The College of Journalism website - CoJo online, in the office at least - was launched at midnight on Tuesday.
An odd launch in some respects because, initially anyway, it won't be visible outside the BBC ... though we hope its effects will be. The aim is to add to every BBC journalist's skills, learning and judgement and through that improve the service of BBC journalism to its paymasters, the licence fee payers.
The college and website came about as a direct result of the Gilligan affair, the Hutton inquiry and the report of a senior BBC News executive, Ron Neil ... who, as it happens, recommended a residential college to reinforce BBC journalists' learning. Sadly, a cloistered, towered, Gothic pile somewhere deep in the countryside was not to be. They don't come cheap and the licence fee is, after all, the licence fee. So, a website in cyberspace and a college located above an Italian deli in W12 is what it is. There is no wisteria.
But there is learning in ethics, values, law, writing, broadcast and production skills - films, tutors, scenarios and hypotheticals, articles, podcasts and links. Five hundred pages at the moment and forty-plus films. And it will grow - partly because one of the other main functions of the college and its website is to generate intelligent critique and discussion about BBC journalism and editorial decisions. Did we get it right over the Ipswich murders? Saddam's execution? Pictures of Kate Middleton?
One of the questions that's inevitably asked is - why is it only for BBC journalists? Why can't viewers and listeners see for themselves? Well, as the UK Press Gazette reported it's very likely that it will be an external site before very long - or more probably, parts of it will be.
And when it is, perhaps it'll scotch some of the dafter ideas about the college - like those in the Times... an excellent case study, incidentally, in journalistic tosh with its predictable and misleading 'back to school' image and the - ho, ho, ho - amusing picture of an inky-fingered J Paxman behind a desk (Is this the Beano?)
Our initial focus is - and has to be - on the skills and learning of BBC journalists. It's what all major employers do - offer their staff the best possible learning in their trade. But the argument that, in time, we should share with our paymasters the thinking and learning behind our decision-making is a powerful one. As is the argument that the BBC has a responsibility to play some role in raising and maintaining journalistic standards in the UK - standards which, for the written press at least, mean five out of six people don't trust what they read in the papers.
Before that can happen, though, there is an array of technical and practical hurdles to be overcome. For example, to be truly useful to BBC journalists, the site has to link extensively to internal BBC web pages - an external site would have to have all these links removed. There are also tricky questions about the BBC's place in the journalists' learning market; would a licence fee-funded learning site be fair competition? And so on.
My hunch is that we'll come up with answers to these questions before the end of the year and some part or parts of the site will be made public. Before then, though, I hope our audiences will already have noticed the value of the college and website.