Hey there! Sign in to join this conversationNew here? Join for free

LSE students union on Panorama: "BBC used LSE students as a human shield" Watch

    • Thread Starter
    Online

    20
    ReputationRep:
    John Sweeney, the highly experienced BBC Panorama investigative reporter has been in North Korea, secretly filming undercover for 8 days, with his wife and a cameraman, posing as part of an LSE student trip.

    Now, both LSE and the LSE Students Union have condemned Sweeney for placing their students at risk. Professor George Gaskell, Pro-Director at the School says that "students had potentially been put in a potentially extremely dangerous situation". The SU Gen-Secretary said that the trip was "organised as a ruse" by the BBC and had placed students in an extremely dangerous situation.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-22144667

    Now the Chairman of LSE, Peter Sutherland, has asked the BBC to drop the programme, which they have refused to do.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-22144667

    It will be broadcast tomorrow at 8.30pm on BBC1 (Panorama).
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006t14n

    It would be interesting to know what TSR people think about this. Should a university get involved in this kind of covert journalism? Were the students given enough information? Should students take these kinds of risks, if they know about them? Were they told enough?

    It must have been quite scary to be part of what was basically a secret TV filming expedition in what is one of the most ruthless and oppressive regimes, probably the most, in the world. I have to hand it to those students, if they did knowingly take on the risks, they were very courageous.
    Offline

    13
    ReputationRep:
    There are conflicting accounts of what was going on, but there are several examples of clear deception. The BBC may have told the students there was a journalist present before arriving at Beijing, but it was only AT Beijing that they were informed there were in fact three journalists, when it was a bit too late to change plans without going through enormous inconvenience. It seems fairly clear that Sweeney and his wife were being devious, revealing nuggets of information at just the right times to claim that the students could give 'informed consent', but without scaring students off and jeopardising their expedition.
    Offline

    13
    ReputationRep:
    I will also add that I don't think the BBC is in a position to outright deny the Chairman of LSE's request without a more thorough discussion of his concerns. 30 minutes of documentary is nothing compared to the ability of a university's academics to carry out their research. I think the BBC have an inflated sense of self-worth. Furthermore, from the sounds of things they were on the same guided tour that any NK tourist is given on arrival in the country, so the program will contain no information that you cannot already find out in freely available youtube videos such as this and this.
    Offline

    16
    ReputationRep:
    Whatever happened, the BBC should show it. We have hardly any insight into what North Korea is like, and it would be pretty dumb to throw away any info gained on it.
    Offline

    16
    ReputationRep:
    To protect their image, shouldn't LSE have not publicised "We helped the BBC film in N Korea" and requested that nothing incriminating was shown in the documentary rather than announcing very publicly that they do smuggle reporters in and out of the country? N Korea are certainly going to be more suspicious of any LSE trip there in the future.

    It seems that several knew about at least one journalist, and that they were put in a compromising position before being told there would be more journalists so they were pressured into agreeing. Whilst that's not right, I don't see how blocking the programme from going out helps at all, and publicising it rather than discreetly getting the BBC to blur everyone's faces definitely damages LSE, and probably UK universities as a whole.
    Offline

    13
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by geetar)
    Whatever happened, the BBC should show it. We have hardly any insight into what North Korea is like, and it would be pretty dumb to throw away any info gained on it.
    It's a point that's been made several times, but they WILL NOT gain any new information as they were on the same tour as any other North Korean tourist and will not have been shown anything the DPRK government did not want them to see.
    Offline

    16
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Unkempt_One)
    It's a point that's been made several times, but they WILL NOT gain any new information as they were on the same tour as any other North Korean tourist and will not have been shown anything the DPRK government did not want them to see.
    They might not gain any new information, but because they are the media they will be able to distribute it more effectively.

    They should definitely show it.
    • Thread Starter
    Online

    20
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Unkempt_One)
    It's a point that's been made several times, but they WILL NOT gain any new information as they were on the same tour as any other North Korean tourist and will not have been shown anything the DPRK government did not want them to see.
    It will be interesting to compare the programme with existing material - clearly this point is crucial in determining if this is all just hype by the BBC, or if Sweeney has genuinely new revelations.
    • Thread Starter
    Online

    20
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Hopple)
    To protect their image, shouldn't LSE have not publicised "We helped the BBC film in N Korea" and requested that nothing incriminating was shown in the documentary rather than announcing very publicly that they do smuggle reporters in and out of the country? N Korea are certainly going to be more suspicious of any LSE trip there in the future.

    It seems that several knew about at least one journalist, and that they were put in a compromising position before being told there would be more journalists so they were pressured into agreeing. Whilst that's not right, I don't see how blocking the programme from going out helps at all, and publicising it rather than discreetly getting the BBC to blur everyone's faces definitely damages LSE, and probably UK universities as a whole.
    It certainly doesn't sound as if LSE management have handled it very well. Maybe they are being partly influenced by the fear of litigation by angry parents - some of the students have apparently had threatening letters from the NK government! It would be interesting to see what those say. :rolleyes:
    Offline

    14
    ReputationRep:
    I think the phrase "BBC used LSE students as a human shield" is a little misleading.
    Offline

    13
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by geetar)
    They might not gain any new information, but because they are the media they will be able to distribute it more effectively.

