyone (including the Police) leap to her defence whenever they get undermined.

    We should be encouraging satire, not bewailing it when it happens to our team. Plenty agree:

    https://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/mediawatch/audio/2018643706/you-can-t-be-serious-satire-parody-and-copyright

    In fact there’s a new bill coming through Parliament to promote even more criticism, using bigger extractions other other peoples’ work to do so. And wait, it’s from the government side of the House again. Here’s the relevant clause:

    “Section 42 amended (Criticism, review, and news reporting) Replace section 42(1) with: (1) Fair dealing with a work for the purposes of criticism or review, of that or another work or a performance of a work, does not infringe copyright in the work if such fair dealing is accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgement, or if the purpose is for parody or satire.”

    Hell, only in the last month we had that moron of a Minister Claire Curran try to the heavy the Chair of RNZ, and manipulate to get their most senior news manager fired rather than take any of the criticism herself. Utter cowardice, brought on by her lies.

    The left should take parodic attacks as a badge of honour, and if their supporters fail to deliver back as good as they receive, that is the fault of their own imagination not anyone else.

    • Draco T Bastard 6.1

      I’m with you about the satire but the above image doesn’t appear to be satire.

      • Ad 6.1.1

        The you would have to define the difference between parody and satire and framing such that is was actionable in legislation. In a contestable democracy with a free media, trying to action that in a court is positively Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others.

  7. Philg 7

    The BBC is losing credibility

  8. Bill 8

    I’ve always been somewhat bemused by the idea that the BBC represent some kind of higher order of broadcasting.

    They have never done anything in terms of news programmes bar promote and protect the most conservative narrative within British politics.

    • Gosman 8.1

      In which case it should be broken up. Left wing people can get together and buy up elements of it and broadcast the ‘truth’ as they see it.

      • Ad 8.1.1

        🙂

        • greywarshark 8.1.1.1

          WW2 – BBC good, news generally reliable, not just propaganda.
          The halo still shimmers. I don’t think it should be broken up.
          😛

      • Bill 8.1.2

        I think you’re misunderstanding the meaning of “conservative” there Gosman.

        • adam 8.1.2.1

          No just the libertarian lie repeated again and again, funny you’d think we ain’t heard it for the last 40 years…

  9. Adrian Thornton 9

    It is quite ironic that this piece has The Guardian of all news sources commenting on the Corbyn Bias..

    Remember this…..

    Our report found that 75% of press coverage misrepresents Jeremy Corbyn – we can’t ignore media bias anymore
    https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/jeremy-corbyn-media-bias-labour-mainstream-press-lse-study-misrepresentation-we-cant-ignore-bias-a7144381.html

    The Guardians response…
    ‘Yes, Jeremy Corbyn has suffered a bad press, but where’s the harm?’
    https://www.theguardian.com/media/greenslade/2016/jul/19/yes-jeremy-corbyn-has-suffered-a-bad-press-but-wheres-the-harm

    Fuck The guardian…..guardians of the neoliberal status quo, who will, and have unrelentingly attacked any threat to it.

    • greywarshark 9.1

      Hey give the guardian a bit of slack. Perhaps they are trying to make up for their previous ‘bad press’ . Anyway it gives him a chance for some public announcement, further exposure, keeps him floating on the sea of controversy.

      • Adrian Thornton 9.1.1

        The Guardian is probably the biggest obstacle (media wise) in the path of a real progressive project taking power in the UK..the editors of that rag would rather eat their own babies than allow Corbyn to bring in a Socialist Labour into power in the UK, that much is plainly obvious.

        Everybody knows The Mail etc are right wing and anti Corbyn, but don’t understand that The Guardian is just as anti Corbyn as well, and I know plenty of progressives that swallow most of the bull shit that the Guardian spews out because they trust it.
        Dividing the Left is all that the Guardian is good for…well they seem to be doing an excellent job of doing just that….that’s for sure.

  10. mpledger 10

    I “photoshopped” it and the hats are the same size in the two comparison photos.

    What’s happened is that the contrast in the hat has been totally lost (but not the rest of his face!) so the hat in the BBC picture has lost all it definition which makes it look more like a cossack hat – https://www.furhatworld.com/russian-hats-c-42_45.html. And by adding the red cast, the hat appears black when in fact it’s blue/dark grey.

    I don’t know how they can possibly say they didn’t alter it. The loss of contrast might just be poor editing but the red cast is purposeful.

  11. Grey Area 11

    Barfly got it right at 1.1.1.1 but people continue to feed the troll. Gosman’s game is clear but responders play along.

    The win for him is he wrecks threads and I suspect he’s sitting there clapping his hands with glee.

    I just give up any thread he is involved with. I haven’t got the spare time to waste.

    • tc 11.1

      +100 yes he’s very good at it so DNFTT.

      Malcom’s trying similar editorial re-engineering at the ABC on behalf of Murdoch as one of the rats they swallowed.

  12. Quasimodo 12

    I believe the BBC is part of the UK Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet so claims of political impartiality should be critically assessed.

    The BBC has long shown stock images of Corbyn in black fur hat contrasting with white short cropped beard and hair. It might be bit of a tease, but Lenin is often portrayed in a proletarian baseball-type cap.

    Corbyn looks like Marcus Aurelius watching the end of the Imperium.

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