BBC News controller answers critics of pagan festival coverage

The controller of the BBC News channel, BBC News at One and deputy head of the BBC Newsroom, Kevin Bakhurst, has responded to criticisms of the broadcaster’s coverage of a pagan festival on Halloween, Sunday 31 October.

On the BBC’s The Editors blog, Bakhurst refers to a Telegraph blog post by Damian Thompson who wrote that the BBC’s religious affairs correspondent was “enchanted by paganism” and a Daily Mail headline: “BBC accused of neglecting Christianity as it devotes time to pagan festival”, before explaining the editorial decisions behind the coverage.

It was Halloween. A good chance, we thought, to explore the background to paganism. I would simply suggest that the decision to cover some aspects of paganism on one day indicates an interest in the fact there is in the UK a range of faiths – and among some a lack of faith. Our reporting should be seen in the context of BBC News’s wider coverage of religion and religious events where stories, as ever, are based on topicality and editorial merit. And Christianity – being the country’s main religion – still remains the faith with the most coverage

3 thoughts on “BBC News controller answers critics of pagan festival coverage

  1. lokirat

    its was a thrill to get coverage. one meesly day we get a mention and the christians are screaming!! i wish they would start living by love your neighbour and not turning the other cheek on us 99% of the time. thank you for mentioning us, bbc. its greatly appreciated. and i hope to hear more 🙂 im under the impression that the bbc is for everyone? thank you for proving this and hopefully said persons will realise what it means to be ignored. not nice is it…

  2. kenneth

    As a journalist of 15 years and a pagan of six, I see the whole issue as a bit of culture war grandstanding and misunderstanding of how news judgments are made. Stories are chosen not based on whose side “deserves” coverage but on the timeliness, significance and to some extent, the novelty of an event. Samhain (aka Halloween) is THE most important and solemn holy day in the year to pagans.

    The Christian counterparts, All Saints Day/All Souls Day, are comparatively very minor days on their calendar. Pagan celebrations are also coming more into the spotlight because they are attracting significant numbers of people, where they used to be a very obscure, almost oddball movement. That’s a big change, and makes a story newsworthy in itself. On Christmas, I’m sure the focus will turn very heavily to Christianity, as it should.

  3. Vivianne Crowley

    The Pagan Federation is grateful to the BBC for doing what licence fee payers pay it to do – to provide objective coverage of life in contemporary Britain. It’s sad that so many people feel the need to bolster their spiritual beliefs by denigrating the faith and beliefs of others.

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