Recycled terrorism hysteria
We were first alerted to a scaremongering BBC news report
by its trailer. Shown an hour or so before the BBC1
Ten O'Clock News (23/1/07), the trailer boasted that
the news would be featuring dramatic images of an alleged
terrorist bombing plot.
This was indeed the headline story of the Ten O'Clock
News, which began with the following announcement:
"Dramatic new images of the
moment an alleged suicide bomber tried to blow up a train.
[The images are shown together with the dramatic introductory
music to the news] He's challenged
by an off-duty fireman as a mother and young baby look on.
Panic as the carriage empties within seconds, but a few passengers
give chase. On the run, Ramzi Mohammed he and five
others deny conspiracy to murder".
Frightening and alarming stuff. Anyone watching at this point
would be forgiven for thinking that some new terrorist
atrocity had taken place. After all, it's headline news -
it must be a fresh story?
It's not until a few minutes later that we hear what it's
"The jury in the case of six men
accused of plotting to bomb the London transport network has
been shown dramatic new images of events on the 21st of July
In other words, the headline news story is that a court
has been shown some 18-month-old images.
ITN's virtual news story
A similarly scaremongering approach was taken by ITN in its
coverage (1/3/07) of the alleged "Birmingham terror plot",
in which some people were alleged to be planning a kidnapping
and (it's rumoured) a beheading. With nothing more substantial
to go on than allegations and rumours (and
government spin), ITN ran a headline story which took
up most of its 30-minute 10.30pm News slot.
Every conceivable fear-raising device was used old
archive footage of terrorists and terrorist beheadings, gratuitous
ruminations on the effects of such terrorist attacks becoming
widespread in Britain, alarming but baseless speculations,
more footage of terrorist executioners standing behind their
blindfolded victims, wielding instruments suitable for decapitation,
At one point a commentator stated that the terrorists didn't
need to successfully carry out their plans that their
goals were accomplished simply by bringing fear to the country.
He said this without any hint of irony in a "news"
report which seemed to accomplish precisely this goal.
If you notice any similar TV coverage, you might want to
contact those responsible (eg see the following). We'd also
be grateful if you could forward us
Helen Boaden (Director, BBC news)
Craig Oliver (Editor, BBC1 Ten
Jonathan Munro (Head of news,
Ian Rumsey (Editor, ITV News)
For a longer list of media
contacts click here >