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Jul 18 2016

BBC upholds our complaint against Steve Wright in the Afternoon’s Lynne McTaggart interview

WDDTY logoThe BBC’s Editorial Complaints Unit has upheld our complaint about BBC Radio 2’s Steve Wright in the Afternoon.

In an interview broadcast last December, Steve Wright and Janey Lee Grace chatted to Lynne McTaggart, editor of the magazine What Doctors Don’t Tell You.

It was not made clear at any point during the programme that the magazine is controversial and has been condemned by leading health experts. McTaggart was not challenged when she made misleading and inaccurate claims, for example stating that conventional medicine can only treat symptoms and that alternative medicine is often better for chronic illness.

 The finding was published today on the BBC website:

 

Steve Wright in the Afternoon, Radio 2, 3 December 2015

Complaint
The programme included an interview with the editor of the monthly magazine “What Doctors Don’t Tell You”. A representative of Good Thinking Society complained that it was not made clear that the interviewee represented a particular viewpoint on the efficacy conventional medicine, and had been allowed to make unchallenged claims in support of that viewpoint.

Outcome
The ECU agreed that the interview did not make clear that the magazine is attended by a degree of controversy, and that Ms McTaggart’s views weren’t challenged in an appropriate way. As a result, listeners might well have formed an impression of the relative efficacy of orthodox medicine and alternative therapies which was less than accurate or balanced.
Upheld

Further action
The Editor of Steve Wright in the Afternoon has reviewed the structure of interviews in the programme in the light of this case.  In future, additional research will be carried out on potential interviewees.  If the research identifies possible topics of discussion which lie outside the programme’s usual focus on entertainment and artistic endeavour, the programme-makers will consider inviting one of the programme’s regular contributors who has relevant expertise to join the on-air conversation.

 

We think it is important to ask why a guest was asked to appear on an entertainment show, when she was going to talk about health, and talk about the topic in a highly controversial way. Moreover, we are not convinced that attempting to balance unscientific ideas with a regular contributor would lead to good journalism, as this may well leave the audience confused. Our advice is that Steve Wright in the Afternoon continues to focus on entertainment and avoids pseudoscience.

 

References

  1. Magazine attacked by health experts over cancer ‘cure’ claims Tom Whipple and Hannah Devlin, The Times, 02/11/13
  2. Steve Wright in the Afternoon, Radio 2, 3 December 2015: Finding by the Editorial Complaints Unit BBC Complaints,18/07/16