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Why blogs matter to the BBC

Giles Wilson Giles Wilson | 15:50 UK time, Monday, 29 December 2008

If you read Boxing Day warnings given in the Daily Mail by media commentator Stephen Glover, you might believe that the blogs written by senior BBC reporters such as Robert Peston, Nick Robinson and Justin Webb were sounding the death knell of journalistic integrity at the BBC. Mr Glover's thesis was that blogs "corrupt the distinction between news and views which is supposed to be sacrosanct at the BBC", and he said that by allowing "the proliferation of blogs", BBC managers were "disregarding the Corporation's duty to be impartial".

A graphic of the BBC News websiteThere are two things which need to be said in response to these concerns. The first is that Mr Glover is quite right to point out the importance to the BBC of the distinction between news and comment, the value that our audiences attach to it, and the dangers for reporters who "let their hair down" (Mr Glover's phrase) and allow their normal standards to drop, simply because they are writing in a blog. We at the BBC are acutely aware of these points.

But the second thing which needs saying is to reject the implication of his article that for a reporter to write a blog necessarily means them becoming purveyors of opinion and comment. He claims it is "impossible to write a half-readable blog without peppering it with opinions". That's just not true. We look to our expert editors such as Nick and Robert to tell us what has happened, to explain why it is or isn't important, what it means, and even what might be the effect. As to what their personal opinions about the news are, well, that's just not the business we're in.

Mr Glover also says "hard-pressed journalists are not using their time well if they spend hours penning blogs". I'm afraid the millions of people who look at our blogs will, like me, disagree with him. Research published by the BBC Trust in May this year, well before Robert's blog became such a useful companion to the credit crunch and recession, indicated that the BBC's blogs are "already highly appreciated by audiences" - and that even those who do not use them recognise their value.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    "were sounding the death knell of journalistic integrity at the BBC. "

    That happened a long time ago. We have seen it already with the likes of Jeremy Bowen, Orla Guerin and Fayad Abu Shamala openly being anti-Israel and the likes of Matt Frei and Justin Webb openly being pro-Obama The Chosen One

  • Comment number 2.

    The trouble with commentators like Mr Glover is that their own perspective is so biased to the right, that everything they disagree with seems to them to be left wing. In my experience people who think of themselves as "non political" are almost invariably Tory voters.

    Personally I find BBC commentators tend to appear to be right wing. But then my own views are left wing, so probably the BBC gets it about right.

    In any case the great thing about a blog is that the readers can respond. So you end up with a healthy cross-section of public opinion. Something which is notably lacking in Mr Glover's newspaper.

  • Comment number 3.

    Nobody is forced to read the Daily Mail or to read the BBC blogs. People make their own choices.
    Maybe Stephen Glover only wants his viewpoint to be read.
    It may not be worthwhile, but at least the BBC blogs allow the public to get their views over to the masses. Newspapers have a smaller audience.

  • Comment number 4.

    I am sorry Mr Wilson but you are wrong. A writer can only objectively report on fact, but immediately it descends into "what it may mean to us" it becomes opinion. I am not a supporter of Mr Glover's views of these blogs but I do not think you can defend them on the lines you suggest.

    Many of your blogs are subjectively selected and written - defending the Delhi airport report for example - whilst you choose to ignore other, perhaps more important, subjects.

    The whole theme of news delivery by the BBC should be in sticking to reporting fact and yet your presenters are guilty of introducing spin at every opportunity. Perhaps you should listen to more output in a critical manner to understand just why there are so many people who do not like the way the BBC has allowed its standards to slip.

    I do not like to see the BBC constantly wielding a defensive bat at anything they think resembles criticism and instead openly apologise for their shortcomings and show an improvement. A feature of a defensive bat is that it suggests the ball just bowled was a very fine delivery indeed.

  • Comment number 5.

    Giles:
    I enjoy the reading and comments of the BBC staffers [editors and producers; others] about the stories that the BBC is covering on a daily [weekly or updates]....

    I think that the BBC Blogs, are very informative source for people who do not have the time to read or watch the news; and want to have additional information....

    Thanks again for the excellent service that the BBC has provided, thru its many platforms....

    ~Dennis Junior~

  • Comment number 6.

    The values that the BBC and its platforms report about on a daily basis; they also reflect it on the BBC Blogs....

    ~Dennis Junior~

  • Comment number 7.

    Although Greg Wilson's reaction to Stephen Glover's comments is somewhat predictable (given his job title), it is still surprisingly superficial. Glover has valid points which he dismisses much too summarily. I am a regular reader of the Peston, Mardell and Webb blogs and certainly Peston laces his texts richly with his personal opinions and predictions (the other two much less so). It is very difficult to believe that Wilson or anyone else exercises normal editorial controls over Peston's blog articles. And this is precisely the point: by making these blogs available on the pages of the official BBC website, they appear side by side with 'normal' news which, may we hope and assume, has been carefully vetted (two independent sources, etc; Journalism - Ch. One) before being released. This must create confusion for the BBC's readers. Maybe your blogs should come with a validity warning or the qualification "Gossip, here". But it is probably better for the BBC to do away with them altogether.

  • Comment number 8.

    I hope in 2009 that the BBC find a backbone and tells the Daily Wail to get stuffed.

    I am sick of them "capturing" the BBC and the DG jumping to their tune.

  • Comment number 9.

    Blogging is a bit like owning a newspaper or news channel.

    There is nothing wrong with superficial spin when challenging authority to keep our personal freedom and creative expression.

  • Comment number 10.

    If people can't tell the difference between a news story and a reporter's personal blog, then any confusion is down to their own stupidity.

    But at the same time, I have to agree with Briantist @ 8 ... the BBC's impartiality *has* been degraded because the aftermath of Kelley has had such a chilling effect on reporters and editors you might as well move Broadcasting House to what's left of the North Pole.

    If reporters *were* forced to resort to having to publish information on their own blog areas that the GD would veto as being "news" because he's too busy trying to appease the Government, then more power to them!

    As for opinions, here's mine: Blogs good, Stephen Glover a whiner who's annoyed the public might actually get to interact some, which puts him out of a job as a "commentator".

  • Comment number 11.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 12.

    Sounds like a kettle/pot/black interface to me. Maybe The Mail is jealous that BBC Blogs get more attention than Mail ones?

    `From news and politics to sport, showbiz and fashion, some of the most thought provoking journalists on the web bring you their views on the world at large.`
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/blogs/index.html

    I don't notice much impartiality in the Mail's political blogs either.

  • Comment number 13.

    I'm a regular reader of Peston & Robinson's blogs. I find Robert's explanations of the intricacies of the economy interesting and thought-provoking.

    The beauty of blogs is that the comments can contribute just as much as the original post. On the few suspect or dodgy blog articles I've seen, people are quite happy to jump up and down and put across points that show the original post to be lacking in facts or objective judgement.

    The only comment I can make is that maybe these blogs should be proof-read before they are posted, so that there is some form of monitoring in place for their continued use.

    I find it somewhat amusing that the Mail is jumping up and down about impartiality. Whilst trying to be neutral is an idealistic aim that the BBC might not always get right, the Mail never bother trying as it would be in conflict with their alarmist attitude.

    You don't see the BBC printing retractions or being taken to court on the same level that the Mail or Express are...

    In short, I wouldn't exactly be defending the BBC blogs against a rag that lacks credibility or any form of integrity.

  • Comment number 14.

    The Daily Mail's remit is not to be impartial and politically neutral; however, that is the remit of the BBC. Whenever the BBC goes away from reporting a fact and adds any opinion - whether in a blog or news articles - then it is failing in its remit.

    If the BBC bloggers wish to blog in their own time when not on licence fee money (e.g. at 5.30pm), then I can support that. An exception may well be in the Sports Blogs, where opinion is much desired. On technology blogs, the BBC has a habit of promoting Apple products too much - or Twitter, etc.

    The way around the problem would be to use the Political blogs as a more democratic forum. All arguments must be at least mentioned, and entries should end with (or similar):

    This article is the opinion of NAME, and does not reflect the official view of the BBC.

  • Comment number 15.

    but immediately it descends into "what it may mean to us" it becomes opinion

    -----------


    errr, no.

    It's called analysis. As long as all sides of an argument are covered (and to be fair I often find that they are on this site) then it is fine.

    Besides which I believe that there IS room for opinion on the BBC website anyway. The only issue might be seperating that from fact, but if you take the position that everything in a blog "could" be opinionated in some fashion then you are pretty safe.

  • Comment number 16.

    Given the choice between reading the Daily Mail and the likes of Robert Peston, Nick Robinson and Justin Webb ... sorry, scratch that. That isn't a choice.

  • Comment number 17.

    I've frequently moaned and even complained about BBC journalists colouring news with their own opinion. The news website can be particularly weak on this issue, compared with the TV news which has improved.

    But the blogs are different.

    If the blog is clearly labelled as written by a journalist as their own personal point of view, and the news items are clearly seperate, then I think the blogs are perfectly legitimate.



  • Comment number 18.

    There are very few of us who believe that the BBC provides an unbiased view in any case. More and more the BBC seems to be a vessel for the Labour party opting, as it does, to emphasise one "story" over another and giving more time to airing the views of Labour over say, the Conservatives.

  • Comment number 19.

    The problem is the age old problem of "what is truth?", and the fact that the Daily Mail wants to be the self-appointer arbiter of such.

