@Ergasiophobe tweeted BBC Radio Scotland’s Sunday morning Headlines programme last week (see below). The show’s presenter, Ken McDonald, chose to mention the tweet on air to deliver a gentle rebuke. He also used it to further deliver a lesson on BBC news ‘values’ to the tweeter and internet commenters in general. AhDinnaeKen figured that this alleged Macdonald “smackdown” entitled us* to this reply:
Dear Ken, Headlines, BBC Radio Scotland.
Last Sunday I tweeted the above message with the hashtag #rsheadlines.
I chose my words – and punctuation – carefully.
On air, you chose to mock the message and deliver a mild put down.
Here’s what you said:
“A tweet just came in from somebody saying ‘The BBC has promoted a Nationalist Front website yet again referring to the “Reverend Stuart Campbell”.
“At least I know the Reverend Stuart Campbell’s name, whereas, I don’t know the name of the Tweeter because they’re hiding behind a pseudonym – Braveheart, eh?”
Which would be fair comment if your statement about ‘Reverend Stuart Campbell’ was acccurate.
You see, Ken, no one appears to know if he is a ‘Reverend’. Therefore, your claim of ‘knowing’ his name is incorrect – inaccurate, even. It could be legitimately counter-claimed that you’ve misled your listeners by making such a statement.
Perish the thought, eh?
Unless, of course, you managed to do what several print journalists failed to do earlier this year and verifiy that the “Reverend Stuart Campbell” is indeed a reverend.
I suspect you haven’t. Here’s why.
Consider the following tweeted questions to the “Reverend” from a variety of (non-reverend) print based newspaper journalists:
Not one managed to get a cogent, verifiable, reply to “Reverend Stuart Campbell’s” claim that he is a reverend – though he continued and continues to state that he is so.
My legitimate question to you Ken is this: Did you verify the reverend status?
If you didn’t, are you going to apologise on air for misleading your listeners?
A fair and relevant question, I’m sure you’ll agree.
ANOTHER TEDIOUS POINT OF PEDANTRY
After delivering your “smackdown” of @Ergasiophobe – which made me smile, bordering on, laugh – you then raised this wider point on the subject of internet commenters:
“People complain, not so much about how you handle the news – how you interpret the news – but about, simply, opinions that they don’t agree with being given some air.”
A fair enough comment, if it actually addressed the point of my original tweet. Which it didn’t.
My tweet raised the issue that you, Ken Macdonald, presenter of BBC Radio Scotland’s Headlines programmes, referred to “Reverend Stuart Campbell” of Wings Over Scotland.
I’d wager you haven’t corroborated that name from a secondary, verifiable, source. The circumstantial evidence is against you having done so.
On your other point of ‘interpretation’ and ‘handling’ of the news, by inference, you are effectively saying that Wings Over Scotland’s opinions are newsworthy.
Based on that notion, consider the following question put to a variety of prominent Indy tweeters:
The replies, in no particular order were:
Hardly scientific or conclusive, I know – and a few people declined to reply – but it is a straw poll based on identifiable, credible, individuals from both sides, and none, of the indy debate.
Optimistically, it’s inconclusive that Wings can be considered a source of news or a credible source of content to be considered newsworthy. But it does cast a shadow of doubt on your assertion regarding your “handling” and “interpretation” of the news.
Your programme, ‘Headlines’, by citing Wings Over Scotland as a news source grants the site a BBC legitimised credibility it doesn’t deserve.
As originally tweeted last week Ken, I find that “disgraceful“, bordering on offensive, given that much of the ‘polemic’ or ‘commentary’ or ‘analysis’ found within Wings Over Scotland is based on extreme, intolerant, divisive, bigotry – matched by a stream of hysterical diatribe and invective.
Within the pages of Wings Over Scotland, “Reverend Stuart Campbell” – or whatever his name is – has made the following statements: “I despise Unionists“, “the Scottish are cringing pitiful scum“, opponents of independence should be treated with “merciless contempt“, and stated that it’s “cowardly, craven and pathetic” to vote no.
So there you have it Ken. I’m calling you out on your editorial accuracy and your handling and interpretation of the news.
At best you’ve made an honest mistake re: the inaccuracy regarding Reverend Stuart Campbell’s name.
At worst, you’ve actively misled your listeners while promoting an extremist website.
Which is it?
If you ever want to verify my identity, send me a Direct Message. I’d be more than happy to provide you with some worthwhile details.
Until then, you, your research team and your producer may like to reconsider citing Wings as a credible news source.
You undermine your own credibility by doing so.
Pseudonymous “Braveheart” – @Ergasiophobe