(I'd have written "John", but that has four letters instead of the two in "Me".)
To Helen Boaden
Director BBC News
Dear Helen Boaden
I'm requesting an urgent investigation into the BBC's written response to a complaint on the reporting of Israel's attack on the Mavi Marmara aid boat to Gaza.
(Israel admits Gaza flotilla raid 'mistakes', 13 July 2010.)
The article includes this particular line:
"Eight Turks and one Turkish-American died in the naval raid in international waters, which provoked a major outcry."Having asked why the BBC had used the word "died", rather than the more accurate "killed", the complainant was told:
"In the story you cite, it is rather more likely that "died" was used simply because there are space restrictions on the first four paragraphs of any story, and it is a shorter word."http://members5.boardhost.com/medialens/msg/1280354366.html
One is almost lost for words, just as the BBC seems lost for space to permit two additional letters, making a six letter word, to describe the actual manner in which nine people lost their lives.
Are those lives really that unimportant, so inconsequential, that the BBC can't allow - among multiple paragraphs of 'Israel says' comment - two additional letters?
These nine people were, quite evidently, killed by Israeli commandos. And there should be no need to explain the more appropriate use of that word rather than the more passive "died".
The crass insensitivity of this sentence is almost beyond belief. But it helps confirm the tortured ways in which BBC language is selected, abbreviated and neutralised in the service of power. Even when reporting the deaths of human beings.
The BBC should issue an immediate, unequivocal apology for this disgraceful statement, directed, in particular, to the families of those killed on the Mavi Marmara.
I await your considered response on the matter.
I am copying this letter to the BBC Trust.
Dear Mr Hilley,
Thank you for your email to Helen Boaden which has been passed to me.
Should the person who made the original complaint wish to take it further within our complaints procedure that is a matter for that complainant. But if you would like to make a separate complaint about BBC coverage we would ask you to send it via the webform at www.bbc.co.uk/complaints. The BBC has an established complaints procedure to ensure that correspondence is directed towards the appropriate journalist or programme. In this way, complaints are handled in the most efficient and effective way for our audiences and for our programme-makers.
Ta fr yr lett. Yr dng a marv job.