The BBC has defended its report from Royal London Hospital on the impact of coronavirus on staff and patients after viewers complained it was insensitive and scaremongering.
On Monday, BBC News at Six and BBC News at 10 aired a harrowing package from journalist Clive Myrie which included an interview with Martin Freeborn, a man whose wife had died from Covid-19 just half an hour before going on camera.
The corporation revealed it has been hit with some backlash over the segment, but has fiercely hit back at critics and argued the importance of reflecting the gravity of the pandemic and the current state of the NHS.
‘Our role as an impartial news broadcaster is to reflect the reality of any current situation,’ a spokesperson said.
‘Sometimes this means reporting on upsetting stories and including upsetting images. In this case, our newsreader gave a warning that there were some distressing images at the beginning of the report.’
They continued: ‘We consider it is very important to give those working within the NHS a voice and to accurately reflect the current state of the health service, and we felt that was achieved here.
‘Martin Freeborn wanted to speak to us after his wife had died to tell us what had happened and to convey the seriousness of the situation. Our team gave him the utmost care and respect, and we greatly appreciate his contribution to the report.’
The spokesperson concluded: ‘We don’t consider the report was insensitive or scaremongering, but we do appreciate that some people may have found it difficult to watch.’
The BBC encouraged viewers who had been affected by the subject matter to visit their Action Lines website which provides support.
Despite the complaints, many viewers praised the BBC on social media for its deeply moving and powerful report.
‘Have just watched this and I want to say thanks for a wonderful piece,’ wrote one.
‘The reflection on the impact of the virus on all staff including morticians etc. was very thought-provoking. Well done all.’