Who can you trust?

This is not the first time we’ve seen an error on the BBC World News and reported it here. This time it’s a far more serious error in its almost propaganda-type effect. But I suspect it is probably just a careless error in reporting.

During my vitriolic rant on the Love Bites with Joey I mentioned how errors in defence related news stories really irks the DH. This morning on the BBC World News and on their website news story (click here), Ian Pannell who is “At the Scene” in Alleppo, Syria reported that “What appeared to be Russian-made MiG planes arced through the sky.” 

As soon as the DH saw the footage, he knew this was not a MiG. By looking at the WEFT (Wingshape, Engine Configuration, Fuselage Shape and Tail Type ) he could tell that this was definitely not a MiG.

July 25th, BBC World News footage – reported as Russian MiG in Syria conflict

Close up of supposed MiG from BBC World News TV footage

So I put him to the challenge. We looked up the Syrian Aircraft Holding inventory and went through each of the WEFT diagrams comparing them to the footage above. If you look carefully at the wing structure you’ll see that none of the MiG Weft diagrams below match the screen grab from the TV footage above. The wings in the above footage are perpendicular and the fuselage is not curved as in the MiG. While the wings might resemble the MiG 23, the tail wings do not.

Combined Weft diagram of MiGs in Syrian Airforce Inventory

The aircraft in the TV footage looks more like the L-39 Albatross, Weft diagram below:

L-39 Albatross, Czech made, Weft diagram

What’s the big deal, you might say – jets bombing cities is bad anyway, who cares what jet it is. But think about what it means when you say that a Russian made fighter jet was involved in the Syrian bombings. While it is highly possible that Russian made jets are being used in this conflict, in this instance the weight of the story is reinforced by a visual image that is actually false.

In fact, the L-39 Albatross is a Czech made aircraft, and the Czech Republic is part of NATO since 1999.  It’s not as severe as claiming that a bechamel sauce is a tomato based sauce but you get the picture – false reporting needs to be corrected.

We immediately went on to the BBC website and reported it under a Contact Us section to correct errors in everything from grammatical errors to factual errors. Here is a screengrab and hopefully if they read it, they might re-check their facts. This is the message I left for them:

Dear BBC,
your cover story on Wed, July 25th, AT THE SCENE account by Ian Pannell talks of what he thinks were Russian made MiG aircraft attacking Syrian cities. On your TV news footage the aircraft shown was NOT a MiG. On further analysis of WEFT diagrams of Syrian Aircraft Holdings, we found that this is definitely not a MiG and is most likely a Czech made L-39 Albatross. Ironically, Czech Republic is part of NATO…We expect much better checking of facts by the BBC in such a pivotal news story. Your report has instead given a wrongly image and statement. I request that you check those images again and clarify to your viewers.

Screen grab of BBC Newswatch Feedback form

So far no reply from the BBC but I shall report back if they do or if they alter their news reporting.

“Knowledge, like air, is vital to life. Like air, no one should be denied it.” (Alan Moore, V for Vendetta)



About nonsense girl

Galley slave, qualitative researcher working in development, married my best friend, writing about my life, my family, my dog, TV, Indian culture, astronomy and my garden. www.nonsensegirl.wordpress.com
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9 Responses to Who can you trust?

  1. Pingback: The Listening Post Al Jazeera | nonsense girl

  2. Pingback: NDTV Goof up « nonsense girl

  3. StuPC says:

    I wish I lived in your house – it really is a geek heaven, isn’t it? 😀
    But seriously, that sort of error has spared diplomatic incidents – possibly even wars – in the past. Shame on you, Auntie Beeb!

  4. Very interesting that you’d post this. This is the work of investigative journalists and evidence based advocacy experts everywhere 🙂 We’re flooded by information and take it for granted, there is never enough time to actually verify things. And yet, verification is one of the most important aspects of using information.

    • gkorula says:

      Thanks Maya, and this is just the BBC which gets it right almost always. I haven’t even dared go in to the Indian TV news channels whose misrepresentation of information is laughable.

  5. ashreyamom says:

    how can some most trusted news channels make such mistake, nope blunder.. hope they rectify soon. glad that you pointed it out.. why dont u put this article under womensweb i stood up blogathon..
    today is the last date..

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