Do you or don’t you dumb it down?
Writing on the BBC Reporters blog, James Reynolds questions whether his reporting from the Chinese earthquake showed too much/too little or was too intrusive. This is a recurring debate that seems so often to evenly split between those who want to show everything and those who believe the news should be sanitised. James questions whether one image in particular was suitable for early evening broadcast in the UK,
Our cameraman filmed a close-up shot of the hand of a girl who had died. The girl was still holding her pen. We thought this made an important editorial point – she and her classmates were killed in the middle of their class. They simply had no time to react to the earthquake. We decided that this single shot was too graphic to show on the early evening news in the UK when children might be watching – so we left it out. link
The BBC did end up using the image – together with a warning – later in the day. James also notes that,
You may be interested to know that the images we’ve chosen to show from the earthquake have been less graphic than those broadcast by Chinese state TV.
This is an important point. French media, much of the media in the Middle East and, as he says, Chinese have different editorial standards. Is the British media giving us the real picture? Are BBC editorial standards guilty of dumbing the story down too much output?