College of Journalism launches four more language websites

editor of the BBC Academy's language websites

Traditional Chinese

The BBC College of Journalism is launching four new language sites: Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Hausa and Urdu.

They focus on both the impartiality and accuracy of the broadcast language as well as the BBC’s journalistic values.

With presenters, producers and reporters who work in the BBC’s language sections broadcasting in their own language, the College of Journalism websites are becoming a unique depository for the entire knowledge of departments supporting BBC journalists both in London and abroad.

These free websites also give journalists around the world the opportunity to see the BBC in-house style guide.


Simplified Chinese

Creating two interconnected Chinese language websites was a challenge. We had to create a similar user experience to BBC News where the two Chinese sites have a button on the right-hand side of each web page that switches between Simplified, the written form of the language used in mainland China, and Traditional, the written form used mainly outside China.

Our Simplified and Traditional Chinese sites both have an entire section on language: key grammatical learning points, the development and expansion of language, new terminologies, taboo wording, the golden rules of newsroom translation, online language and, above all, mastering impartial language.

In the BBC values section, the Chinese sites are publishing, among other content, the BBC’s first editorial guidelines on how journalists should use Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter which has more than 250 million users worldwide.



The Urdu language website offers in-depth articles and videos on multimedia skills, BBC values and the language.

The latter section highlights issues such as how to deal with taboo words like ‘rape’. Most of the Pakistani media avoid using it, usually referring to rape victims as people whose ‘reputation has been destroyed’. Yet the BBC Urdu service strongly argues that the act of rape should be called rape and nothing else.

The Urdu service is also offering advice on how to write for television - very useful as it’s in the process of launching a TV broadcast partnership for Pakistan later this year.



The College of Journalism’s new Hausa site is publishing a full guide on the Hausa typography and grammar.

While we were working on the site, we realised that to show the correct spelling we needed the three hooked letters which are part of the Hausa alphabet. Without them, the meaning of similarly spelt words can be very different. We spoke to the Hausa department and realised it had been longing for the correct typeface for some time: to distinguish the ordinary letters from the hooked ones it had been using an apostrophe after each ‘hooked’ letter. We simply could not create a website where we had articles about spelling but not the correct typeface, so we started looking for the letters and when we found them we of course shared our knowledge with the Hausa service. 

The Hausa site also has content on the BBC’s guidelines on the use of social media, as well as the main editorial values such as impartiality, independence, accuracy and accountability.

The launch of our latest four language websites brings the number of relaunched sites to seven; the Arabic, Persian and Russian sites were launched in the summer.

We plan to launch new sites for Burmese, Pashto, Swahili and Vietnamese next summer.