NUJ asks BBC DG to intervene in Naga Munchetty case
27 September 2019
The general secretary of the NUJ has written to Tony Hall, BBC director general, expressing deep concern over the BBC’s determination that presenter Naga Munchetty had breached the corporation’s editorial guidelines and asked him to intervene and have the decision reversed.
She also said it was totally unacceptable that BBC members who had supported the Breakfast presenter on social media were told to stop tweeting.
In her letter, Michelle Stanistreet said:
“This decision also raises concerns over the BBC’s approach to its journalists’ views and comments on social media, as well as an inconsistency in the policing of its policies. A number of journalists have contacted the NUJ today after they have been instructed not to comment on this issue – or else. This is wholly unacceptable. After the long-overdue work now being done by the BBC to tackle the issues of representation of black and ethnic minority journalists and women in the workplace, pay inequities and the need to break down barriers to their progression, this incident risks setting back that progress and alienating the very employees the BBC urgently needs to rebuild trust with.
“I would strongly urge you to intervene and for this decision and its impact to be urgently reviewed.”
When the news of the BBC’s decision broke, the NUJ put out the following statement from the general secretary:
“All broadcasters, and in particular the BBC a public service broadcaster, should call out racism. It is not a matter of opinion – it is wrong. Naga Munchetty responded as a woman of colour to Donald Trump’s tweet that women Democrat politicians, all US citizens, should ‘go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came’. Of course, she was right to say she was furious with the President’s language and what it meant. The BBC has got it very wrong – BBC journalists should not be prohibited from commenting on evidently racist language, especially at a time when racist rhetoric is having a real impact on people’s lives.”
Michelle Stanistreet has an already-scheduled meeting with Tony Hall next week with the other general secretaries of the Federation of Entertainment Unions and will ensure the issue in on the agenda.
Clive Lewis MP has sponsored an early day motion calling on the BBC to urgently reverse the verdict and defend the right of all journalists and broadcasters to reject blatant racism wherever it is expressed.