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BBC Admits Overhyping Arab Spring

Our regular readers are well aware that the Arab Spring has been far messier and more problematic than breathless media reports would have had one believe. Now, months later, the BBC has issued a mea culpa on its own coverage. Reports the Daily Mail:

The BBC’s coverage of the Arab Spring has been heavily criticised—by the corporation’s bosses.

Head of news Helen Boaden admitted that her journalists got carried away with events and produced ‘over-excited’ reports.

She told a BBC Trust report that in Libya, where reporters were ‘embedded’ with rebels, they may have failed to explore both sides of the story properly.

Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen was among those criticised in the study into coverage of the uprisings, which found that ‘excitement’ did sometimes ‘infect’ the reporting, which some viewers described as ‘too emotive’ and ‘veering into opinion’.

It is very tempting for any journalist to report the world as they wish it to be, rather than as it actually is. One of the goals of our work here at Via Meadia is to resist this tendency, and we are glad that the BBC is belatedly acknowledging their own failings in this regard. Only with a clear-eyed look at hard realities can we begin to properly address them.

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  • Corlyss

    Mea culpas are nice. But they never learn. They keep repeating the same jejune elitist mistakes in their tireless effort to appear endowed with superior sophisticated insight.

  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    “Cultures evolve at glacial speeds” Jacksonian Libertarian

    I have been saying all along that expecting the backward Islamic Cultures to become like advanced western cultures with their Free Enterprise, Democracy, and the Rule of Law, without taking all the steps in between, is unreasonable.

  • thibaud

    “It is very tempting for any journalist to report the world as they wish it to be, rather than as it actually is. One of the goals of our work here at Via Meadia is to resist this tendency”

    Translation: “Lord, make me chaste, but not yet.”

    The man who proudly said that his blog “roots for the home team” might want to resist this tendency with a little more vigor.

    Via Meadia’s list of headlines is almost comical in its relentless, Drudge-like hash of Bad News for America’s Rivals, Democrats, and Other Enemies of Freedom and Christianity.

    Mr Mead might also want to resist that itch to bash the “legacy media,” especially given that so much VM research and so much VM content is poached from original research and reporting by the NYT, the FT, WSJ, the Economist, and other despicable legacy journals.

    Perhaps Mead could also try to add a touch of reality to some of the more surreal products of the dream palace of the Jacksonians.

    Like the VM claim that our (in reality, extremely decentralized) US school system suffers from too much centralization.

    Or the Via Meadia claim that Americans “absolutely hate” the ACA because it’s sOCiALi$t!! – when in reality, 20-25% of those who oppose the ACA do so _because it doesn’t go far enough_.

    That is, perhaps VM could dig a bit deeper into the data before shooting from the lip, and recognize the reality that a solid majority of Americans sees the ACA as a weak compromise that fails to offer a universal public option, unfairly rewards the health insurance companies, and exempts them until 2014 from the ban on DOB for “preexisting conditions.”

  • Fred

    In a way, it’s hard to fault them too much. Human beings always have a strong tendency to see what we want to see. Add to that postcolonial guilt and years of being steeped in multiculti [profanity removed] and it’s hardly surprising that they looked at what always goes on in the Middle East, different sets of vicious thugs fighting over power, and thought they saw a democratic revolution.

  • Kris

    thibaud@3: “The man who proudly said that his blog ‘roots for the home team’ might want to resist this tendency with a little more vigor. ”


    When it comes to American foreign policy, Via Meadia roots for the home team. We want things to go well for the United States of America, and that means we wish the incumbent and his foreign policy team every success. We don’t hesitate to celebrate the Obama Administration’s foreign policy successes when they get something right, and we also don’t believe in taking nasty potshots every time something goes wrong.

    Repent, Mead!

  • Jim.

    @5 Kris –

    It’s remarkably selfless of thibaud to wish his rhetorical opponents more prosperity in their research efforts, while he himself remains impoverished in that regard.

    That said, I think that thibaud is misreading Mead entirely. Mead has said that he’s a “Democrat, but not a particularly partisan one”. His website presents itself as above all Centrist.

    But Mead steadfastly refuses to endorse the Centrist candidate in the presidential race… simply because he is a Republican, as far as I can tell. What do we make of that?

    The way I read it, Mead is trying desperately to get across to his fellow Democrats one simple message: The old ways of massive spending and heavy government involvement are not sustainable. To survive, the Blue Model must evolve.

    In fact, he’s said this more or less explicitly in at least one of his essay-length posts. Was thibaud around for those? It might explain a lot about his bellyaching if he didn’t realize that Mead was an iconoclast-reformer, rather than a simple partisan opponent. Or perhaps thibaud knows all this, and is giving Mead the “apostate treatment”.

    I wonder, can thibaud look up from his talking points long enough to see the big picture here?

  • Kris

    Jim@6: If we are to take thibaud at face value, he is a Rockefeller Republican (roughly speaking), whose prime focus lies in chastising the Right out of concern for the direction it’s heading. Given this and given our host’s position as you present it, thibaud’s attacks on Mead are ironic.

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