Leak makes BBC admit 'tone not always right'

The BBC has admitted it “does not always get it right” after defence correspondent Paul Adams fired off a missive to news executives criticising the corporation for its coverage of the war.

On Monday Adams sent a memo to Roger Mosey, head of TV news, and Stephen Mitchell, head of radio news, from his base at US central command in Qatar. In it he accused the BBC of understating the coalition’s military successes and exaggerating the impact of casualties on its advance through Iraq.

“I was gobsmacked to hear, in a set of headlines today, that the coalition was suffering ‘significant casualties’. This is simply not true. Nor is it true to say – as the same intro stated – that coalition forces are fighting ‘guerrillas’. It may be guerrilla warfare, but they are not guerrillas,” Adams wrote in the memo, which was leaked to The Sun.

He also attacked the BBC for describing the loss of two soldiers as “the worst possible news for the armed forces”.

A BBC spokeswoman told Press Gazette: “There seems to have been a memo and we can’t confirm its contents, but this is the kind of debate about editorial tone that’s going on in newsrooms all over the world about this particular story.” She added that the story was immensely complicated and difficult and the big challenge for the BBC, as for other broadcasters, was to get the balance right.

“We are constantly monitoring the language and tone of reports to achieve this balance. We think we get it right most of the time but we know we don’t always.” She also said that the phrase referring to the loss of two soldiers as “the worst possible news for the armed forces” was in actual fact read as “the worst possible news for the families of armed forces”.

By Wale Azeez

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