    They should definitely show it.
    How will they distribute it more effectively than youtube? Anyone who's interested can google north korea and find the full range of publicly available knowledge within several hours of research.
    Offline

    16
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Unkempt_One)
    How will they distribute it more effectively than youtube? Anyone who's interested can google north korea and find the full range of publicly available knowledge within several hours of research.
    Because it's going to be buried amongst loads of other stuff. The internet is much more of a free for all than TV. Information overload.

    More than anything else, though, the BBC has an international legitimacy that no video on youtube - or even youtube itself, for that matter - could ever hope to have.
    Offline

    16
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Fullofsurprises)
    It certainly doesn't sound as if LSE management have handled it very well. Maybe they are being partly influenced by the fear of litigation by angry parents - some of the students have apparently had threatening letters from the NK government! It would be interesting to see what those say. :rolleyes:
    I'd expect accusations of being a spy if I went to N Korea - I'm not exactly sure what extra risk the extra companions could have brought, given that they're suspicious of outsiders in general and the group managed to get out anyway. However, expanding on my initial point, you can argue that publicising it in this way has made travelling to N Korea far more dangerous for an LSE student than taking some journalists along would/could have.
    Offline

    16
    ReputationRep:
    Nothing was stopping them going to Hong Kong/Seoul for a week after receiving compensation (for the Korean leg of the trip and new tickets) that Sweeney obviously would have paid when a threat to alert the North Koreans of his plans was made. I therefore don't see what the fuss is all about. It was late notice, but certainly not too late to act on it.

    (Original post by geetar)
    Whatever happened, the BBC should show it. We have hardly any insight into what North Korea is like, and it would be pretty dumb to throw away any info gained on it.
    You do realise that North Korea allow tourists to visit the country (restrictions apply of course) and there wouldn't be much on this episode of panorama that any tourist who has been there didn't or couldn't see. If there is, it wouldn't be that big a deal otherwise the journalist wouldn't have been near it. They don't have labour camps next door to say the Juche Tower.
    Offline

    12
    ReputationRep:
    Don't see how anyone can defend BBC in what was an extremely overt rouge operation. Giving out snippet of information just when it suited them. Hoe fortuitous that the trip was organised by Sweeney's wife.

    Well done to the beeb for possibly ruin future reasearch and trips into NK.
    Offline

    12
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Fullofsurprises)
    It certainly doesn't sound as if LSE management have handled it very well. Maybe they are being partly influenced by the fear of litigation by angry parents - some of the students have apparently had threatening letters from the NK government! It would be interesting to see what those say. :rolleyes:
    But LSE had no involvement in the organisation of the trip just that the students happen to attend there, don't see why thry would feel the need to apologise to parents in any situation.
    Offline

    14
    ReputationRep:
    What was very sneaky is that they did not reveal all information all at once. Handing out little pieces whenever they needed to as an explanation.

    If the students feel they weren't given enough information or were lied to, then clearly more could have been done to secure the safety and well-being of these students
    Offline

    13
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by geetar)
    Because it's going to be buried amongst loads of other stuff. The internet is much more of a free for all than TV. Information overload.

    More than anything else, though, the BBC has an international legitimacy that no video on youtube - or even youtube itself, for that matter - could ever hope to have.
    If you search 'North Korea' on google you get nothing but information related to North Korea. I also fail to see how the BBC has more legitimacy than a similar smaller-scale journalistic operation. They are still essentially a mainstream media organisation and entertaining programming is as much an objective for them as reliable, insightful information.
    Offline

    8
    ReputationRep:
    Trips to North Korea are basically tours of certain parts of the country, with a guide with you all the time. My politics teacher went there, he said it was very strange, there is a apparently a fake train station where NK employ people to walk up and down the escalators constantly, so to tourists it looks like a busy play, pretty amusing!

    On trips to North Korea youre most likely not gonna find out much about the country. You barely see any citizens, my teacher was talking about a main road going through a city which had one bus on it, completely empty, and the driver drove constantly up and down.

    Not to mention you have to bow at every statue and photo of the leaders.
    Offline

    13
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Jordan-James)
    Trips to North Korea are basically tours of certain parts of the country, with a guide with you all the time. My politics teacher went there, he said it was very strange, there is a apparently a fake train station where NK employ people to walk up and down the escalators constantly, so to tourists it looks like a busy play, pretty amusing!

    On trips to North Korea youre most likely not gonna find out much about the country. You barely see any citizens, my teacher was talking about a main road going through a city which had one bus on it, completely empty, and the driver drove constantly up and down.

    Not to mention you have to bow at every statue and photo of the leaders.
    Exactly. It's extremely important that people aren't tricked by the BBC into thinking that this is some kind of groundbreaking journalism.
 
 
 
Reply
Submit reply
TSR Support Team

We have a brilliant team of more than 60 Support Team members looking after discussions on The Student Room, helping to make it a fun, safe and useful place to hang out.

Updated: April 18, 2013
  • See more of what you like on The Student Room

    You can personalise what you see on TSR. Tell us a little about yourself to get started.

  • Poll
    Are unpaid trial work shifts fair?
    Useful resources
  • See more of what you like on The Student Room

    You can personalise what you see on TSR. Tell us a little about yourself to get started.

  • The Student Room, Get Revising and Marked by Teachers are trading names of The Student Room Group Ltd.

    Register Number: 04666380 (England and Wales), VAT No. 806 8067 22 Registered Office: International House, Queens Road, Brighton, BN1 3XE

    Quick reply
    Reputation gems: You get these gems as you gain rep from other members for making good contributions and giving helpful advice.