Jeremy Bowen’s Welsh language remarks didn’t break ‘guidelines’, say BBC
Jeremy Bowen’s remarks about the Welsh language did not break editorial guidelines, according to the BBC.
The veteran BBC Middle East Editor came under for comments he made on the Radio 4 programme This Union: Being Welsh.
In the documentary, in which the Cardiff-born journalist claimed that the “determination” of the Welsh Government “to spread” the Welsh language “risks devaluing” his identity, he “returns home to Wales in search of what it means to be Welsh.”
The comments have sparked outrage on social media, and were criticised by Bowen’s BBC colleague Huw Edwards, as well as rebuffed by a number of Welsh politicians, including by Plaid Cymru MS Delyth Jewell and the Minister for the Welsh Language Jeremy Miles.
Edwards said he does “like and respect” Bowen, but added that his “take is 1970s Cardiff”.
He also asked whether people should “stop speaking Welsh to make him feel better” and that he “thought criticising government policy was against” the BBC’s “rules”.
In response to being asked by Nation.Cymru if Bowen’s comments about the Welsh language were consistent with its editorial guidelines, BBC spokesperson said: “This Union: Being Welsh is Jeremy’s personal exploration of Welsh identity – an issue which is unrelated to his day-to-day news reporting – and reflects a range of viewpoints on the topics it covers in keeping with the BBC’s guidelines.”
The BBC editorial guidelines state: “The Guidelines allow senior journalists to provide professional judgements, rooted in evidence, but they make clear that the audience should not be able to tell, from BBC output, ‘…the personal opinions of our journalists or news and current affairs presenters on matters of public policy, political or industrial controversy, or on ‘controversial subjects’ in any other area.’
“The BBC does not allow the expression of personal views by its news and current affairs presenters and reporters and journalists other than in exceptional and defined circumstances.
But views or opinions expressed elsewhere, on social media or in articles or books, can also give the impression of bias or prejudice and must also be avoided. In general nothing should be said publicly by BBC journalists that could not be said on air or on BBC platforms.
“Personal views are not the same as eyewitness accounts, evidence based assessments or professional judgements.
“Controversial subjects may be a matter of public policy or political or industrial controversy. It may also be a controversy within religion, science, finance, culture or ethics or any other matter.
“Major matters are usually matters of public policy or political or industrial controversy that are of national or international importance, or of a similar significance in a smaller coverage area.”
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