Great blog post from a BBC editor about the difficulty of reporting in Libya — namely they can’t get any journalists into the country:
The BBC and other news organisations are relying on those on the ground to tell us what’s happening. Their phone accounts – often accompanied by the sound or gunfire and mortars – are vivid. However, inevitably, it means we cannot independently verify the accounts coming out of Libya. That’s why we don’t present such accounts as “fact” – they are “claims” or “allegations”.
Similarly, the flow of video – the so-called “user-generated-content” – has dwindled to a trickle as the authorities have periodically turned off the Internet. That means we have an additional responsibility – to be clear with our audiences not just what little we do know, but perhaps more significantly, what we don’t.
Critics of the BBC’s coverage of Libya 25 years ago accused our reporting from Tripoli and Benghazi of being “riddled with inaccuracy, innuendo & imbalance”. I suspect Colonel Gaddafi’s supporters will make the same allegations about the international coverage of events in Libya this weekend. It wasn’t true then, it isn’t true now. But when we’re not on the ground, we have to work twice as hard to make sure that we’re telling all sides of the story.
If the reporting is one-sided, blame the country that’s barring journalists from entering.