Balen's open dialogue
by: Leslie Bunder - Last updated: 2003-11-12
Malcolm Balen will look into BBC news coverage
Over the last couple of years there has been plenty of debate over the way in which the BBC covers the Middle East across radio, TV and online. To some is is very anti-Israel while to others it is very pro-Israel.
In order to address the way it is covering the issue of Israel and its neighbours, the BBC has recently appointed a senior journalist to examine the way it is reporting the region.
Malcolm Balen, a former editor of the BBC's Nine O'Clock News and more recently Head of News for ITV in London, is a veteran journalist who relishes his new challenge and hopes to resolve some of the issues by having open dialogue.
"I hope I can bring my editorial experience to bear. I'm here as a consultant, which means I have free rein to talk to editors and reporters, examine what the BBC's doing, and how it's doing it. I hope I can also get out and about to meet interested viewers and listeners."
For Balen, the role will allow him to examine all areas of how the BBC operates when it comes to reporting of the Middle East. "For the first time in my career, I can take a step back from daily coverage and examine the reporting of a single story, across news and current affairs, on television, radio and online."
According to Balen, having open dialogue with the BBC audience is not just a statement, but something that he is actively seeking to encourage. He knows it is a challenge to show that he is interested in all sides.
"It's right and proper that our audiences feel passionate about the BBC's Middle East coverage. It's too important not to care," he said. "So the toughest challenge, I think, is to persuade viewers and listeners that I am fair-minded about the points they may want to raise."