    If the BBC blogs published something which was factually incorrect then I am sure the BBC would reprimand the journalist involved.

    However, you can still "stick to the facts" AND be bias - you simply neglect any facts not supportive of your opinion. This is common place in tabloid journalism, and this is where blogs have a unique advantage.

    The BBC blogs are not a simple one-way dialog. The readers can add their own comments and raise additional information to counter something they believe unrepresentative. Often I learn more from the comments in blogs than I do from the original article. (Which I can then go and research further on the Internet.) Furthermore, but BBC blogs allow longer comments than HYS and the moderators are far less ... errr ... "selective" about what they allow through.

    Therefore, even if a blog were biased and opinionated, the readers get a chance to counter that with their own responses. If you read the whole of the blog with comments, then the odds are you will get a balanced picture.

    This is hopefully the future of news in the Internet age. News where the people can actually get involved rather than be fed the pre-selected facts that media oligarchs approve.

    So keep up the blogging, and keep the moderating to a minimum (and I'll go pay my license fee!).

  • Comment number 20.

    Were I in Mr Wilson's shoes I would not have responded to the Mail's successful attempt to 'get a mention'.

    What concerns me more, is the cult of the 'personality' complex gripping BBC hacks and liberally exercised on a personal blog.

    "Here we come awossying.."

  • Comment number 21.

    The blogs are useful. As it forms a commentary there will inevitably be some sort of bias which in itself is not harmful if the reader recognises it as such and is based on fact. Where it it needs to be stamped out is when it recurs and is based on innuendo - it is then a short leap to propanda.

    On another point whilst some bloggers are are of the raving loony tendency and metaphorically are foaming at the mouth types, many are not. These are well informed, erudite, often amusing and above very informative. There has been more than one occasion where Robert Peston or Nick Robinson (to their credit), have added to their original blog a factual correction or addendum as a clarification.

    I am not ecstatic about the BBC's political coverage, but I suspect that agreement on that issue is probably Utopian. One area that the BBC needs to pull up its socks is coverage over Afghanistan and Iraq. C4 News hosted by the excellent Jon Snow, and the US media are leading the packby a distance.

    In particular no mention of the private Military Companies that run all the retention/interrogation camps, are NOT just doing Body Guard duties. They are active participants in raids on the front line and lately in Pakistan. Currently in Iraq their personnel outnumber the whole of the Coalition Forces (even during the surge), and the industry generates 100 BILLION DOLLARS annually! Most PMC's employ ex Green Berets, SEALS, US Marines etc i.e. la creme de la creme!

    The press do have a role here as the PMC's are not subject to Parliamentary or Congressional oversight. The MOD will not like it, so BBC a bit more investigative reporting please.

  • Comment number 22.

    What's this if it's not bias?

    "The first thing to say about Nat Rothschild, whom I've met a couple of times, is that he is a tenacious, steely individual - who does not make allegations lightly"

    Peston - 21 Oct 2008 09:57

    not only is the business editor giving his personal opinion, it's on a non-business story AND he's implying Osborne is a liar (which he might or might not be, but that should not be suggested by the 'impartial' BBC). More comical is that peston claims to have met rothschild 'a couple of times' yet knows him well enough to suggest that he wouldnt make allegations lightly.

  • Comment number 23.

    #15

    Analysis in the sense you use it is just a pseudonym for opinion. No one has the expertise necessary to have a grasp of all the arguments and so they are by inference a relatively narrow perception of what the author believes are most important.

    A good example is the Northern Rock fiasco where the BBC seemed to believe they may have influenced their audience into panic withdrawal. That means the BBC was not reporting fact or even analysis, since had everyone tried to withdraw their money NR would have collapsed.

    Another example was the "invasion" of Georgia as compared to the "war on terror" in Iraq. Neither were accurate nor fact.

  • Comment number 24.

    I just wonder how the BBC can justify it countless affirmations of Obama both before and after the conclusion of the election. If political analysis was present then it certainly didn't reflect that perhaps the Republicans believed this was an election they did not want to win.

    I have no problem reading personal opinion of BBC employees expressed in the same way that I express mine and who knows how many of the blogs posted are by BBC personnel in their own time? But I do object to BBC employees trying to justify their existence by appearing to openly compete with commercial media outlets. The BBC is not in competition with newspapers; it is supposed to be completely neutral and to concentrate on delivering fact. If it wishes to produce analysis then it has a duty to ensure that its analysis follows the same neutral interface. I can think of no end of subjects where that condition has not been met.

    The Daily Mail believes that the BBC is biased, and there are many people who would agree with that who do not read the Daily Mail. It is up to the BBC to reflect on why people believe it to be biased.

  • Comment number 25.

    testing - why can I not post my comment?

  • Comment number 26.

    Your comment contains some HTML that has been mistyped.

    Data at the root level is invalid on line 1

    To the moderator - what does this mean and how to I correct it?

  • Comment number 27.

    Looking at the comments above it is refreshing to see that both the left and the right think that the BBC is biased to the other side. If anyone needs further affirmation of the BBC's neutrality, then this is it.

    I don't think that comments from someone working for a rag which regularly confuses opinion and fiction with fact is in a position to commentate on anybody else's bias - perceived or otherwise.

    Obviously this is my opinion, and I do know the difference between opinion and fact.

    Then there is this Truth that everyone is banging on about. A friend of mine once said, and it is probably not original, that there is no such thing as 'truth', there are only facts. Everything else is distortion by the agenda of those presenting them.

    The BBC may not be perfect - but at least it attempts neutrality - unlike the rest of us.

  • Comment number 28.

    The Daily Mail getting on its high horse about "journalistic integrity"? How splendid! That's the best laugh I've had for a long time.

    I greatly enjoy the BBC's blogs. Keep up the good work! However, much as I enjoy the blogs, I do find it a little frustrating that your correspondents very rarely respond to any of the points that we humble blog users make. Granted, most of the points we make are drivel and don't deserve a response, but some are intelligent and worthy yet very seldom get the response they deserve.

    Perhaps you could make it your new year's resolution to make your blogs a bit more interactive.

  • Comment number 29.

    It really is a bit rich of any journalist from the Daily Mail - of all newspapers - to say that anything the BBC does sounds the death knell of journalistic integrity.

    The Daily Mail must be about the least objective and most opinionated of any national paper in this country.

  • Comment number 30.

    Circulation of newspapers is falling off a cliff due to their biased reporting.

    I stopped buying them a while ago for pandering to their advertising clients and giving a distorted view and their version of the truth.

    Reading blogs is far more interesting and some of the comments are quite visionary and entertaining.

    There is always a good cross section of opinion from the public which never seems to tie in with what newspapers want us to believe.

    If you don't agree with what Nick or Robert are saying you can damn well tell them so.

    Even if they don't read it you feel all the better for it.

    Sour grapes from the Daily Mail I think.

    Perhaps they're worried about their advertising revenue for 2009. BBC blogs won't make much difference to that.


  • Comment number 31.

    A large part of the reason this is being discussed is that Blogs (Web-Logs) don`t easily fit into existing journalistic catagories e.g. News report, opinion piece, editorial etc.
    As of last year Technorati was cataloguing more than 112 million blogs worldwide; I doubt you`ll get much agreement as to what a blog should (or shouldn`t) do or be, even from those that produce them.
    http://www.technorati.com/

    Each BBC blog has the author`s name at the top, if they have an opinion I don`t mind them expressing it, if I disagree then I`ll post it in a comment. I actually find some of the strongest disagreements are between those that post comments, they do allow a forum for `us`, the reader, to express our views and develop arguments. I suspect for many that`s the main attraction.
    The main attraction of a blog such as Kemode Uncut (on movies) is that Kemode IS opinionated. I may not agree, but he is thought provoking - and entertaining.

    #26 `Your comment contains some HTML that has been mistyped. Data at the root level is invalid on line 1`

    As far as I can work out it`s to do with incompatibility between different versions of XHTML/XML and the compiler that interprets them for placing on the blog. What you see as text when you post also contains invisible XHTML/HTML commands. Its a programming error (bug).
    I find the following helps.
    Don`t use ampersands, use `and` in full instead. Type in Wordpad not MS Word if you like to compose and edit first.
    Copying and pasting from websites can bring rogue [X]HTML in with it. If the worst comes to the worst paste into a webpage editor and delete all HTML/XHTML commands, then try reposting.
    If anyone else has thoughts on this please share them.

  • Comment number 32.

    I am a regular contributor to HYS and find the situation regarding various topics frustrating beyond belief. Anything to do with the Israeli situation viz Gaza is strictly censored even if accurate. I also find that Generally HYS is tardy about having debates, you need only look at my feed Leo Roverman to see that. When matters of global importance are mentioned it is amazing how many fatuous issues are raised instead. Ever since the shake up of the BBC following the Gilligan interview regarding the dodgy dossier it has been down hill all the way. This is the Bitish Broadcasting service- you know the one that says "Nation shall speak truth unto Nation". Well apparently that does not hold true for the British. To higlight just how bad its got I could not even write the proper name of Canute for fear that the computer recognised it as a rude Name. Frankly I care nothing for East Enders, strictly come poncing or what ever it is, it is purely pandering to the basest streak in humanity. Who ever is in charge of HYS can put that up their collective pipe and smoke it. Happy to discuss- but probably won't even make a difference.

  • Comment number 33.

