Question and "answer"
A study of the BBC website's coverage of the death penalty in both the US and China shows remarkably skewed coverage. In 2005, the BBC did at least 28 articles focusing exclusively on some aspect of the death penalty in the US: 21 articles about specific individuals who faced execution, and 7 articles more generally about the death penalty (of the 'waning support for death penalty' variety). All this coverage on a nation that executed 60 people in 2005. Contrast this with China, a nation that according to Amnesty International executed 'at least 3,400' people in 2005. From my search of the BBC website, I could uncover only 2 articles focusing exclusively on the death penalty in China: 2 articles of a general nature, and zero articles about any specific individual who faced execution. What explanation does the BBC have for this undeniable imbalance in its coverage?
The BBC's response, received Jan 24:
Thank you for your e-mail with regards to the BBC News output.
I note your objections to the BBC reporting on significantly more to aspects of the death penalty in the US rather than China where more executions take place. In dealing with any controversial matter the BBC is required to give a fair and balanced report. Bias cannot simply be judged principally on the quantity allocated to each separate case, and BBC journalists are expected to put their own political views aside when conducting work for the BBC in order to produce an even handed report which should enable the public to come to their own conclusions. Perfect balance is difficult to achieve on every single occasion but overall it is a more achievable goal.
Nevertheless, please be assured I have registered your comments regarding this issue and have made them available to the BBC News department and the senior BBC management. Feedback of this nature helps us when making decisions about future BBC services and your comment will play a part in this process.
I would however also like to make you aware of a television programme being produced by BBC News that gives viewers the chance to air their concerns directly with those responsible for our news output. You can e-mail 'NewsWatch' at the address below if you would like your views to be considered for this programme:
Thank you again for taking the time to contact the BBC.
Well then, if the BBC "requires" fair and balanced reporting and "expects" its correspondents to put their personal views aside, it couldn't possibly be true that their coverage of the US and Chinese use of the death penalty was skewed. Forget everything I've said.