In their articles, the BBC often uses more than one image to illustrate their points – but not in the way most would expect. The best and most recent example of this would be in the article “Demonetisation: Will India’s rupee ban decide a crucial election?” published this Wednesday the 15th on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ban of the 500 and 1000 rupee notes and the further effects and political implications this will have in India.
BBC best chose to visually supplement this article with the very people being affected by the rupee ban, who will also be the ones voting for whether Modi’s party, BJP, will succeed in the upcoming elections in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
The captions of the images still tie it to the article, of course.
Yet note how refreshing this is – in an age where when we talk about politics we immediately think of those in power (and how they’re using said power), this is finally an article that focuses on the people. This might banal, yet with this the BBC gives focus to those legitimately affected by these policies.
On top of that (quite literally), the BBC also has short videos at the top of most of its articles, with text in-video to give even more information on the topic. Conveniently, most of these videos (and even some exclusive content) can be found on BBC News’ Instagram account:
In all, the BBC knows how to use visual media to its fullest to convey its message in their articles, which only makes sense – the BBC did start as a television channel after all.
“Newstrack” is a project for the JO304 Online Journalism class, where students follow a major, relevant news source, “tracking” their coverage of current events and showing their unique points of view. For my own newstrack project, I am tracking the BBC.
According to the BBC’s Royal Charter (yes, they have one, written in the name of Queen Elizabeth the Second), “the Mission of the BBC is to act in the public interest, serving all audiences through the provision of impartial, high-quality and distinctive output and services which inform, educate and entertain.” They also have six “Public Purposes,” two of which are “To provide impartial news and information to help people understand and engage with the world around them” and “To reflect, represent and serve the diverse communities of all of the United Kingdom’s nations and regions.” Putting this all together, it is safe to say that the BBC will have a chiefly foreign perspective on American news, when they report on it.
Interestingly, when it came to Trump’s inauguration (and to an extent, most news about Trump), the BBC compiled it online on a page titled “Trump Takes Office,” a sort of archive of all news related to Trump. The page contains the latest news and videos, along with a “What You Need To Know” section containing three articles (one on “The Rise of Trump,” one on the administration’s lies regarding the inauguration, and one on “What Trump Supporters Want”), a “Background” section containing six articles (with the earliest being from January 11th), and a “Features and Analysis section (with once again six articles, including one comparing Obama’s 2009 inauguration to Trump’s, and another curiously enough on the “Incredible Journey of Trump’s Mother”). The language of these articles is curt, precise and to the point, showing few traces of irony but being quite critical in tone – a good example of this would be in the article “First 100 days: What executive actions has Trump taken?”. Sentences like “Anti-abortion activists expected Mr. Trump to act quickly on this – and he didn’t disappoint them” or having the sentence “It remains to be seen how Mr. Trump will pay for the wall, although he has repeatedly insisted that it will be fully paid for by the Mexican government, despite their leaders saying otherwise” being immediately followed by a link to an article titled “How realistic is Donald Trump’s Mexico wall?” (with the sentence serving as the link being “How exactly will Trump ‘build the wall’?”) give readers a glimpse into the BBC’s stance on Trump’s actions: as journalists, and especially as foreign journalists, they cannot show that they condone or condemn any of Trump’s actions, but their tone denotes that the BBC will at the very least keep a stern eye on Trump no matter what he does.
A side note: as irrelevant as this may seem, that aforementioned article on Trump’s mother, Scottish émigré Mary Anne MacLeod, is even more telling of the BBC’s (and perhaps therefore the UK’s) view on Trump. From about the middle to the end of it, the article highlights just how much Donald Trump is detached from his very close ancestry and family in Scotland – whereas his sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, “regularly [visits] her cousins on Lewis [MacLeod’s city of origin]” and “has done a lot of work for the island” – ending on a perfectly sour note in the form of a quote by Scottish genealogist Bill Lawson: “Donald arrived off a plane and then disappeared again. One photoshoot, that was it. I can’t say he left much of an impression behind him.”
As for coverage of the Women’s March, two articles and a video out of the several published online come to mind: “Women’s March: A United Message Spanning Generations” and “Women’s March: Why are UK Women Protesting?”, both from the BBC’s UK section, and the video “Women’s March: Anti-Trump protesters take to the streets,” from BBC’s World section. Both articles explain the Women’s March from a British perspective: “Why are UK Women Protesting” is a series of interviews with women participating in the march and why they’ve become so involved in what would seem like American-centric politics (with the main reasoning behind it being that it affects women around the world), and “A United Message” focusing more on families, mainly mothers protesting for the rights of their daughters. “Anti-Trump protesters take to the streets,” finally, may be only thirty-three seconds long, but is a good show of how several countries took part in this globally united protest.
Personally, as someone who is both foreign and involved/interested in the journalism industry, I approve of how the BBC is handling the Trump administration and the events it causes. While it’s “watchful eye”-like tone may seem a little loose considering it cannot directly protest Trump or “do anything about it,” the fact that it speaks out against his policy, albeit in the BBC’s own subtle (and almost quintessentially British) way, is more than good enough.