    Peston, and Robinson are employed to report the news and give impartial analysis on it. The problem is that the two of them to differing degrees have presented their own opinion or bias as fact. Justin Webb's blogging on the US election was so one sided even Obama supporters, like Bonnie Greer, started to complain about it. I could ignore the bias as a good partisan rant can be worth a read but your reporters can't even manage that.

    If the BBC is to continue getting public funding it has to provide content that is different to other broadcasters, and challenge opinions or stereotypes. Blogs give your reporters a forum to do this.

    And commissioning research to tell everyone how good you are doesn't fool anyone

  • Comment number 34.

    Only losers without a real life keep blogging
    make 2009 a blog free year to really prosper

  • Comment number 35.

    Whenever I read the Daily Mail, I am reminded that the journalism is a patronising mixture of half the story and fearmongering. This newspaper is a festering boil on the political life of Britain. It amazes me that the people who read it can't see the inconsistency, rapid changes of position and insinuation that destroy its credibility as a news source as well as a source of analysis.

    It's comments about BBC news are inane given the routine behaviour of the Daily Mail and how many court cases it loses. It's the last newspaper in the UK to lecture anyone else on either journalism or on standards given its track record of *choosing to mislead*.

  • Comment number 36.

    "corrupt the distinction between news and views"
    Yet the Daily Mail has been doing this for decades...

    "disregarding the ... duty to be impartial"
    Yet the Daily Mail has been doing this for decades...

    Seriously, BBC, you would be doing the public a service if you systematically pointed out how the Daily Mail does these on a daily basis. It might help educate its readers to a simple fact: they are gullible consumers of fact-lite, patronising, misleading, inconsistent news that isn't separated well enough from it's mentally lazy opinion peices.

  • Comment number 37.


    Unfortunately, reporting on the Middle East, the environment, the eu and politics, (to name just four) are tainted because of the BBC’s sordid past. We simply cannot trust that we are getting the whole story. Yes, we get the truth, but do we get the whole truth? Headlines and lead paragraphs loaded with a selected point of view. Stories mysteriously elevated and others given cursory coverage, according to the BBC’s own agenda. These are just a couple of symptoms.

    The Prime Minister is suddenly elevated in the eyes of BBC just in time for a by-election. George Osborne – and not Peter Mandelson - is the story from the Russian billionaire’s boat. These are just recent examples. Examples of relegation of news stories include the recent European Parliament vote to scrap the UK opt-out of the working time directive. This will potentially affect nearly every working person in this country, yet it was virtually buried.

    You state that it is not true to say that it is “impossible to write a half-readable blog without peppering it with opinions” (as the Daily Mail put it). That is your opinion. Just look again at Robert Peston’s and Nick Robinson’s blogs. Look at any of Robin Lustig’s blogs. The latest is entitled “My Predictions for 2008”. No opinions there then!

    Even in your own blog you contradict yourself. You state: “We look to our expert editors such as Nick and Robert to tell us what has happened, to explain why it is or isn't important, what it means, and even what might be the effect”. What is or isn’t important is a judgement. It is an opinion. If you cannot face facts, how can the BBC be trusted to convey them?

    And it’s not just blogs. Most BBC News output contains information mixed with BBC opinion. To say that this is not happening in reporters’ blogs, when it is happening right now as I write this on BBC News and virtually every minute of the day simply shows that you are burying your head in the sand and not facing reality.

    There is a gap in the market for unbiased reporting. The Independent tried to fill this gap when it was launched and lurched leftward soon afterwards. The BBC has missed an opportunity to become a respected source of unbiased and unfettered information. It has failed its licence fee payers and failed in the words of its own Charter.

    Psychobdelic (#27) says that equal complaints of bias from left and right are evidence of neutrality. That was the propaganda the BBC used to put out (many years ago). However, firstly, two wrongs don’t make a right. Opinionated output renders the BBC vulnerable to such accusations and that is the main problem. Also, the BBC has quietly dropped this defence in recent years as the accusations of left-wing bias have far outnumbered those of right-wing bias (there was a time I remember when the BBC actually supported Margaret Thatcher and rubbished Michael Foot, so, perhaps over a quarter of a century they may have achieved some form of neutrality!).

    As for the Daily Mail, it doesn’t have a charter that should ensure unbiased coverage and it is not using public money. It can do and say what it likes (and probably does!). As for virtualsilverlady (#30) Daily Mail circulation has risen for the last few years where all of the others have dropped dramatically. I agree they are biased, but their circulation figures do not bear out your point. I also agree that we have a sort of right of reply to these blogs. However, Nick and Robert have the microphones, cameras and transmitters. They choose what to blog about. Fine if they are unbiased and not so opinionated. However, their opinion counts (unfortunately) when they have the power they have. I resent the fact that they have more prime air-time than my MP, who was voted for. Who voted for Nick and Robert’s views to be aired on national tv?

    Drastic action is required in order to get the BBC’s collective head out of the sand and back to reality. That includes publishing the Balen Report. It also includes farming out political and other sensitive news stories to third party news agencies and culling many of the so-called correspondents. If they want to be newspaper journalists then perhaps they should have that chance. This won’t happen of course while the Labour Party is in power.

    Giles Wilson, your own opinion has got in the way of the facts. The fact is that blogs and other commentaries on BBC News are full of opinions. Your blog is a prime example.

    Just 2 further examples that contradict your fairy-tale view of the BBC:

    The BBC made a statement on Thursday 24th January around 10:12pm stating that “something is wrong with our political system”. This opinion was voiced by Nick Robinson.

    Another BBC statement: Monday 29th September 2008, 9:23am BBC Radio 4 ("Inside Stories"):
    "How people feel is to a large extent down to what people like us say and write" (Mark Easton, BBC's Home Editor)

  • Comment number 38.

    If bias was confined to blogs, it would not be so much of a problem. However, that is far from the case.

    Back when Russia was responding to the Georgian invasion of South Ossettia, the presenter of Newsnight said...

    "The Russians are calling it a peace enforcement operation, it's the kind of Newspeak that would make George Orwell proud."

    Can you imagine the BBC saying the same thing about US or British government announcements? Of course not. It would be "unthinkable". And therein lies the problem. Official enemies are judged to be fair game and the gloves come off. In contrast, official allies are treated with kid gloves and even when committing terrible acts, the news reports are very far from damning.

    Take a look at this BBC report on the Russian Assault on Grozny.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/668080.stm

    Here are some snippets.

    "I had already witnessed the consequences of Russia's pitiless bombardment of its own citizens."

    "Grozny was once a city of half a million people. Now it is torn down, crushed and violated."

    "Of the hundreds of thousands of people who once lived here, but a handful remain, eking out a perilous existence in the fetid basements of crumbling housing blocs."

    "It is thought as many as 40,000 people may have still been in the city at the height of the inferno. How many of them were incinerated, crushed by falling masonry or shredded by shrapnel nobody yet knows. "

    "Moscow excused itself the trouble of worrying about such details by equating those who stayed on with terrorists. "

    "But it was no choice at all. Many were too old, too sick or too weak to move. Some never saw the leaflets telling them to leave and others did not want to go. Grozny was their only home."

    "Why should they go? By what right was the Russian army forcing them from their homes? So Russia could destroy what it itself dismissed as a handful of terrorists?"

    Can you imagine an article with a similar tone of outrage appearing in the BBC's Middle East Section regarding the current bombing of Gaza? The concept is almost laughable.

  • Comment number 39.

    The Daily Mail complaining about impartiality? That's like McDonalds complaining about obesity.
    Thanks to the BBC the British public get a unique and balanced view of the world, unlike the polarised opinions peddled by the likes of the Daily Mail at one end, and The Guardian at the other.

  • Comment number 40.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 41.

    If The Daily Mail are complaining that is a good thing because, if it isn't hurting it isn't working.
    With increasing internet activity and activities such as blogging, the need for The Daily Mail decreases by the day. They don't like the fact that their opinion can be drowned out by others who, it has to be said, have an opinion! I mean perish the thought! And obviously I should have asked The Daily Mail's permission for having such temerity but, if I want to say that Thatcherism is over, I ruddy well will because The Daily Mail would never give permission for people to start saying things like that. I mean what next? People may start to say things like most teachers are good at their jobs, as are train drivers and air traffic controllers etc... Stop, stop! I just might get giddy at the mere thought of being able to have an opinion of my own, (I mean I haven't had any such thing for...how long have I been married?)

  • Comment number 42.

    I rather enjoyed the comment that neutrality is indicated when both extreme left and right shout "bias".... if only it were that easy!!!

    #37 calls it exactly as I see it. News reporting is always limited to fact and fact alone, after that follows opinion, and the problem is that the BBC's journalists do not appear able to distinguish between the two.

    Those in these blogs who find the Daily Mail so distasteful do not have to buy it or read it, but if we wish to possess a television receiver we have no option but to pay a license fee. That license fee provides us with a unique public service broadcaster whose prime function is to remain neutral. As has already been suggested elsewhere since the Dr David Kelly affair the BBC has allowed itself to be politicised in the same way that much of our police force and civil service has been.

    Thus the claim of neutrality wears too thin for comfort and if the Daily Mail takes pot shots then the BBC has only itself to blame. As I see the problem the BBC is too heavily loaded with wishy washy people who are happy to have a big pay cheque very month but not prepared to stick with principles. At least the Daily Mail holds true to what most of its readers want otherwise it would be out of business.

