Dumb BBC:

Biased BBC reader John Gentle comments:

Thursday’s BBC Newsnight has just informed its viewers that the FTSE was up 80 odd points, but the Dow was down 210 points. That’s funny, it was down 210 points on Wednesday as well. And closed Thursday for the start of the Thanksgiving holiday.

Oh dear. I can imagine a Beeboid flunky checking the stats and not noticing this, but for it to get all the way to being on air is surprising (or at least would be, if we didn’t know the BBC so well).

Update: Will reports that Radio 4’s midnight news was the same. Doh!

Update: Bryan points out that Peter Barron, Editor of Newsnight, has apologised for this mistake, writing:

Our economics editor Stephanie Flanders was mortified – “unforgivable and embarrassing” was her verdict. This is, I am ashamed to say, not the first time we have made such a mistake. The markets information is almost always the last thing we do on Newsnight and in the scramble of a particularly lively programme last night we neglected to notice that the US markets were shut and blithely reported the day before’s figure. I’m sorry and I’m determined this won’t happen again.

Kudos to Peter for fessing up and taking steps to avoid a repeat, though I can’t help thinking that it’d be more reliable to look up American public holidays a year or two ahead and then annotate the Newsnight diary accordingly, rather than expect a flunky to check daily for something that only happens once in a while.

No news yet from Radio 4 re. their boo-boo over the market data.

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17 Responses to Dumb BBC:

  1. Steve_Mac says:

    Happy Thanksgiving!


  2. will says:

    same on R4 midnight News. There are obviously very few market watchers in the BBC newsroom.


  3. MattLondon says:

    It’s now Friday afternoon and on the BBC News business page they are still showing Wednesday’s closing price and that days 200 plus fall. On the page specific to the Dow they still have Wednesday’s price graph – with no indication of its date and no indication that yesterday was a public holiday in the US.

    I guess it IS incompetence rather than bias.


  4. Andrew says:

    Bias? Incompetence? Stupidity? It’s all good! Perhaps we should have a sub-heading, for the benefit of those who pitch up from time to time (usually from a IP address) thinking they can score points by finding something that isn’t strictly bias…


  5. JG says:

    Well, it is bias in a way. It just shows how the BBC is full of liberal arts graduates with no real understanding of the financial or business worlds.


  6. will says:

    But, JG, being public sector employees you would have thought they would know a lot about holidays.


  7. Bryan says:

    The BBC has just made history. It has apologised for the mistake unreservedly, without any qualifications, excuses or ands, ifs and buts. Not only that, it has promised not to repeat the mistake:


    Now if the BBC could only do the same regarding its gross bias….


  8. Reg Hammer says:

    “Our economics editor Stephanie Flanders was mortified – “unforgivable and embarrassing” was her verdict.”

    If an economics editor doesn’t even ‘remember’ when the Dow Jones is on holiday, without a big MAKE SURE YOU CHECK THE AMERICAN MARKETS ARE NOT ON A HOLIDAY note on her markets page, I’d be interested in finding out what part of her credentials got her employed by the Beeb in the first place.

    Especially as she was senior advisor at the US Treasury in Washington between 1997 – 2001.

    Can she find her arse from her elbow without arrow signs stuck on her arm-pads?

    Still, she may not be too clued up when it comes to market place holidays, but she does have the proper BBC credentials of being an Oxford public schoolie and a Uni grad.


  9. David Preiser says:

    These innocent, accidental, honest mistakes are totally understandable. These kinds of issues are very complex, and it takes quite a bit of background knowledge and experience to make sense of all of it for one’s own self, never mind explaining it in user-friendly, non-confrontational, layman’s terms.

