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Formal complaint to BBC News: I would expect (news host Paxman) to interview, not cheer on Prof Dawkins

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A viewer files after the Dawkins “Newsnight” interview, promoting his children’s book, The Magic of Reality:

I would never describe Richard Dawkins or Jeremy Paxman as stupid, but neither would I describe John Polkinghorne, Richard Swinburne, or the Queen as stupid. Last night while Newsnight was touting Richard Dawkins new book, both Dawkins and Paxman used the word “stupid” (not ignorant of facts, or misinformed, or holding believes contrary to their own) to describe people who are religious believers. I am not surprised or offended by Professor Dawkins’ viewpoint, but I am by Mr. Paxman’s. As a BBC News presenter I would expect him to interview, not cheer on Prof Dawkins. I would also expect the BBC to involve a credible representative of an alternative view (e.g. Professor Polkinghorne) to balance out the report. What I do not think appropriate is for a news show to tout books, and cheer on a specific viewpoint without an attempt to provide some balance. (No link)

Thoughts?

What purpose to government broadcasters like the BBC (or in Canada, the CBC) serve these days?

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Hat tip: Stephanie West Allen at Brains on Purpose

5 Replies to “Formal complaint to BBC News: I would expect (news host Paxman) to interview, not cheer on Prof Dawkins

  1. 1
    Upright BiPed says:

    The following is the Preamble to the Society of Jounalist’s Code of Ethics:

    Members of the Society of Professional Journalists believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty. Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist’s credibility. Members of the Society share a dedication to ethical behavior and adopt this code to declare the Society’s principles and standards of practice.

    That preamble of followed by an accounting of the conduct that professional journalist are to adhere to. Some of those are listed below:

    — Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible.

    — Diligently seek out subjects of news stories to give them the opportunity to respond to allegations of wrongdoing.

    — Make certain that headlines, news teases and promotional material, photos, video, audio, graphics, sound bites and quotations do not misrepresent. They should not oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context.

    — Tell the story of the diversity and magnitude of the human experience boldly, even when it is unpopular to do so.

    — Examine their own cultural values and avoid imposing those values on others.

    — Avoid stereotyping by race, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, geography, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance or social status.

    — Support the open exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.

    — Give voice to the voiceless; official and unofficial sources of information can be equally valid.

    — Ethical journalists treat sources, subjects and colleagues as human beings deserving of respect.

    — Admit mistakes and correct them promptly.

    — Expose unethical practices of journalists and the news media.

    — Abide by the same high standards to which they hold others.

    In case anyone out there is holding their breath, I can assure you, there is no need to .

  2. 2
    Blue_Savannah says:

    Last night while Newsnight was touting Richard Dawkins new book, both Dawkins and Paxman used the word “stupid” (not ignorant of facts, or misinformed, or holding believes contrary to their own) to describe people who are religious believers.

    Sounds like Dawkins and his crony (Paxman) are getting really desperate. Of course they ‘KNOW’ God doesn’t exist, they themselves are omniscient.

  3. 3
    David Tyler says:

    Paxman did ask a probing question (at 2:15): “If you are told that you are a unique creation made in God’s image, loved by God, as opposed to the scientific conclusion which you must come to that you are a pretty insubstantial speck in the cosmos, one is comforting and the other is slightly alarming, isn’t it?.”

    The question betrays a misunderstanding of science, as science does not make value judgments about us being a pretty insubstantial speck in the cosmos. Furthermore, Christians are well aware of our physical insignificance – as is apparent in Psalm 8. Our sense of significance comes via relationships – supremely our relationship with God. There is science built on theism – where we don’t feel lonely in the cosmos because the cosmos speaks of the handiwork of God. There is a science built on atheism – where we do feel lonely and alarmed, because everything is so impersonal. Unfortunately, Paxman did not push this door to find out what was inside.
    In his response, Dawkins said effectively: “One is false and one is true, and truth has value.” He got away with this – and I can only think that Paxman accepts atheism as true and thought that Dawkins could not be challenged on this point. What Paxman should have done was to expose Dawkins as a purveyor of scientism, using science to further his own philosophical agenda.

  4. 4
    ciphertext says:

    Dawkins has an “opinion”, but that should be recognized for what it is. Simply, an opinion. I suspect that at some point in time, viewpoint discrimination will come back to haunt these fellows just as surely as the consequences of the choices they make.

  5. 5
    Grunty says:

    Neither Dawkins nor Paxman used the word “stupid” to describe religious believers as such – they used the word to describe those who believe the earth to be only 6000 years old. Obviously there is some overlap, and those who believe in a young earth always do so for religious reasons, but they certainly weren’t calling all religious believers stupid.

    Given the immense evidence against a young earth, it’s understandable why they both used the word. Few in the UK would disagree – though many in the US might.

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