    So the argument about blogs is that they contain bias from BBC staff, which is a given, a fact, and not a figment of a commercial media's imagination. Looking through some of the subjects within these blogs convincingly backs up the Daily Mail argument, like it or not. The Obama affirmations; the WCT7 NIST backing; the Delhi rebuttal; and this blog all contain opinion stated as fact.

    The BBC should be defending its decision to have blogs not getting into a row it cannot hope to win.

    Thus

  • Comment number 43.

    Stephen Glover picks up on an issue that I mentioned a while ago on a BBC blog somewhere.

    There's no such thing as "objective news" reporting only the facts - News is always reported from one angle or another and most of us are generally happy with that. For example, the Beeb report overseas affairs with the assumption that the democratic system is better than any other - that's not objective (and it's certainly not a provable fact) but it's an assumption that most of us are happy to go along with.

    The question is therefore whether the angle the BBC take in reporting / blogging is intentionally (or otherwise) supportive of a particular political stance which not all of its audience is happy to sign up to.

    Lately for me the answer to that question is yes - the Beeb and its editors do seem beholden to left of centre politics.


  • Comment number 44.

    I see Lord Stern is at it again. As an economist he is not in a position to make assessments about a geoscience problem. The task that he is hoping will take place is to prevent climate change by cutting CO2 production. Never mind that our burning of fossil fuels produces only 3% of the total annual carbon flux produced by the planet. Cutting any portion of this will have no effect on climate but will drive Africa further into the stone age and make further problems for the poor of every country.
    Lord Stern is perhaps underemployed as an economist but should keep out of science that he little understands.

  • Comment number 45.

    Giles Wilson may believe the BBC spin that their journalists are completely objective in their handling of the facts but neither I nor many others are so credulous. Unless one is a scientist and dealing with empirical data one cannot be so dispassionate or demonstrate an objectivity about the human condition that will assuage all readers of it's impartiality. In other words sir, bunkum and balderdash!

  • Comment number 46.

    The impartiality of the bbc - what a joke! The bbc has a liberal agenda and is in the pay and thrall of the government, any so called 'news' that doesn't fit that view is smothered. Things cannot be called by their name any more - the muslim expansionist terrorism in Bombay was described wearily as ' anti Indian terrorism'. The riots in Greece which were first posted by the press association were reported as the result of the Greek immigration office closing and the susequent rioting of muslim youths.

    The bbc has reason to fear the blogs although they can edit them, they have to bear witness to the real opinions of the people and as we are well aware, even with assanine - strictly come dancing - if the democratic wishes of the license fee payers doesn't fit the bill, then the people must be forced to be free as Rousseau opined.

  • Comment number 47.

    I hate to inform you but not only Daily Mail readers think the BBC has become the Biased broadcasting Corporation.
    You should read the Telegraph, Guardian,Times and other posters who are very fed up with Aunty pushing labour party propaganda.
    It really is up to the newspaper editors to decide what bias they show BUT Aunty has an impartiality clause which it ignores and distorts to suit a particular agenda.
    And as a taxpayer who keeps some over-priced and talentless bozos in a job at the Beeb, I OBJECT!

  • Comment number 48.

    Interesting that you include Nick Robinson in your blog as I could not find his name in the Daily Mail article. However I suspect you feel guilty that many of his blogs show political bias and have clearly not been reviewed by senior editors. Complaints lodged are usually treated with contempt and it is now time that the Editorial Complaints Unit and the BBC Trust took closer notice of these blogs which no longer represent real news but individual biased views. Surely this should not be the remit of BBC employees?

  • Comment number 49.

    The Daily Mail is part of that opinionated, unaccountable and self-appointed elite who think that it is smart to keep on sniping at the BBC. They are tiresome and it must be unpleasant to be a journalist at the Beeb constantly in the firing line. Unlike Associated Newspapers and their ilk the BBC is accountable - to us the licence payer under the terms of their charter.

    I for one am grateful to the BBC for all they achieve and forgive them the occasional lapses. The BBC online site is superb and the blogs an important part of the offer. Blogging is part of the new democracy of information and opinion and it is here to stay. The BBC provides some of the best forums for debate in Britain and generally maintains good standards and is impartial. The ghastly rabble of Daily Mail readers may think otherwise but I am happy to praise the Beeb, not try and bury it.

  • Comment number 50.

    I don't know why people bother reading any Mail, it's only bills and stuff might as well leave them unopened in their envelopes.

  • Comment number 51.

    #46

    'The bbc has a liberal agenda and is in the pay and thrall of the government'

    Kinda contradict yourself there don't you?

  • Comment number 52.

    BBC blogs are a godsend. Here you are able to read unadulterated opinions and comments straight from the heart. Healthy criticism about official policy is vital in a democracy. Free exchange of views free from insult is a very positive way to evolve. So if bloggers are encouraged to express themselves honestly in a civilised way, blogging would be a boon. Creativity with the interest of fellow beings at heart should be encouraged. Honest blogging is creativity at its best!

  • Comment number 53.

    #51
    Not really, perhaps you mis- read impartial for something else. The bbc should have no political agenda;which liberalism is, and being in thrall to the government of the day and not to the tenet of impartiality it is bound in law to supposedly uphold is I maintain a further example of partiality. If the government were nationalist and had a liberal agenda, that might be an instance of contradiction.

  • Comment number 54.

    I believe it was one time chairman of governers Lord Thomson who said that "Politicians perceive bias towards them as balance, and balance as bias against them".

    I think it's fair to say that this also applies to the politically-committed non-politicians of all hues, including journalists, readers and commenters of all news media, both old and new.

  • Comment number 55.

    The people accusing the BBC of becoming a mouthpiece for the government should ask themselves if they were part of the lynch-mob the Government created to try to bring the BBC under their thumbs after the Kelly incident to begin with.

    If they were, then they really have no grounds to complain, being part of the process to begin with themselves.

    Yes, the BBC has been cowed into submission, the slightest appearance of a mis-step has everyong running to slam them, so they fall on their swords on a regular basis for stuff that's trivial because they know what's coming.

    Maybe people should address the causes instead of blaming the BBC for running scared all the time - your reactions are the very reason why they're nothing more than an extention of Labour's Propaganda^H^H^H^H^HCommunications Directorate.

  • Comment number 56.

    There is something odd about this the basis of this discussion. Mr Glover who is clearly a Conservative Supporter writes:

    "The old distinction between reporters and pundits has widely broken down. Nowhere is this more regrettable than at the BBC, which is enjoined by its charter to provide objective and neutral coverage."

    But there is no such requirement in the current (2006) Charter or in the attached Agreement with the Department of Culture. The word used in the later is 'impartiality' with the gloss:

    ..'due impartiality does not require absolute
    neutrality on every issue or detachment from fundamental democratic principles.'

    Indeed the BBC is required by the Agreement to:..' do all it can to ensure "that controversial subjects are treated with due accuracy and impartiality in all relevant output.' (which includes I think BBC Online,)
    the services must not contain any output which expresses the opinion of the BBC on current affairs or matters of public policy other than broadcasting or the provision of online services.'

    One of the BBC's Purposes (from the Charter) is: "Sustaining citizenship and civil society" which is clealry a contentious and political matter ( recall Mrs Thatcher's and Tony Blair's remarks on the subject) Here the BBC must 'give information about, and increases understanding of, the world through accurate and impartial news, other information, and analysis of current events and ideas' ....and also 'promote media literacy'.

    There are of course a whole series of documents which follow on from these fundamental documents.

    Mr Glover doesn't seem to have been paying attention the what has happened in the past three years to the basic principles of the BBC.

    The word comment does not appear in the documents either or the "distinction between news and comment."
    The distinction is between news and analysis.

    Blogs and other signed contributions seem to me to be permissible provided they are 'signed' and are based on 'accurate' information (unlike Mr Glover's 'comments'.) Taken together the contributions from readers, they represent a contribution to "sustaining citizenship and civil society" in a democratic society..... one version perhaps of Gordon Brown's 'Town Meetings'


  • Comment number 57.

    #53, U1371600 wrote:
    "The bbc should have no political agenda;which liberalism is"

    --
    Liberalism being.....? After all, it's an incredibly broad term.

    Either way, the idea that the BBC should be free of any political (small 'p') agenda is naive. And the idea that liberalism in the form of inclusiveness or catering to minorities represents bias is utterly nonsensical for a publically-funded organisation.

    Unlike the Mail, the BBC has to be 'liberal' because it has a remit to cater to EVERY licence payer in the UK, from opera enthusiasts to Sikhs, from athletes to the deaf (none of those are mutually exclusive btw), from people who identify with the banter of right-leaning figures like Clarkson and Moyles, to those who identify with that of Fry and Hislop on the other.

    It has to cater to a plurality of backgrounds and interests, unless (...and here's the crux...) those backgrounds and interests are themselves illiberal - in which case we get a variation on that dilemma of tolerating intolerance, of how to be liberal of illiberalism without promoting illiberalism. It's not an easy line to walk, and the BBC will get hounded whatever they do. The point is, catering to everyone IS an agenda of liberalism. By its very nature, by the fact that we all have to pay the licence fee, the Beeb is forced to be inclusive and liberal. So while prime time TV/radio and mainstream channels are dominated by majority-friendly programming, the BBC has a duty to not just pander to this group and this group alone but to offer alternatives - and to not make the majority-friendly stuff anti-minority. In other words, not what the right-wing printed press routinely does in disproportionately only ever presenting minorities in a negative light.

