‘The Truth about Immigration’ was a documentary broadcast by the BBC on Tuesday 7 January. It was presented by the BBC’s political editor and had been trailed in advance both widely and deeply. Viewers were promised it would be full of new clarity and insight, based on new and powerful facts and figures. Further, it would be imbued with unusual honesty from politicians and senior civil servants, and – even – from the BBC itself.
In the event the programme was a shoddy and shameful shambles. Visually, technically, conceptually, ethically, politically and emotionally, it was the very worst kind of tabloid TV, an hour of bias against understanding, totally unworthy to be described as public service broadcasting.
There is a critical review of the programme at http://leftcentral.org.uk/2014/01/15/truth-immigration-and-the-bbc/#more-3896. The review lists the programme’s flaws and faults, and closes by suggesting some broad principles for responsible journalism about immigration and related topics. The principles are relevant for all media, but particularly for public service broadcasting. They include a reference to a fine and sensitive documentary that the BBC broadcast on the day following ‘The Truth about Immigration’. Entitled ‘The Hidden World of Britain’s Immigrants’, and presented by Fergal Keane, it reflected compassion, humanity and respect, but was not merely soft-hearted.