Two days ago, a group called the EDL came to leicester and staged a violent demonstration regarded by most external observers as anti-Muslim. Yesterday the people of Leicester responded with a celebration of unity in diversity. It may not surprise you to learn that the two events were not reported in the same way.
The following is the text of a letter of complaint I am sending to the BBC:
A news organization has a responsibility to report political issues in an even-handed way. Thus a statement from a spokesperson of one party is typically followed by an answering statement from the others.
So where was the balance last weekend in the BBC’s reporting of events in Leicester? The EDL had arranged a demonstration for Saturday, viewed by many as anti-Muslim. The City Council urged those people in Leicester who wished to present an opposing view to avoid direct confrontation, but instead to come into the city on the following day and demonstrate the fact that we as a city embrace and celebrate our religious and ethnic diversity.
The BBC, along with other news organizations, turned up and covered the EDL demonstrations. But what national news coverage did the city’s response to the EDL receive? I searched in vain for any coverage of Sunday’s huge celebration – which frankly dwarfed the EDL’s event.
How can the BBC justify such bias in its coverage of a political issue? The coverage is not just misrepresentative, it is also in itself damaging. At the very least, equal time should have been given to the city’s response.
If your answer is that the events on Sunday were not reported because there was no street violence, then you are telling the world that violence is an effective means of getting a message heard. Should that be the message of the BBC?
I'm adding this note following a call from someone who works for BBC Radio Leicester: The local radio did cover the One Leicester celebration. What is more, the local paper, the Mercury, has had excellent coverage. My point here is the stark imbalance in like-for-like coverage at the national level. I listened to equivalent news broadcasts on Saturday and Sunday evening and found the EDL demo had been covered but not One Leicester.