BBC News, Nelson Mandela’s death and public service media

December 10, 2013

The BBC has received more than a thousand complaints regarding their coverage of Nelson Mandela’s death, which overshadowed coverage of severe weather across the UK.

News of Mandela’s death, which has dominated international media, was broken by the BBC during a repeat of “Mrs Brown’s Boys”, which reportedly accounted for some of the 1,350 complaints the corporation received.

Yet more pressing criticisms concerned the fact that the coverage overshadowed news of the UK’s east coast’s “worst storm surge in 60 years,” according to the BBC itself.

BBC News director James Harding has since defended the decision, stating that Nelson was “the most important statesman of the last 100 years,” and that, in addition to the BBC’s earlier coverage of the storm, “had we seen real breaking news on the weather which meant we had to inform people immediately, we would have done so.”

Somewhat contrary to the role of news organisations, however, he added that there were plenty of other stations covering the weather, according to The Telegraph.

The case demonstrate the difficulty in juggling coverage of a hugely important event, in this case the death of Mandela, and an issue that might only affect a smaller audience but remains more pressing to their concerns.

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