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BBC under fire for clandestine documentary

中国日报网 2013-04-16 11:20

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A leading British university criticized the BBC on Sunday for arranging an academic trip to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to make an undercover documentary, saying the network had put students who were unaware of the plans in danger.

The London School of Economics said three BBC journalists - including respected reporter John Sweeney - joined a student society trip at the end of March, posing as tourists to make a film about the DPRK.

The university said the students had been told "a journalist" would accompany them, but it had not been made clear the BBC's aim was to use the visit to record an undercover film for Panorama, a current-affairs program.

Alex Peters-Day, general secretary of the LSE's student union, told Sky News the students were told of the BBC's intentions to make an undercover film only at a very late stage, with one saying she was informed only when they were on the plane to the DPRK.

She said the BBC had used the students as "human shields".

The university said Sweeney, who graduated from the LSE in 1980, had posed as a history PhD student at the university to gain entry to the country even though he currently has no connection with the institution.

The Panorama documentary on the DPRK was scheduled to air on Monday night.

The BBC has thus far refused the university's plea to keep it off the air to protect the students from possible retribution if their identities are revealed on the show. The broadcaster said three students who have asked to be removed from the show will have their images blurred so they cannot be identified.

The BBC's Sweeney said on Sunday it was "entirely wrong" for the university to try to prevent the broadcast. He said all of the students had been told about the potential risk and had agreed to allow the journalists to join the trip, adding that all were more than 18 years old and capable of making their own decisions.

A BBC story about the trip that the network filed online on Sunday said Sweeney and a two-person crew that included his wife spent "eight days undercover" in the DPRK.

The LSE's Peters-Day said on Sunday that the students were lied to and that at least one of the students on the trip was not told in advance of the journalists' participation.

Questions:

1. Which respected reporter joined the student society trip?

2. What is the name of the current affairs program?

3. How will the BBC protect the students’ identities?

Answers:

1. John Sweeney.

2. Panorama.

3. By blurring their images.

(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

About the broadcaster:

Emily Cheng is an editor at China Daily. She was born in Sydney, Australia and graduated from the University of Sydney with a degree in Media, English Literature and Politics. She has worked in the media industry since starting university and this is the third time she has settled abroad - she interned with a magazine in Hong Kong 2007 and studied at the University of Leeds in 2009.

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