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BBC keeps trampling on editorial guidelines re Venezuela

By Aleksander Boyd

London 25.08.05 | Tuesday, 23 August 2005, 21:24 GMT 22:24 UK the BBC reports "Revolution on Venezuela's estates" by one Clive Myrie from BBC News, Washington. The fairy tale starts thusly: "One of Britain's richest men, Lord Vestey, says he'll fight the Venezuelan government to stop hundreds of peasant farmers taking over land on his cattle ranches in South America" [sic]. So right there, the author sets the stage for the manifestation of that very natural and human sentiment of identifying oneself with the underdog, with the poor and by extension with that that purportedly defends the dispossessed, read Hugo Chavez.

I shall not bother learned readers with the many inaccuracies and grossly subjective prevarications of this BBC journalist. However it does upset me tremendously that my esteemed and noble friend Dr. Gregory Wilpert is cited throughout the piece without a half decent introduction. The BBC editorial guidelines, under a rather notorious heading that reads "Impartiality & Diversity of Opinion" (sic) contains a protocol that details how academics and journalist invited to opine in matters of interests ought to be presented. Thus my dear friend Dr. Wilpert is given a fair chance to expound his views on Venezuela's land reform. However nowhere in the article could I find a reference to his advocacy in favour of Hugo Chavez, much less a mention upon the fact that he is the editor in chief of a website funded by the Chavez administration.

Believe you me, that put me off, knowing as I do, the level of devotion and commitment to the Chavez revolution that Dr. Wilpert has demonstrated over the last 4 years. He has even written laudatory books about Fidel Castro's heir. For that reason I gave a call to the people at the complaints department to ensure that Dr. Gregory Wilpert is properly presented to BBC readers the world over, in case confusion vis-a-vis his credentials arise.

I have seen many Venezuelan experts come and go in the BBC pages; from Greg Palast to Richard Gott. The time for Dr. Gregory Wilpert seems to be coming and for that we must all feel very grateful. To conclude a sentence from the impartiality editorial guidelines that sums up the true spirit of the BBC, which I consider pertinent to reproduce:

we must ensure we avoid bias or an imbalance of views on controversial subjects.

Surely Dr. Wilpert, a beacon of integrity, with his vast knowledge of all things Venezuela shall surely contribute in a very positive manner to the attainment of that balanced impartiality sought after by the BBC.

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