BBC boss claims impartial news is 'increasingly becoming an affront' to audiences who feel balanced coverage is 'an attack on their values'

A BBC boss has claimed impartial news that tells all sides of a story is 'increasingly becoming an affront' to audiences.

Deborah Turness, chief executive of news and current affairs, says those who spend time in an 'echo chamber' - where they only hear and read views that align with their own beliefs - feel balanced coverage is 'an attack on their values'.

Ms Turness, who joined the Corporation in September 2022, added that she is deeply concerned about this issue. Speaking at the Sir Harry Evans Investigative Journalism Summit in London, she said: 'What worries me most is that what we're seeing  - and we're seeing it through Israel and Gaza - is that we are at a stage now where subscription culture meets algorithm.

'You've got so many people spending so much of their time-consuming news which - because of algorithms or subscriptions they've chosen – is channelling [their] echo chamber. It's their point of view.

'But when they actually do come up for air and meet impartial news, they feel that it is an attack on their values. And that's what we've got to really worry about.'

Deborah Turness (pictured), chief executive of news and current affairs, says those who spend time in an 'echo chamber' - where they only hear and read views that align with their own beliefs - feel balanced coverage is 'an attack on their values'

Deborah Turness (pictured), chief executive of news and current affairs, says those who spend time in an 'echo chamber' - where they only hear and read views that align with their own beliefs - feel balanced coverage is 'an attack on their values'

In March, the Corporation's director-general Tim Davie told MPs that the BBC had done a 'good job' in providing impartial coverage amid 'enormous pressure'

In March, the Corporation's director-general Tim Davie told MPs that the BBC had done a 'good job' in providing impartial coverage amid 'enormous pressure'

A journalist in Gaza in May 2021. Speaking at the Sir Harry Evans Investigative Journalism Summit, Ms Tuness said: 'What worries me most is that what we're seeing - and we're seeing it through Israel and Gaza - is that we are at a stage now where subscription culture meets algorithm' (stock image)

A journalist in Gaza in May 2021. Speaking at the Sir Harry Evans Investigative Journalism Summit, Ms Tuness said: 'What worries me most is that what we're seeing - and we're seeing it through Israel and Gaza - is that we are at a stage now where subscription culture meets algorithm' (stock image)

She said journalists must 'keep fighting' to show viewers 'every version of what's happening' and present a 'broad spectrum of facts' so that they can 'make up their own minds'.

Ms Turness, a former ITN chief executive, added: 'But that is increasingly becoming an affront to audiences and that is the thing that actually most concerns me.'

During her talk, she said she had never worked in such a 'polarised environment'.

She admitted, talking about coverage of the conflict between Israel and Gaza, that the BBC does 'get it wrong sometimes' but the point was to 'own it' and 'correct it'.

She added: 'If there's something systemic, then deal with it.'

Ms Turness has made enhancing viewer trust one of her main priorities, launching the BBC Verify unit, a fact-checking department that works across its news output.

She said the Corporation was responding to the audience's desire for the BBC to 'share more of your workings' on how it was producing stories.

Among the other news figures appearing at the summit were the BBC's international editor Jeremy Bowen, former Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis and CNN's chief international anchor Christiane Amanpour.

Ms Turness has made enhancing viewer trust one of her main priorities, launching the BBC Verify unit, a fact-checking department that works across its news output

Ms Turness has made enhancing viewer trust one of her main priorities, launching the BBC Verify unit, a fact-checking department that works across its news output

In March, the Corporation's director-general Tim Davie told MPs that the BBC had done a 'good job' in providing impartial coverage amid 'enormous pressure'.

Mr Davie said the 'polarisation in society is profound' and that it was 'very demanding' for the BBC to 'steer the course' among the 'noise' and the 'storms of social media'.

The BBC has sparked complaints over its coverage of the conflict between Israel and Gaza, notably on its refusal to refer to Hamas fighters as 'terrorists'.

It has also found itself under fire over the way it has dealt with other controversial issues such as trans rights.

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