    Sometimes the BBC's earnest focus on minorities can appear disproportionate because, well, it is - albeit most often with the best of intentions. Other times, it's because people simply aren't used to their usual right-wing news media focusing in any positive way on minority groups and interests, so by comparison the BBC appears "obsessed" and "biased". If you pick up your Daily Express every day greeted by the headline "NOW MUSLIMS WANT TO TAKE OVER OUR SCHOOLS", or your Daily Mail linking absolutely every problem to New Labour, or ending every negative headline with "...AND YOU PAY!" - then of course the BBC output is going to appear jarring.

    The Daily Mail in many ways represents the very antithesis of liberalism - and - in the words of Barry Norman - why not, after all it has no obligation to do anything else. It's completely free to simply pander to the majority, playing on the fears and resentments about minorities ("the other") and deliberately tapping into the lowest of human instincts and easily-manipulated of emotions - bigotry, suspicion, fear, cynicism, jealousy, gossip, mawkishness, etc - often without the reader even realising it.

    If there's bias at the BBC, it's to the status quo, which has itself - socially at least - largely moved leftwards over the years, with people nowadays showing greater tolerance and maturity on matters of race, sex, sexual orientation and so on. By any civilised standards, that should be a good thing, a kind of growing up, of which this country should be proud. The fact that the BBC reflects this enlightenment - while papers like the Mail still largely exploit division and stoke hatred (because their bottom line is money) - maybe goes some way to explaining the accusations of liberalism from certain quarters, as if that's a bad thing.

  • Comment number 58.

    #55

    You might well be howling at the moon sir if I understand you correctly. demanding that the bbc act impartially and report the alleged mis-deeds of the government in regard to the Kelly affair is proportionate, the fact that the bbc cowed under undue pressure from the government is an indication of the mettle of its managers rather than those who observe its dereliction of duty.The establishment mores of today worship the retention of power and position and pecunary reward far beyond ideals of duty and responsibility. Very few politicians and civil servants fall on their sword - as you put it.
    Incidentally the Romans who were offered the patrician option of suicide, knew the consequences if the didn't - and that didn't include a fat pension and an overpaid job on a pointless quango either.

  • Comment number 59.

    #57
    A genial general apologia for liberalism that the bbc and all the media have adopted is a neccesary aspect of the representational function of the bbb et al. However as posted earlier special interest groups and minorities have become beyond reproach which is deeply anti democratic. Aayan Hirsi Ali, the apostate muslim who dared to try and enter an adult debate about some of the less savoury aspects of islam as far as women were concerned has said that we must re- learn to call things by their name, not self censor the elements of the chosen special cases that are totally unacceptable, and this happens day and daily. If this is enlightenment it is a dogmatic and binkered one.

  • Comment number 60.

    U13716006 - what makes you think #55 is a "sir"?

  • Comment number 61.

    I get that a lot, I figure we poor gentle fairer-sex individuals are rarely seen in these parts :)

    U13716006 should go back and re-read what I said, anyways.

    Part of the pressure on the BBC over the Kelly incident was

    a) the vulnerability other news outlets saw to be able to dent the BBC in order to benefit *them*

    b) the baying of license payers who saw it as an excuse to finally get out of having to actually pay their TV License fees, and

    c) that segment of the population that feels the BBC *should* be biased - towards their particular slant (whichever direction it may lie in) just like all those outlets mentioned in a) above.

    All of which played into the needs of a Government that really didn't like the fact the BBC *did* report fairly on the Kelley incident, and raised very difficult questions for the Government.

    I doubt if most of the people now complaining about a definite slant in the BBCs reporting as a result of the chilling effect having the DG resign, the firings, the constant criticism from the Prime Minister 9who, of course we all believe is totally unbiased and not an interested party, honest), actually stood up and tried to defend the BBC when it *did* report fairly about Kelley and his allegations.

    So when some hack like Glover turns around and says "You know, the BBC shouldn't do this either", group c) above jumps on the bandwagon, closely followed by a) and b), with a circular argument - they're responsible in part for the cowardice of the BBC, and the slant, which they then use to criticize the BBC, which causes it to knee-jerk in martyrdom and get even more slanted - rinse, repeat.

    It's daft.

    I've come to the conclusion that the majority of people just want *something* to whine about, and feel like they have some control over their lives by going after en masse, consistency or logic be damned :P

  • Comment number 62.

    Although I think the BBC's use of blogs is, well far from original, but definitely pushing the envelope in BBC terms, I do feel that it is debatable whether they are serving to improve the BBC image.

    Through the website, the BBC has made the definite choice to "let the public in" as it were. All well and good, but like many things the BBC have been rather naive when it comes to what happens next.

    When the Blogs and the Have Your Say service was launched, there was much said about this issuing in a wonderful collaborative era of BBC meets Mr and Mrs Public.

    Those of us who have been doing this for longer counted down on our 10 fingers the seconds till it was undermined.

    The Have Your Say forum is the most obvious case. The daft system of "recommend this post" has meant that groupings of people can take over the board with ease. It is demonstrated by how the far right wing have completely taken over any talk of immigration, the Labour government and so on (the posts on the death of Harold Pinter were quite horrific). Other boards either abandoned such buttons years ago or replaced them with a positive and NEGATIVE rating system to allow balance. To be honest, you would be better off without the recommend system entirely.

    The moderation is, to say the least, very odd. Although the BBC has clear rules, there is no control over flames and trolls at all, so once again a subject can be ignored and subverted in favour of vitriol.

    The blogs were initially saved this problem by pure luck - the outsourced software was so useless that most of the time you couldn't post at all. Now that is sorted out, I do wonder how much of a headache they are becoming.

    There has always been an issue whether the BBC should have editorial comment in the same way as a newspaper. For years it stayed clear of that, but now with the blogs, unsubstantiated opinion has taken over from good reporting. And it is now taking over the live on camera reporting too.

    Check over how many times Nick Robinson says "unnamed sources..."

    That is not reporting of fact, that is gossip, and has no place from staff at the BBC.

    I think one reason the BBC has gotten away with this is the perception that the BBC is left wing. Anyone who has worked with producers and editors over the last 20 years knows that is no longer the case. There was a shift to the "yuppy" producer under John Birt, and many of those have now grown up and are in senior positions. And they are obviously Cameron Supporters.

    That is not necessarily a bad thing, as long as you are not controlling political content in the BBC.

    The BBC has a duty to be unbiased. It is a duty demanded by the fact that your salaries are paid for by us, the public. You cannot have the luxury of taking a position. If you want that right, then find independent funding.

    While WE are the funding source, you must stick to honest reporting, and leave the gossip and innuendo to the pundits.

  • Comment number 63.

    Normally I don't defend the BBC, and even this isn't defending them, technically, just a clarification:

    Saying "Your salaries are paid for by us, the public", is pushing for bias in a different direction, by "reminding" the BBC of this perceived authority to make demands regulating their activities.

    Lots of people's salaries are paid for by the public, who aren't controlled by the public, why should the BBC somehow be different?

    The public doesn't employ or hire the BBC, and its salaries aren't paid by the public either. The Government charges a license fee which it then uses for the purpose (in part) of subsidizing the BBC - it also charges you National Insurance which it uses (in even less part) to subsidize the NHS, taxes that (negligibly) are used to finance things like roads, the list goes on.

    This idea that the license fee somehow means the public pays the BBC's salary is wrong, and it's that misunderstanding that leads to a lot of stupid people to complain they're not getting their money's worth when they don't actually pay directly for it.

    Next time you're arrested, or NICE denies you life-saving medication because it costs more than they think you're worth, tell the people involved "You can't do this, I pay your salary!" and see how far it gets you :P

  • Comment number 64.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 65.

    Probably because this topic is about the BBC's blogs, not the new Warsaw Ghetto analog?

    I doubt the BBC is likely to open a blog entry on that directly, though one of the correspondants might on theirs - hopefully not as racially moderated as HYS is on the topic however.

  • Comment number 66.

    The problem with blogging is once you start you feel like blogging again half an hour later because you have so many thoughts spinning in your mind.

  • Comment number 67.

    For every comment were the poster has added Daily Mail, let's insert Guardian instead, it may surprise the left-leaning bloggers that the Daily Mail is read by about 3 million people and the Guardian by 200,000. Which one most reflects public opinion??.

    As for BBC blogs, I would like to see more responses from Robinson etc, hardly ever do they respond to the comments added by bloggers, why is this?.

    And to finish my rant....You are not forced to purchase the Daily Mail or the Guardian, however, you are forced to purchase a license for the dubious pleasure of watching left-wing TV.


  • Comment number 68.

    The problem with the BBC blog and HYS sites are that the extreme left wing keep taking over these sites.

    A certain mr Charles H has had over 2,000+ posts posted, yet the next nearest person has had only 780 post posted, both these two people post only pro-left wing propaganda.

    The BBC must do more with it's balance in reporting news stories, I live in the Netherlands and if our national broadcaster was as bias in it's reporting as the BBC it would be closed instantly.


  • Comment number 69.

    Rustigjongens (#67) wrote:
    "it may surprise the left-leaning bloggers that the Daily Mail is read by about 3 million people and the Guardian by 200,000. Which one most reflects public opinion??."

    I suspect that will come as absolutely no surprise to most left-leaning bloggers.