    Needless to say, the BBC demands that the legion of very, very young people, who are paid very, very low wages, get right on it, and sort it out for the British, tellytax-paying public. These are the same underpaid youngsters who brought you the equally understandably erroneous articles about Dr. Bell’s phony story about an unjustly imprisoned Israeli non-Jew, the recent confusion about US gun crime, the story about the French predicting problems in Iraq (that had nothing whatsoever, wink wink nudge nudge, to do with their intransigence vis a vis supporting Sadaam Hussein) and warning the US about it, the story about a supposedly innocent student getting tasered by campus security, Al Gore’s climate change science bona fides, supposed problems with C4’s “Undercover Mosque” report, et cetera, et cetera (insert Yul Brynner’s “Hah” here).

    Pace Dr. Gregory (in all seriousness, as you are qualified for your job, an apparently endangered species), but the only qualification for so many presenters, producers, and editors of BBC news content seems to be their opinions.

    Oh, and Reg, while you are considering the qualifications of Stephanie Flanders, before you get to her very brief tenure as a speechwriter and half-baked adviser to then-U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, remember that she was the one who asked “Call Me Dave” Cameron if , as a (BBC darling) single mother the Conservative Party want her to get married.

    NB: Apologies for the fact that the BBC Editor’s blog to which I have just linked slams the Tory leader and praises Our Gordon.


  10. Starfish says:

    Lets be fair

    After all this holiday moves around all over the year and is entirely unpredictable isn’t it?

    One would have thought the BBC employees constructing hagiographies of La Clinton might have noticed its approach


  11. fnu snu says:

    During one of the most volatile periods in recent economic history the BBC’s economics editor knows nothing about the state of the most important market in the world.

    Tells you everything you need to know about the BBC.

    They copy and paste from either AP or Gvnt press releases and the rest is social engineering sprouting from a delusional belief that fascism dressed as marxism is the answer to all our problems.

    Al Beeb, Pravda, Ministry of Truth, to even have such nicknames. . . .


  12. David Gregory (BBC) says:

    I’d prefer the weather to the market figures. I’ve never really understood why their talismanic inclusion was more useful and somehow more “important”.
    If the numbers are so vital to a viewer then surely they would find them out anyway? And if they are illustrating a wider truth (the numbers are down! things are really bad! say) then you’d exepct a story about it in the programme somewhere anyway.
    Why do you find this more useful than knowing if you’ll need a brolly tomorrow?
    Surely most people have long term investments? And it strikes me if you’re moving stuff around and investing on a more short term basis you really shouldn’t be relying on Newsnight for the numbers!


  13. Arthur Dent says:

    Mr Gregory, just possibly the Dow & FTSE numbers thought to be valuable because they actually constitute what is called ‘News’ ie a snapshot of the state of the worlds marketplace at the end of each day, which I would have thought was worth a few seconds of the daily output.


  14. John Gentle says:

    I have sent in this comment to the Editor of Newsnight:

    C’mon admit it – you prefer it when the US market is down. When the Dow was up on Friday, Newsnight stated the market was closed.


  15. Bryan says:

    Problem is, The Editors blog habitually shuts down for a good long weekend early on a Friday afternoon and only starts to come to life again sometime on Tuesday.

    So any comments sent to Mr. Barron now are going to be backed up in a queue for some days and might not see the light of day – like the one on climate change that Andrew tried to send to Steve Herrmann of The Editors:


    Nick Reynolds intervened and reported in the comments that Steve Hermmann said he didn’t receive Andrew’s comment. Since Andrew is 100% sure that the comment went through OK, that leaves ony two possibilities:

    a) The comment was lost due to the BBC website’s endless technical difficulties.

    b) The “moderator” didn’t like the comment and dumped it.

    If I were Mr. Herrmann, I would try to find out what happened there – that is if The Editors blog is serious about engaging the public.


  16. Susan says:

    A true embarassment for al-Beeb, but what can you expect? I’ll remember this with a chuckle the next time one of their insufferable “journalists” brags about being an expert on the US. Dreadful.


  17. David Gregory (BBC) says:

    Arthur: Hmmm. Not convinced to be honest. It’s a snapshot. But not a very useful one. Taking a brolly or leaving a coat behind strikes me as more like “news you can use”