Faith restored in BBC programme

The trouble was, in this case the ‘faith’ content was bolted on by the producers of the programme by dishonest editing of what a contributor had actually said.

The Observer carries the story:

The BBC has been forced to apologise to an acclaimed psychologist and writer after editing her derogatory comments about religion so that a radio programme broadcast “the opposite” of what she had said.

Dorothy Rowe complained to the corporation that her interview on the Radio 2 programme What Do You Believe? had been so heavily edited that the final version misrepresented her views. During a 50-minute recorded interview, Rowe, best known for her work on depression, had attempted to comment on the subject proposed by the programme’s producer: “Why so many people want to believe in God and search for faith.” But she was aghast to hear how her words were eventually used.

In an email to the corporation, published on her website, Rowe stated: “My words were edited to make it sound that I held a favourable opinion of religion in that it gave a structure to a person’s life. What was not broadcast was what I had said about how such structures can be damaging to people. Being misquoted in this way concerned me greatly.”

Read on…

Terry Sanderson of the National Secular Society also contributed to the programme, but complained: “I gave a long interview, but when I listened to the finished product it contained just a couple of very brief soundbites from me which were not representative of the thoughts I had expressed…”

This kind of dishonest editing is, to my mind, worse than censorship. It is better that your words are not heard than cut up and spliced in out of context to give the impression that you support the very position you’re critiquing. This is worse than Censorship because it actually silences one’s views while creating the impression that one was been allowed to speak.

There’s more in The Telegraph too.

Dorothy Rowe has been quite magnanimous about it. The whole saga is presented on her website, but in her introduction she makes it clear that her complaint is not about the BBC itself:

This is not a complaint about the BBC. It is a complaint about the way a recorded interview was edited by a producer working for the BBC Religion and Ethics Department. The result was that what was broadcast was the opposite of what I had actually said. Why this producer failed to maintain the high standards of the BBC I do not know.

If you’re interested in the minutiae, it’s all laid out in detail on Rowe’s website.