    The fact that the Daily Mail better reflects the majority of public opinion is of no relevance whatsoever to its quality, its accuracy or its truthfulness. After all, the Sun has even more readers than the Mail. I take no pride in saying that I think the country is largely full of idiots. Should the BBC keep lowering its standards to ape the tabloids like the Mail and the Sun just because these are read by more licence-fee payers than broadsheets like the Times and Guardian? The BBC should be better than this. It should be a "pulling up" force, not a "pulling down" one.


    flawedlogic (#68) wrote:
    "The problem with the BBC blog and HYS sites are that the extreme left wing keep taking over these sites."

    Haha! Yes that's right, the BBC comment areas are just flooded by extreme left-wing posters. And we can just extrapolate that from the fact that Charles H is just ONE person who posts a LOT. And his pro-New Labour stance obviously makes him "extreme left wing". Good grief....

  • Comment number 70.

    In deference to all the more wordy answers in its defence the BBC has had a more pro-government bias since the sad death of Dr David Kelly, and all power to those other media outlets that reflect public opinion on this matter.

  • Comment number 71.

    When commenting about moderation, and especially HYS, it's worth remembering that the BBC has outsourced the task to external unidentified compan[y|ies] in an undisclosed location.

    The BBC also hasn't made public very many specifics about the guidelines and parameters the outsourced moderators use, either.

    I think, given the moderation of HYS regarding disability issues, it's a reasonable assumption that the location of at least the HYS moderators is somewhere that places little value on the lives of people with disabilities - and if they allow their prejudices on that subject to show through, it might be worth asking yourselves if the prejudices in what gets through and what's rejected in HYS on other topics is the BBC's - or the moderators.

    I think however that the blogs are moderated either by a different company, or the few employees at the company that also handles HYS moderation that actually have an IQ above room temperature and a sense of duty to their role *as* moderators.

    The blog moderators seem to be a far more professional bunch.

    Just an observation on HYS bias.

    As for the authors responding to comments, it does tend to happen, it just doesn't tend to happen on The Editors (more like on dot.Life). After all, considering the general tone of the comments many times, why on earth would they want to be dragged into something that will never be considered a debate, or a conversation, but simply browbeating by commenters who disagree and think they have the right to demand the author do all sorts of things to satisfy them?

    If people were more civil, less confrontational, and the 9/11 paranoid morons with the brains of rocking horses would shut up for once instead of trying to hijack every thread they can, maybe the authors would actually enjoy participating in the blog comments :P

  • Comment number 72.

    I totally agree with Mr Wilson. Blogs are serving a useful platform to gauge the true public opinion. Of course offensive and illegal blogs ought to be tamed but not censored if they happen to be not in tune with the moderators. The same applies to HYS moderators; I have problems sometimes about their judgement.

    Long live Blogs and uncensored HYS posting
    .

  • Comment number 73.

    ."That's just not true. We look to our expert editors such as Nick and Robert to tell us what has happened, to explain why it is or isn't important, what it means, and even what might be the effect. As to what their personal opinions about the news are, well, that's just not the business we're in."

    When one views events from a News Reporter's point of view,one's thoughts,bias,sympathies,are operating as these constructs are filtered through one's total World View.
    From a psychological point of view one may not be aware that these pre-conceived ideas are operating but as professionals these Reporters ought to be aware that there is a possibility that they are.As the Johari Window illustrates there are certain areas of our Consciousness that are outside our awareness,and are not obvious to others,and there are areas of Consciousness that are obvious to others,but not to our own self.
    The background education of these Reporters are typically Liberal and to say these hidden Biases do not operate is quite frankly naive and uninformed,and a form of denial.
    Reporting,involves the Who,Where,What and When,but the Why if explained is a personal opinion and is not accurate reporting.
    Lets face it we stand with a certain World View,and if the Reporters are honest they will
    admit they pick up the most likely explanation for an event that makes sense to their World View.
    Vis a Viv Israel These Reporters are Liberal European Advocates for the Palestinian Cause,Palestine good,Israel bad.
    If they are truly professional they would admit that this bias IS present in their reporting.

  • Comment number 74.

    ."That's just not true. We look to our expert editors such as Nick and Robert to tell us what has happened, to explain why it is or isn't important, what it means, and even what might be the effect. As to what their personal opinions about the news are, well, that's just not the business we're in."

    When one views events from a News Reporter's point of view,one's thoughts,bias,sympathies,are operating as these constructs are filtered through one's total World View.
    From a psychological point of view one may not be aware that these pre-conceived ideas are operating but as professionals these Reporters ought to be aware that there is a possibility that they are.As the Johari Window illustrates there are certain areas of our Consciousness that are outside our awareness,and are not obvious to others,and there are areas of Consciousness that are obvious to others,but not to our own self.
    The background education of these Reporters are typically Liberal and to say these hidden Biases do not operate is quite frankly naive and uninformed,and a form of denial.
    Reporting,involves the Who,Where,What and When,but the Why if explained is a personal opinion and is not accurate reporting.
    Lets face it we stand with a certain World View,and if the Reporters are honest they will
    admit they pick up the most likely explanation for an event that makes sense to their World View.
    Vis a Viv Israel These Reporters are Liberal European Advocates for the Palestinian Cause,Palestine good,Israel bad.
    If they are truly professional they would admit that this bias IS present in their reporting.

  • Comment number 75.

    I believe BBC journalists a lot quicker than I would rate anything written by a Daily Mail propagandist.

    I don't believe however that BBC journalists should inevitably be seen to be a neutral (synonymous with upholding the political and economic status quo) part of any news. Provided facts are solidly given and evidenced, much news should lead to logical proper conclusions based on that evidence.

    The latter is the bit I personally find to be often missing. For example the workings or non-workings of capitalism seem to be unseen or taboo areas at the BBC (due in part to the political pressure that bears on them if they dare to start looking at the 'truth', due in part to their cosy middle of the road presentation as evidenced in a program like "How To Prescript and Sanitise The" Question Time.

    Thus presentation items on, say, Barack Obama can seem like repitition of the latter's PR. A moments factual reflection should make it clear that Obama has no more the solutions to problems than my dog - his role as President of a capitalist USA is to safeguard the interests (profits etc) of the USA, so his job is not change but to keep things pretty much the same.

    The amazing fact that we live in a world where the vast majority of the world works to enrich a small percentage of the human race, and the enormous consequences this has on every one of us, seems to avoided the notice of most journalists.

    If some of them, BBC or other, manage to start exploring in a less sanitised or more rigorous way in their blogs then it ought be welcomed. Blogs also give some opportunity to us, the person to whom news is being given. to give feedback directly.










  • Comment number 76.

    Maybe Mr glover is not really sure what a blog is! I guess its his opinion on a subject that he does not agree with? Gosh as a "Daily Mail" commentator you havent got to much to worry about Giles! If it was a guy who had a degree in blog from Oxford or Exictor or even the "Uni of life" who lost the plot! Mr glover bloging is chatting with people who you will never understand!!

  • Comment number 77.

    I actually enjoy the blogs, in particular Peston's very much.
    I dont look at them for "news" but for angles to the news that, even though I may not always agree with them, make me think, think in a different direction... different even from the blogger's conclusions, something the news "sec" cannot do; it just leads me into my familiar thinking patterns, including my prejudices (although of course I strenuously deny having any of those..).

    so keep up this, to me, valuable service.
    looking forward to reading many many more in 2009.

    best wishes to all at the BBC; keep going

  • Comment number 78.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 79.

    Seems I hit a "Truther"'s nerve. I guess it's perfectly acceptable for them to slander those of us who were actually present on 9/11 and accuse us of being part of some "grand conspiracy", with the implication we're complicit in mass-murder, but calling them for the wingnuts they are upsets them.

    Guess they only like their version of truth. Maybe someone should find out if their accusations can be considered slander?

    Anyways, bluecopperCassandra @ 74:

    "The background education of these Reporters are typically Liberal and to say these hidden Biases do not operate is quite frankly naive and uninformed,and a form of denial."

    Doesn't that show a bias of your own? I didn't see you mention you had one in your post.

    As for "liberal", I assume either you're making Faux News "reporters" laugh themselves silly at the implication they're "typically liberal", or you have a really warped standard for conservative?

    Throwing in Johari Windows in this context is just psychobabble to try and give your points some pseudo-scientific weight, I fear.

    As someone else has pointed out previously, the fact both left-wing and right-wing commenters are complaining about bias at the BBC probably means they're actually doing it right - pleasing neither side.

    Out of curiosity, does anyone here believe the Daily Snail would allow a thread like this to exist going after their reporting on their site?

    The BBC is flawed, perhaps fatally now, but the blogs *do* serve a purpose beyond giving the reporters a place to post "beyond" the "news" - it's a place for us to go to say what we think about a lot of things that HYS simply doesn't provide.

  • Comment number 80.

    Apart from the TOTP Teen Magazine, the CBBC Magazine, Breakfast mugs. sports sponsorship, a book called Crap Cars - no, I'm not joking- the highly industrious (that's irony by the way) BBC editors also have time for 'blogs' to contribute to the 'blogosphere' and 'web 2.0'.

    These blogs, especially the Peston effort are mainly of the 'how clever I am' and 'so modest' variety. They are a tribute to mistaken self-importance. Otherwise, the tend to be about Strictly Come Dancing.

    I conclude that Sir Anthony Jay was quite right and the BBC could do with some reductions in its sprawling public money supported - to the detriment of those fools who try to do the same by their own efforts - empire.

    So, if you want to blog, do it in your own time, with pay like everyone else.

  • Comment number 81.

