During 23 years with the BBC, and 40 years in journalism (when he was trained to use simple language, avoiding jargon), it has always been important for our Editor, Welshman Phil Parry to report the WHOLE of a controversial figure’s background, but now comes more evidence that it is not being done.
Previously he has described how he was helped to break into the South Wales Echo office car when he was a cub reporter, recalled his early career as a journalist, the importance of experience in the job, and made clear that the ‘calls’ to emergency services as well as court cases are central to any media operation.
He has also explored how poorly paid most journalism is when trainee reporters had to live in squalid flats, the vital role of expenses, and about one of his most important stories on the now-scrapped 53 year-old BBC Cymru Wales (BBC CW) TV Current Affairs series, Week In Week Out (WIWO), which won an award even after it was axed, long after his career really took off.
Phil has explained too how crucial it is actually to speak to people, the virtue of speed as well as accuracy, why knowledge of ‘history’ is vital, how certain material was removed from TV Current Affairs programmes when secret cameras had to be used, and some of those he has interviewed.
“The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”, is the mantra for witnesses giving evidence in court.
It seems a shame that reporters in the media don’t have this message drilled into them.
A case in point was shown just three days ago when the BBC ‘reported’ how an academic had questioned political changes for elections to the Welsh Parliament/Senedd Cymru (WP/SC).
The academic in question was Laura McAllister, who it seems is the ‘go-to’ person to comment on any moves in the worlds of Welsh politics or football.
The BBC item began: ‘A new way of electing members to an expanded Senedd could erode trust in politicians, an academic has warned.
‘Prof Laura McAllister said the “closed lists” system would put too much power in the hands of parties, with voters choosing between them instead of candidates’.
Professor McAllister told the BBC programme Politics Wales that she feared the system had “major weaknesses” because it “removes the choice from electors to choose individual candidates“.
“It seems odd to me that at a time when there’s such a disconnect between the politicians and the public, we’re disconnecting it further”, she declared.
However Professor McAllister (who is also a former Welsh international footballer), is a highly contentious figure, yet NOWHERE in the piece was this mentioned.
She is open about her Welsh nationalism, so critics say that Professor McAllister can hardly be considered a neutral academic commentator.
Professor McAllister has, herself, appeared on television, but in a problematic encounter.
She interviewed disgraced ex-lobbyist Daran Hill about electoral reform on Senedd tv, but he has now been jailed, after admitting two counts of distributing indecent images of children and three counts of making them.
Apart from appearing on television with Mr Hill five years ago, Professor McAllister also went to Qatar last year to cheer on the Welsh football team at the World Cup (WC) there but fell foul of the authorities for wearing the wrong kind of hat.
To observers, publicly announcing her attendance at the WC seemed strange, as her sexuality (she is gay) would be treated as a crime in the country.
One outraged reader of a piece about her on the nationalist website which is supported by the taxpayer, Nation.Cymru (NC), wrote underneath it: “It seems to me practically every TV programme produced by BBC Wales that requires an opinion on Wales (Welsh elections, Welsh Government policy, Welsh football) Laura McAllister is there. And now she’s off to Qatar to represent us. is there anything she can’t do?”.
Professor McAllister has publicised the fact that she is a “Welsh woman” and that the BBC Proms made her feel like a “foreign tourist”.
Several years ago, Professor McAllister had written in her regular Welsh newspaper column: “I do realise that my national identity has been shaped and expressed largely through sport, but the Proms’ Union Jack waving (albeit with a smattering of European, Welsh and Scottish flags mixed in) and Rule Britannia make me feel like a foreign tourist”.
I too feel like a ‘foreign tourist’ – in a strange land where we AREN’T told ‘the WHOLE truth’ about people who are presented to us as neutral ‘experts’…
The memories of Phil’s decades long award-winning career in journalism (when the WHOLE truth about individuals was always given) as he was gripped by the rare and incurable neurological disease Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order it now.
Publication of another book, however, was refused, because it was to have included names.
Tomorrow – Professor McAllister could be busy talking about political events because the General Election (GE) is approaching, and as it nears it becomes increasingly obvious that private schooling will become a key battle ground. Labour is pledging to remove some tax reliefs, so Phil (who attended an independent school in Wales), will look at the issues involved.