7 March 2014

Lecturer reveals BBC doubts over Battle of Orgreave coverage

A Sheffield journalism lecturer has used freedom of information laws to uncover internal BBC concerns about the way it covered the 'Battle of Orgreave' during the miners' strike, which began 30 years ago this month.

A photograph of Tony Harcup alongside the jacket for the Settling Scores book.

Official minutes obtained by Tony Harcup – a Senior Lecturer with the Department of Journalism Studies – show that just the day after the confrontation in South Yorkshire (pictured above), BBC executives were already expressing misgivings about a lack of balance and impartiality on national television news bulletins.

The BBC was subsequently accused by the National Union of Mineworkers and others of editing images to create the impression that mounted police charged pickets only after officers came under sustained violent attack.

Unbalanced

Three decades on, Tony Harcup has used the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) to discover that BBC chiefs themselves felt at the time that TV coverage of Orgreave was unbalanced – although they rejected any suggestion that there was deliberate bias against striking miners.

A detailed account of the BBC documents released under FOI can be found in a book chapter by Tony published later this month.

'Reporting the next battle: lessons from Orgreave' appears in Settling Scores: The Media, the Police and the Miners' Strike, edited by Granville Williams and published in March 2014 by the Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom.

Tony has also reported on the story for the Press Gazette.

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