The BBC's reporting of the recent violence in Sri Lanka has been exemplary - despite the fact that reporters aren't allowed into the disputed region, it has maintained decent and constant coverage of the conflict, reflecting both sides of the divide. It's the kind of thing Auntie used to call 'impartiality' before that lantern-jawed prick in charge of them decided that 'impartiality' meant 'cravenly chucking your journalistic integrity into the skip because you're shitting yourself about a few angry letters from people who hate you anyway and will always hate you, and will condemn you as having a liberal-left bias even if you tattoo Ronald Reagan onto your face'.
Anyway, I mention this because the Red Cross says there is a real danger of a humanitarian crisis unfolding in the region. It could turn into a grave problem for those people caught up in the crossfire between the Tamil Tigers and Government forces. And it's just the sort of thing where overseas aid, delivered by NGOs under trying circumstances, could make a real difference and save lives.
Unfortunately the Mark Thompson doctrine will clearly dictate that the BBC should not show any appeal because it might upset the Sri Lankan Government. A shame, because this conflict and the resulting humanitarian disaster has received far less publicity than that which has taken place in Israel and Gaza (ironically despite such sterling journalistic efforts from the BBC). It's just the sort of instance where TV appeals could raise awareness. But if Thompson is going to be consistent, he will veto any such instances out of hand, for fear of possibly compromising the BBC's impartiality.
But then again, has the DG been invited over for a chummy meeting in Colombo to discuss matters with the Sri Lankan authorities, not bothering to have similar meetings with the Tamil separatists? Are there dozens of stridently pro-Sri Lanka columnists in the national press, including a bizarre old bat who claims everything in the world ever is a conspiracy against Sri Lanka and yet still gets treated as if she's a voice of something even approaching reason?
So maybe it's not quite the same thing.