Another day, another discussion item on BBC Breakfast that failed to deliver what the introduction promised and largely missed a very important point.
The item under discussion this time was cyberbullying.
The BBC decided to base the discussion around the furore that was generated by The Guardian’s ill-advised decision to carry a somewhat superficial travel blog by the 19-year-old son of one of its own regular contributors.
Although a deal of the criticism levelled at Max Gogarty, the hapless gap year wanderer, and his father Paul was personal, much of the ire was reserved for The Guardian’s commissioning editors who decided the teenager’s blog was worthy of a place on a national newspaper’s website.
As many have suggested, Max simply got in the way of some justified anger and frustration at the newspaper’s decision-making process and the apparent belief that readers will accept just about anything.
Hardly a case of cyberbullying as I understand the term. Yet the Breakfast presenters persevered.
Over on the BBC’s website, however, is another story on cyberbullying which in so many respects is a million miles from the fuss surrounding Max’s travel blog.
This is an altogether more alarming case and surely much closer to the definition of cyberbullying. It involves two former friends and a vindictive bullying campaign launched on the Bebo social networking site that ended with one teenager attempting suicide and another given a 12-month referral order and told to pay his victim £250.
Quite how the BBC can hit so wide of the mark on Breakfast, but take a more considered approach on its website suggests there is not much joined up thinking going on behind the scenes. The muddled view probably isn’t explained by the fact that Paul Gogarty, as well as writing for The Guardian from time to time, is also a regular on the BBC.
The issue of cyberbullying is serious and various charities have made concerted efforts in recent times to highlight the growing threat it poses. It is an issue that clearly needs to be covered in a considered way that raises awareness and offers resources and hope for those on the receiving end.
Cyberbullying does not just impact on youngsters, anyone of any age can be a victim. As more of our lives are lived on-line and virtually, it is also likely to become more of a problem.
It is unfortunate that BBC Breakfast chose to highlight the right issue with the wrong story.