Bias and the BBC

Last year I found myself on Rapa Nui – the island formally known as Easter Island. Not that you really find yourself on Rapa Nui – as the most isolated inhabited island on the planet, it does take some concerted effort to get to.

Rapa Nui is one of the most stunning places I have ever been to. Even without the giant stone Moai statues it would be an amazing place to visit. A rugged volcanic island, fringed with black rocks and dashed by waves that get to take a run-up of thousands of kilometres. The countryside is peppered with volcanic cones and there are two complete craters: one massive and virtually complete and the other where the Moai were quarried.

Whilst I was on the island, I got talking to a retired US military man, who was on a brief holiday with his wife. Retired, but apparently still with lots of contacts in the military, when he heard I was photographing a book for the BBC he took me to task over Iraq. The BBC it seems were biased and left wing. They were helping to cause trouble in Iraq by only showing bad news. Things weren’t so bad on the ground, it was all exaggerated, or so his military contacts had told him. Yeah – right!

Not just because they were in effect paying for me to be on Easter Island, I have to say that the BBC is probably the most studiously impartial news organisation in the world. It is even a part of their very remit – the charter under which the organisation was formed.

The BBC even (albeit at my suggestion) recently forced the publishers of the Chinese translation of my first book Unforgettable Place To See Before You Die to recall and pulp the entire print run, as they printed the Tibet chapter without permission, moving it back into China and taking all mention of the invasion by the People’s Army in the 1950s.

The news coverage on the BBC website is exemplary: extensive, impartial and intelligent. Take some recent links from the Tibet section. You can find pictures of the controversial new Tibet railway, and enlightening articles about Fathoming Tibet’s Political Future and even the life of the Han Chinese migrants to Tibet. Some pages are just harrowing, such as Surviving a Tibetan Gulag and Fleeing a Tibetan Monastery.

I defy anyone to read all of these links and not learn something about Tibet – or to look forward to the Beijing Olympics. But if you want unbiased – maybe try Fox News, or ask the Military.

Images and words © Steve Davey 2007

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