    I can't believe in the same sentance as you speak of reporters not airing their opinions you used the name Nick Robinson.

    His blog sounds more like a labour publicity campaign than a blog.

    This wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't for the fact ALL of your bloggers seem to have the same political standpoint.

    So you say theres nothing wrong with airing opinion? Ok fair enough, but when ALL of your reporters show themselves to have the same opinions it doesn't bode well for the state of your reporting.

    Where is your right wing blogger? Pro conservative anti labour? I see lots of pro labour blogs but never the alternative argument.

  • Comment number 82.

    Gurubear (#62): I don’t doubt that there are David Cameron supporters in the BBC. Cameron is a Tony Blair clone and is a product of the BBC.

    For several years now our political parties have tailored their messages to become increasingly BBC-friendly. Anyone with right wing views is generally rubbished or, worst still, is not invited to appear on the BBC. The last time any number of right wingers appeared on the BBC was when they were trying to discredit John Major’s government with the BBC trawling for anti-euro/eu politicians to appear on camera or on the radio.

    The Conservatives made a stand against John Redwood’s treatment by the BBC (and received an apology in return). However this is rare. Most of the ridiculing of right wing politicians goes unchallenged (in public anyway), as the victims presumably feel that the extended publicity that would result would make things even worse.

    Our political parties are almost identical in terms of presentation and even in policies. The Conservatives are not stupid. They know the power that the BBC currently has. They know that they’re only hope of getting air time and not being treated like dirt is to tow the BBC line. This is why there is so much voter apathy. We have a choice between three BBC-friendly political parties and that’s it.

    I do not believe there is any great BBC conspiracy. I wish it were that simple. I do believe, however, there is a left wing ideology at the BBC which permeates every level. It’s similar to the infiltration we have seen at schools, universities, the civil service, courts and more recently with the police. Placing recruitment ads in publications other than The Guardian is just tinkering at the problem.

    The best way to, at least, make a start, will be to completely stop commentaries, speculation, gossip etc that masquerade as news. Cull the so-called correspondents and let the hacks get back to reporting facts.

    At least we won’t have the embarrassment of Giles Wilson trying to defend the undefendable.

  • Comment number 83.

    KennethM wrote:
    "For several years now our political parties have tailored their messages to become increasingly BBC-friendly."

    Front-bench members of the Tory party certainly have, I'll agree with that. Cameron also made that remark about how his party should try to sound more like Polly Toynbee (of the Guardian).

    However, New Labour on the other hand have gone out of their way to appear decidedly Mail-friendly for several years now - and in government, their influence is considerably greater than any leftward-drifting Tories.

    You can't possibly have missed the many references to it: countless Home Secretaries and other politicians all lining up trying to outdo each other in who can sound the toughest on crime, who can stoke the next anti-Muslim 'furore', who can make the most references to the "hard working families".... etc etc. All classic Mail-friendly stuff designed to hit the right buttons.

    It was no accident that when Blair chose to attack the way the press blur the lines between news and views, he chose one of the few left-leaning papers as his example - the very low-circulation Independent - instead of the obvious gorilla in the room, the Daily Mail, with its 'views'paper front page headlines like "NOW WILL YOU LISTEN MR BLAIR?" and "WHY 'SHOULD' WE PAY THE IRAQIS?" and "DON'T WE WANT TO PUNISH CRIMINALS ANY MORE?" and "SO WHAT ABOUT EILEEN'S DIGNITY?"

    The BBC isn't even remotely close to the Mail when it comes to blurring the line between news and views, or introducing bias. Not by a long shot.

  • Comment number 84.

    Firstly the Blogs could be a good thing.At least they expose the political leanings of the writers in an unguarded way so that all those who want to judge can.

    Its just a shame that is exposes auntie to be a narrow minded organisation that only seems to employ people from one side of the political spectrum.

    What worries me about the bloggs is that they offer an unedited (or partially unedited) opportunity for the BBC writers to propogate their
    opinions wihout balance.

    Has anyone ever taken a political survey of the beeb?It could be done anonymously with no fear of retribution. I think the reason it hasnt ever been proposed is that it will expose the true nature of auntie. The beeb isnt extremist or totally objectionable but it is very self selective.

    One point I think its important to make. 2,000,000 people choose to buy the Mail. They have a choice of many titles and they choose one that matches their views . Therefore they dont have to be impartial.
    The only choice with auntie is buy/pay for their product or not watch telly, therefore auntie has a duty to at least attempt to represent all views. Its broad opinion should mirror the broad opinion of the populous or at least the opinion of the majority. and then there should be alternative voices. Yet tory voices are as rare in the Beeb as a ranger shirt in St Peters square.

    The mail and its right wing bias shouldn't be an excuse for the left leaning of the beeb.

    (BTW I have never voted tory and am a paid up Liberal supporter)

    Thus the bloggs themselves are not to blame they just expose a symptom of the onesidedness of the beebs news output

  • Comment number 85.

    Post 82. `I do believe, however, there is a left wing ideology at the BBC which permeates every level. It`s similar to the infiltration we have seen at schools, universities, the civil service, courts and more recently with the police.`

    Another way of looking at this is that the views espoused by The Mail and presumably yourself are becoming increasingly anachronistic. The Mail sells just over 2 million copies, that’s to just approx. 3% of the UK`s population. (And I know people that buy it solely for the fashion or money sections.)
    That`s the reason why Cameron is so centrist, it`s what the Conservative`s private polling and focus groups are also telling them about the elctorate.

  • Comment number 86.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 87.

    In a democracy, a free press is vital. The BBC now dominates news coverage with the demise of ITN and its generous budget.

    If it does not get its house in order before the next election I really fear for our ability to obtain unbiased news when those in power lose patience and the ton of bricks comes crashing down on it.

    NB Paddytoplad (#86). My impression is that Portillo moderated his views in order to get a career on the BBC and become the token Tory. A micro version of what the BBC has done to our politics. Criticisms of the BBC rarely gain traction. Why? Because, just like Portillo, ex MPs, rival journalists, quangos, ex-public servants etc often rely directly or indirectly on the BBC for a living, whether it is as a BBC employee or in order to sell a book. If you do not compromise your views then you end up like Norman Tebbit, largely shunned by the BBC.

  • Comment number 88.

    #87, I think you'll find Portillo moderated his views a fair while before joining the BBC, a process that began in the aftermath of his 1997 election defeat. I see no reason to doubt that what we hear from him now is anything but what he genuinely believes. He has been quite open about the softening of his views, compared with where they were previously. If you think that shift was done to advance his BBC career, then you presumably think he's keeping his real views under wraps...? Or are you suggesting there's a psychosis at work?

    As for Tebbit being shunned by the BBC, he's had - and continues to have - plenty of exposure on the BBC's political programmes, from Newsnight to Question Time. Not exactly what I'd called "largely shunned", and he's more fortunate than many of the more centrist Tories from the Thatcher and Major era. What's more, given that the BBC has a duty to cater to everyone (what I referred to before as its inherent liberalism and need to avoid illiberalism), I'm amazed it continues to offer so much air time to someone who, to take one example, refers to "sexual deviance" when he means homosexuality. Ironic that it's the BBC's oft-attacked "liberalism" that enables him to have this platform, as well as enabling the slew of right-wing commenters that bombard the BBC comment areas to have their say too.

    Farage, Widdecombe, etc are also never far away on the BBC.

    That is the other charge of course, that the BBC only selects the far-right figures rather than the less extreme ones, in order to present the overall party as more extreme and loony than it is. The BBC could be attacked on both diametrically opposing grounds - and indeed is, even though they cannot both be right.

  • Comment number 89.

    #88

    The bbc's 'duty to cater for everyone' and its effective total ban on nationalist views is the most potent example of its almost liberal 'fascism'. There is a large percentage of English, Irish,Welsh and Scots who are thoroughly fed up with the mantra of the unquestionable benefits of multiculturalism. The unrelenting liberal dogma has brow beaten folk into not daring to think that their own national identity is valid and worth protecting. If one chooses to vocalise any such thoughts in polite society, one suffers the very real risk of being branded racist - a slur that can only be trumped, it seems, by that of paedophillia.

    The nationalist argument is always 'framed' to illustrate its 'deviance' by such terms as far right, fascist, nazi, and of course racist.

    No reasonable dialogue has been allowed. It is against the bbc's charter and dangerous. Personally I resent the views of my parents (deceased, and who fought and suffered in the war) being traduced because they are currently unfashionable to the liberal establishment.

    Those who cannot see the partiality of the bbc are looking with both eyes shut.





  • Comment number 90.

    It quite funny that the "BBC is attacked from both sides argument and therefore is not biased" is only espoused by the left. It never seems to be mentioned by those with a right of centre view.

    Possibly because the vast majority of bias complaints are from the right.

    The only left wing criticism of the Beeb is from the Galloway fringe.

    Try doing a straw poll. How many complaints can you read on any of the bloggs/forums from the left and how many are there from the right?

    If its not 50: 1 in favour of the right then I'm a monkeys uncle.

    There were probably many who thought Stalin wasnt lefty enough but that doesnt mean he followed some utopian social democrat middle ground.

    The two sides argument does not hold water.

    If politics is a bell curve then you can always find a few loonies who are left of auntie but that doesnt say that the beeb sits in the center of the curve.

    I dont even care is Auntie is slightly biased just a few opposing views from the right would be nice.

    Life is a little less colourful when all your news comes from people who all go to the same gastro pubs drink the same dodgy wines and read the same newspaper.

