BBC issues apology for 'racist' edit
05 Feb 09

On Tuesday, Index on Censorship news editor Padraig Reidy wrote this article for the Guardian‘s Comment is Free site, pointing out a rather unfair and even dangerous edit of an interview with a striking worker at Lindsey:

…A voiceover by the BBC’s political editor, Nick Robinson, (about 12 mins in) told us: ‘Beneath the anger, ministers fear, lies straightforward xenophobia.’ Cut to woolly-hatted worker telling BBC reporter: ‘These Portugese and Eyeties –– we can’t work alongside of them.’ There we are: northern white bloke refusing to work with foreigners. Case closed.

Except, watch Paul Mason’s report on Newsnight, featuring the same interview (about 4:30 in):

These Portugese and eyeties –– we can’t work alongside of them: we’re segregated from them. They’re coming in in full companies.

Even taking into account the dodginess of the use of ‘Eyetie’ to refer to an Italian person, one has to admit that it would be very difficult to portray the second, full quote as racist or xenophobic. It’s a statement addressing basic workplace issues –– British workers literally cannot work alongside foreign workers, as they are separated. There really is no excuse for editing and presenting a quote in such a misrepresentative manner, unless one is setting out to prove something –– namely, that working-class people are racists.

According to the Telegraph, the BBC has now issued an apology for the report:

A BBC spokesman said: ‘While the striking worker described foreign workers in a way that some regard as offensive, the edit gave viewers the impression that he was not prepared to work alongside others from Italy and Portugal when in fact his full quote said companies were responsible for segregating workers from different nationalities.

‘There was no intention to deliberately mis-represent his views but we accept the edit on the 10 o’clock news gave the wrong impression, for which we are sorry.’