Lewis attack reopens debate on 'good news': Newsreader targets foreign affairs editor

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The Independent Online
MARTYN LEWIS, the BBC television newsreader, reopened the debate about the lack of 'good news' in the media with a veiled attack on the corporation's respected foreign affairs editor, John Simpson.

In a lecture at the Royal Society of Arts, Mr Lewis, 48, argued that in putting together a TV news bulletin, positive stories - achievements, successes and triumphs - should be weighed on the same scales as negative stories. 'The balancing factor should not be the degree of violence, death, conflict, failure or disaster . . . but should be based on the extent to which those stories shape or change the world in which we live.'

He accused his detractors of sharpening their knives to distort rather than dissect his arguments. Mr Lewis's initial campaign last April attracted criticism from fellow TV journalists.

Mr Simpson told the Royal Television Society in September that Mr Lewis's assessment that journalists were locked into a view of Africa as a famine, war and Aids-ridden continent was wrong. Mr Simpson added that a colleague would soon report 'on the extraordinarily successful campaign by the Uganda government to buy up hundreds of weapons in private hands'.

Last night Mr Lewis replied: 'Well . . . I'm sure we're still hoping to cover that story but in the meantime BBC's foreign affairs unit has been busy covering the appalling massacre in Burundi and the war in Angola . . . Would that that reporting power could be turned on the positive stories as well.'