    Maybe auntie should try and actively recruit someone who has never owned a Che Guevera t-shirt.

    Wolfie Smith is alive and well. He no longer wears a beret but a boateng suit.

    He feels guilty about being paid too much and therefore covers it up by being as right-on as he possibly can.

    Hes too old to have been a hippy but has a liking for cheescloth on weekends. He wears birkenstocks on sundays and rainbow pastel ties on weekdays. He gives to Greenpeace and Amnesty (the latter not a bad thing btw).

    He went to loads of red wedge concerts has at least 3 billy bragg cds as well as the indigo girls and a bit of Bob Dylan.

    He thinks hes in touch with the streets but likes his skinny latte with cinammon sprinkles.

    Hes an angst ridden past the boat wannabe revolutionary. Loves Castro hates Bush.

    Campaigns against global warming yet winters in GOA and has an Aga.

    Likable well meaning but still biased.
    For wolfie read Rory, Andrew or Giles

  • Comment number 91.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 92.

    Bias is in the eyes of the beholder. If someone complains of bias, it's always because they don't agree with what's been said.

    Anyone who is interested enough in something to become a journalist is going to have an opinion. Personally, I'm interested to read what BBC journalists really think. The only defence against bias is to use your own critical faculties and don't just accept what you are told, whatever the source.

  • Comment number 93.

    Moonie my wee Yank friend I dont care what your politics are.

    You sound like a nice woman and I always like debating with the cousins.

    From your perspective Auntie may seem some worthy ideal.

    The ideal has gone sour.

    I am a centerist or at least the pary I'm a member of is center / slightly left of center.
    But even from my perspective the beeb are a little one sided.

    FYI wolfie smith was a character from 70s sitcom called citizen smith. It featured a likeable deluded wannabe revolutionary.
    When I accuse auntie of being wolfie in disguise its not out of any hatred just dissppointment that your once lucid bright and interesting friend has become a ranting self righteous bore.

  • Comment number 94.

    Paddytoplad:

    The only left wing criticism of the Beeb is from the Galloway fringe.

    Other than opposing the decision to invade Iraq - and recognizing the hysteria whipped up by the press about Muslims - I have virtually nothing in common with "the Galloway fringe" as you call it. I disagree with the man on all sorts of positions, from unions to abortion. On matters of business and economy, I lean decidedly to the right. Oh well, never mind. As Moonwolf said, 10 out of 10 for effort.

    U13716006:
    The bbc's 'duty to cater for everyone' and its effective total ban on nationalist views is the most potent example of its almost liberal 'fascism'.

    'Liberal' fascism? I can only ask - respectfully - do you even know what you're talking about here? Honestly, it seems to me some people just throw around the word 'liberal' as if it's a one-size-fits-all insult, much like 'political correctness'. Liberal fascism eh? That's a good one. I'll keep that in mind next time I'm watching the Welsh nationalists speak on BBC TV. As they're inclined to do quite often.

    Must go though, lots of TV to catch up on. Besides Paxo and Clarkson, there's that guy who the BBC chose to front their flagship political output each day, what's his name, that leftie? Andrew Neil, that's it. Oh and an old Question Time awaits too, fronted by that ex Bullingdon-Club member, a virtual figurehead for all major royal and political occasions... with the fawning pro-establishmenet delivery, now what's his name again? (Sorry, I may have to get back to your other points after I've had my left-wing brainwashing from the Beeb.)

  • Comment number 95.

    quite a few lefties fawned over her Madge Wilson and Callaghan were pretty toadyish.

    As for Mr Dimbleby and his family they are hardly paid up tories. Just because of the oxford english accent doesnt mean you're a tory ref. antony Blunt and Tony Benn.

    Just cast your mind back to q time 2 days after 9/11.
    The number of complaints the beeb got that night were unprecedented. Majority Muslim panel majority muslim audience and the only right winger was Boris who put in his own complaint after the show.
    I remember the look of shock on the ex US embassadors face as question after question was loaded against the US.

    Remember this was only 2 days after the attack yet auntie thought it was an appropriate time to have a pop at the Yanks.

    Remember there were more Brits killed in NY than on any day in the NI troubles and yet the beeb thought it was ok to goad the US.

    Sick crass and innapropriate. There would have been plenty of time in the future to debate US foriegn policy but just over 48 hours after was sick

    And as for Andrew Brillopad Neil hes the worst type of tokenism. Late night graveyard shift show playing opposite the Bingo on ITV.

    Support Auntie if you wish it is a free country.
    I'm not going to lose any sleep I'm just a little dissapointed that alternative views dont get airtime.

    As for Paxo and Clarkson I think one of the reasons they are so popular with the public is that their views and the views of people like them are so rarely expressed on the state run media that they seem refreshing .

  • Comment number 96.

    Paddytoplad:

    I was replying to your observation that the "attacked from both sides" statement seems to only come from those on the left - cos I made a similar statement somewhere in here I think.

    You're right that the reference to "wolfie" went right over my head, I guess it's a cultural thing, but I hopefully got the gist of it with your commentary.

    I can see where there are similarities that would fit that commentary, but I think we disagree on the reason why those similarities exist.

    My position is the BBC has lost its claim to impartiality, and skews left, as a matter of self-preservation as it tries to salvage its very existance from a Government that would like to see it totally defanged and no longer a threat to it.

    Which, to my disgust, seems to be the case at this point in time. The aftermath of the Kelly incident is made absolutely clear in the response to the Ross phone call incident - what Prime Minister jumps up and publicly calls for the resignation of a broadcaster?

    The BBC cannot be impartial when the Government publicly attacks it, and the Government, being the ones who ultimately control the purse strings, attacking it is A Bad Thing™.

    So, the BBC is, in my view, not being biased because it *is* biased - rather it's being biased because it's too scared to be anything else.

    It *was* a great ideal once, but until it can regain a DG and Trust that is more interested in honesty than their jobs, it's going to fail in every measurable standard to live up to its prime.

    In some ways the BBC may just end up being the mirror image of The Murdoch Media Empire™ ... Except it will never have the ability to truly be a counterweight to that behemoth, and shouldn't try.

    Which, to get back on topic, is where the blogs are something that may in fact be essential to keeping the BBC's reporting in perspective - it gives everyone, within reason, a chance to call the BBC on its reporting, or the reporters on their opinions. in that respect, it's one of the few rebuttals available to try to keep them (BBC and the government) honest.

    And it raises another question: If, as I posit, the BBC is skewed in part because it's running scared of offending it's Overlords in the Government, whose responsibility is it to support the BBC in trying to regain that independence?

    If, as some people believe, the BBC is paid for (directly) by the taxpayers, do the people have a responsibility to tell the Government to quit trying to influence it through its intimidatory chilling effect actions against the BBC?

    How can the BBC be immunized against those effects if it's not supported by those who demand it have that independence from influence?

    dotconnect:

    I doubt U13716006 knows anything that isn't in a BNP talking points memo, he (she?) hasn't actually responded to anything yet with any rationality except with soundbite-worthy sloganeering. My guess is the only thing he/she hasn't used yet is the media elite line :P

  • Comment number 97.

    You know, it occurs to me that it would be interesting to know the political leanings of BBC staff laid off or on the line to be laid off in the near future at the BBC.

    Over here it'd be hideously illegal to track such metrics, but I'm pretty sure that it's obligatory in the UK ... Maybe that would give all of us a solid basis beyond our perceptions to judge the BBC's leanings.

    Anyone know if it's possible to file a freedom of information act request to find out?

  • Comment number 98.

    Paddytoplad - 'The Daily Politics' is hardly "late night graveyard shift" now is it?

  • Comment number 99.

    dottie, a bit of an off topic question but do you work for auntie in some way?

    Even if you do, you have a right to discuss I'm just curious.

    You seem very pro the beeb.

    Fascism does seem an extreme description however in its literal sense with a small f it is partially correct.

    To quote wiki ( the font of all knowledge I know but it was a convenient resource)

    fascism requires
    "collective unity by limiting or rejecting individual self interests, rights and liberties and by requiring individuals to contribute to, obey and fight for the interests of the nation "

    the above could describe the monolithic message of auntie.

    Still fascism is an emotive word which has a greater meaning when taken in the context of the last century.

    A better description would be a "closed shop" which selects candidates from predominately one source (no matter what excuse is given, giving over half your recruitment advertisng money to one paper is a little suspect) ( my business is printing and if any state run organisation is placing that much work in my industry it has to go out to tendor. It seems odd that there is so little competition.. Most media organisations would bend over backwards to satisfy the requirements of aunties advertising needs.)

    I dont believe Beeb staff believe they are biased. I believe they are honest worthy people. I do , however believe they are institutionally biased ( their words or at least the words of their watchdogs)

    I dont want the beeb staff to all suddenly become ' tory boy' I just want holistic reporting. Any significant view held by parts of the nation should be allowed to be expressed even if we find it hateful.

    The staff at broadcasting house should better reflect the spectrum of the nation.

    The Beeb rightly strives to fit the ethnic mix of the population why then does it find it so hard to also fit the political mix of the UK?

  • Comment number 100.

    oops thought you meant this week
    I'm at work when the daily politics is on

    still up against the entertainment heavyweights this morning loose women and bargain hunt it does have a prime slot on BBC 2

    12pm wow thats real prime time

    viewing figures of 250,000

    what a fantastic slot.

 

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