The only thing we can be sure of about the future is that it will be absolutely fantastic. So if what I say now seems to you to be very reasonable, then I have failed completely. Only if what I tell you appears absolutely unbelievable, have we any chance of visualizing the future as it really will happen.

- Arthur C. Clarke (h/t Brin)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Beeb Apologises


Hallelujah! A first glimmer of responsibility from the mainstream press.

Professor Trevor Davies, UEA’s Pro Vice Chancellor for Research, received a letter, as reproduced below, from Mr Stephen Mitchell, Deputy Director and Head of News Programmes, BBC News.
Dear Professor Davies, firstly I should apologise once again for the delay in this response to one of the matters you raised earlier this month when you visited BBC News. I had promised to get back to you more quickly than in fact proved possible, given that several people involved in the edition of the Today Programme last December proved difficult to contact and our own archive of a programme broadcast seven months ago proved less reliable than I had hoped !

However I can now share with you the results of my investigation into your complaint about a sentence in a John Humphrys introduction to an item in the Today Programme on December 4th last year.
At 8.10 am, after the 8 O'clock news bulletin had ended, John Humphrys opened a discussion on the so called "Climate Gate" affair as follows:

"The theft of a few emails from a relatively obscure university in East Anglia is threatening the future of the planet. And if that sounds like the plot of a bad disaster movie ... well, suspend your disbelief for just a moment. The facts are that the emails were stolen and they revealed that some researchers in the university's Climatic Research Unit had been distorting the debate about global warming to make the threat seem even more serious than they believed it to be. It is also the case that the mightily influential United Nations intergovernmental panel on climate exchange regards this as so serious its head has announced that it will investigate. Where we enter less certain territory is what effect all this will have on attempts to fight global warming by those who believe it really DOES threaten the planet. Not that everyone does. Phillip Stott, emeritus professor of biogeography at London University is sceptical and he's with me. I'm also joined by Jonathon Porritt, the founder of the Forum for the Future and former environmental adviser to the govt .But first our Environment Correspondent, Richard Black:"
The first thing to say is that
the sentence : "The facts are that the emails were stolen and they revealed that some researchers in the university's Climatic Research Unit had been distorting the debate about global warming to make the threat seem even more serious than they believed it to be" is incorrect. For that I apologise wholeheartedly on behalf of the Today Programme.
There's considerable hemming and hawing after that, which you can see here, but at least we have this much. That's a start. Will we ever get as much from the New York Times?

Thanks to Big City Lib for the tip.

5 comments:

David B. Benson said...

Took their time about it.

amoeba said...

As David Benson said and AFAICT this 'apology' doesn't feature ANYWHERE on the BBC website.

So while the manufactured kerfuffle was broadcast in public, the apology was apparently made privately.

Balance anyone?

As a BBC licence-payer, I expected much more and I am very disappointed.

Deech56 said...

What's important is whether the BBC is that sloppy in the future.

新吳順 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
David B. Benson said...

amoeba --- Complain to the BBC administrator and your M.P.