Dumber BBC! On Thursday, BBC Newsnight reported

that the “Dow Jones was substantially down amidst more credit crunch fears”, with a market fall of 210 points – all nonsense of course: the financial markets in the US were closed on Thursday for Thanksgiving Day, with the figure reported being Wednesday’s close.

On Friday afternoon, Peter Barron, Editor of Newsnight, wrote a rather contrite apology on the BBC Editors Blog, concluding:

I’m sorry and I’m determined this won’t happen again.

A couple of years ago we thought one way of avoiding problems with the markets was to abolish the spot altogether, but the outrage then means we won’t try that again. Instead, we have inserted a note in the markets page which will read for ever more:


Fast forward to Friday night’s programme, presented by Emily Weightless, sorry, Maitlis, and here, complete and unabridged, was Newsnight’s markets report for Friday:

Take you to a quick look at the markets, at the end of the week, the FTSE 100 share index closed up, sadly we can’t show the exact figures, um, holiday season as you know in the US, so the Dow Jones remains unchanged. Against the Euro, the currencies here, the pound up, against the dollar the pound was down. You’ll just have to take my word for it. We’ll get you some figures by Monday.

Evidently Peter’s determination wasn’t sufficient to keep Mr. (or Ms.) Cockup from making a second appearance! Leaving aside the generally slapdash and indifferent nature of the summary (“You’ll just have to take my word for it. We’ll get you some figures by Monday.”), Wall Street was trading on Friday, following the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday. Doh!

Still, at least Peter has had the courtesy to apologise to tellytaxpayers for the first of these visits from Mr. Cockup, which is more than can be said for BBC Radio News, guilty of the same mistake on Thursday night.

Update (2.50pm): Peter Barron has spoken again on the BBC Editors Blog:

I despair! We are having a complete revision of the way we collect and check the markets information.

Much mirth being had by Guido and co. too!

Thank you to Biased BBC reader David S. and others for the tip.

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14 Responses to Dumber BBC! On Thursday, BBC Newsnight reported

  1. Anonymous says:

    Against the Euro, the currencies here, the pound up, against the dollar the pound was down. You’ll just have to take my word for it.

    Somebody should tell Peter Barron about CNN’s website – a one-stop shop with tabs and links for NASDAQ and Dow Jones, currencies and foreign markets. Even a Beeboid could figure it out in 5 seconds. I suggest they bookmark it! Of course a calendar with US holidays might be a little bit trickier for them!


  2. Anonymous says:

    If they can’t figure out when markets are/aren’t trading then how can we expect Newsnight to bring to our screens more complex financial stories like Northern Crock etc?


  3. Dr R says:

    I think they should send a large contingent of “reporters” to America to join the hundreds that are already there so they can, errr, continue the high standards of propag- I mean reporting.


  4. ANOther says:

    David Gregory (BBC) commented in a previous thread:
    “..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!”

    which, combined with the news of the latest blunder, begs the question – what’s the purpose of the BBC Newsnight then? If it can’t be relied on to get fairly simple facts like this straight, then what confidence can be had of the rest of it’s content? If, to be sure of any information, the advice is to go elsewhere, why bother about watching Newsnight in the first place?


  5. llamas says:

    Newsnight is on, like, at night?

    Well, Wall Street tarded alimited day Friday – the NYSE closed at 1.00 pm EAstern time, which is 6.00 pm London time – and Newsnight could not figure out what the close was?

    Couldn’t have anything to do with the fact that all the major stock indices were significantly UP – the DJIA was up 181 points at the close – could it?

    If a 210 point drop in the DJIA is ‘substantially’ down, surely a 181-point rise is ‘substantially’ up? Responding, no doubt, to the very promising early retail sales figures for Friday, the traditional first day of the Christmas shopping season and a bellweather for the US retail economy, this would seem to indicate that the US economy remains much healthier than the BBC’s relentless claims of doom and disaster would have us to believe?

    No, couldn’t be that. What a cynic I am. Much more likely just plain old-fashioned incompetence.




  6. dave t says:

    Black Friday saw an 8% RISE in consumer spending apparently at first sight and yet somehow the BBC manages to turn this into a gloom and doom affair by asking semi illerate tourists or suchlike why they are having a poor Chrimbo! What are they LIKE?


  7. llamas says:

    On Monday 11/26, the DJIA fell 237 points.

    The business page of the BBC website healdined this as a ‘slump’, and literally Every Single Story on the associated page – from soup to nuts – is a relentlessly-negative litany of the alleged failures of the US economy. Every Single Story. Go look for yourself.

    So when the DJIA falls, the BBC is all over the story. When the DJIA rises, by a comparable amount, the BBC fails to report the rise, instead alleging (entirely untruthfully) that no market results are available.

    Bias much?




  8. Reg Hammer says:

    “Update (2.50pm): Peter Barron has spoken again on the BBC Editors Blog:”

    That link points to this blog for some reason.


  9. Reg Hammer says:

    I’ve been trying to leave a comment on the Editor’s blog. Surprise, surprise it’s not working as per usual. Just hangs.


  10. Bryan says:

    Peter Barron was promising to do something about the situation in this October 26th post:


    I sent him the following comment the next day – a Saturday – and it finally appeared on Tuesday the 30th:

    Mr. Barron, the rot is a lot deeper than you suggest. The BBC evidently has a powerful resistance against employing anyone who can sort this problem out. Next week you’ll be looking at the results of an analysis of the problems? Give me a break. Show the current crew that is pretending to help you the door and employ professionals. They’ll have your blogs up and running over a weekend.

    So as the days become weeks and the weeks months, the BBC, even with its vast resources, can’t or wont fix the problem. Here are some possiblities:

    a) Like all bloated, unaccountable, publically-funded bodies, the BBC simply has no sense of urgency or responsibility and basically doesn’t give a damn about the problem.

    b) The BBC has employed a bunch of BBC friends/relatives who don’t have the expertise to solve the problem but the BBC simply will not fire them.

    c) The BBC is trying to introduce some kind of filter to automatically weed out the more critical comments, perhaps with a system of key words, but they can’t get it to work.

    d) All of the above.


  11. Reg Hammer says:


    I will opt for b. You don’t get fired at the Beeb, just re-shuffled.


  12. Bryan says:

    Reg Hammer, I lean towards ‘a’ and ‘b’.


  13. Reg Hammer says:

    C would automatically be cancelled out by A and B anyway 🙂


  14. David Preiser says:

    It’s “A”, no question. However, some of them do give a damn, in my experience. But once one is in those offices, the hands become tied and one’s mind – whether competent or not – is often unable to reach outside of the confines of one’s own offices.