BBC BLOGS - The Editors

Inside Inside Sport

Amanda Farnsworth | 13:10 UK time, Friday, 13 April 2007

I've written an entry on the Sport Editors' blog about the new sports news programme we're launching soon.

You can read and comment on it here.

A new goal

Amanda Farnsworth | 15:59 UK time, Wednesday, 8 November 2006

If you look up my old blog entries, specifically one I wrote about feeling conflicted about the Six O'Clock News being shunted off to BBC Two when big sporting events appeared, you will find it less of a surprise that I'm moving to set up a new sports news programme.

BBC One and Six O'Clock News logoThat means leaving the One and Six and going up a few floors in this building to the Sports department. It's going to be on BBC One and start sometime next year. I shall continue to blog and I will be starting a debate on the web to solicit your ideas as to what you might like to see on the programme once I get my feet under the table. I am leaving one of the best jobs (and more importantly best teams) in journalism and I must admit I got a little teary-eyed when I told the team this morning.

But change and challenge is generally a good thing. A BBC correspondent once said to me, if you see an open door you should push it and see what's on the other side.

Stern report - your views

Amanda Farnsworth | 15:53 UK time, Monday, 6 November 2006

Thanks to those of you who commented on my blog about our climate change coverage - some interesting views. I thought you might all be interested in the results of a poll by the Daily Politics programme on our willingness to pay green taxes.

BBC Six O'Clock News logoIt's a somewhat more mixed result - and a poll is only a poll - than I had thought. People do seem willing to pay IF they can be sure the government is going to tax in the right way and at the moment they don't seem to trust this will be the case. Anyway here are the results.

    The government has published a report showing that climate change could have a very significant impact on the world economy unless action is taken now to reduce carbon emissions. Please say whether you agree or disagree with each of the following statements:
    1) The government should impose higher taxes on activities that cause pollution, even if that means the end of cheap flights and driving a car becomes more expensive. Agree 53% Disagree 45%.
    2) 'Green taxes' will unfairly hit poorer people, while rich people will be able to continue to drive and fly just as much as before. Agree 69% Disagree 28%.
    3) 'Green taxes' are not really about helping the environment; they are just designed to provide more revenue for the Government. Agree 62% Disagree 33%.
    4) There's not much point in doing my bit for the environment because Britain accounts for only 2% of the world's carbon dioxide emissions. Agree 33% Disagree 64%.

You can find more details here (it's a PDF file).

Stern reports

Amanda Farnsworth | 16:13 UK time, Tuesday, 31 October 2006

The Stern Report was indeed stern. Warnings of coastal flooding, mass migration and the worst depression since World War Two if we don't act now to save the planet.

BBC Six O'Clock News logoWhat has struck me increasingly over the past month or two is that it looks like the politicians may be way out in front of the general public on climate change. All three main political parties now appear to agree that green taxes are the way to go - indeed they vie with each other about which can be most green.

But for many of our viewers, who e-mailed, phoned and wrote in their thousands, they are much more sceptical and they were concerned that green taxes were just another way of squeezing money out of them by the treasury. They also were worried that the UK may end up doing much more than other countries and therefore pay a disproportionate amount of the cost.

So when we came to discuss how to cover this report yesterday morning, we were very concerned to try and reflect the element of scepticism that many of our viewers felt, as well as giving the information about what was in the report and what major government figures, economists and scientists were saying about it. We wanted to try and test Stern's figures and also the willingness of the public to pay green taxes.

It was a difficult balance to strike - do you think we were successful?

North Korea feedback

Amanda Farnsworth | 10:30 UK time, Wednesday, 18 October 2006

Last week I asked how much coverage you thought we ought to give to the North Korea story. Thank you all very much indeed for all your responses - it really is useful to get at least some sort of feel for what you think.

BBC Six O'Clock News logo I promised to give you the information about audience reaction on this story after a few days, so here it is.

For the Six O'Clock News, the story that stood out for over half the audience (54%) was: World leaders condemn North Korea nuclear test and this was also the story they wanted to know more about (39%).

Six thousand people wrote into the BBC News website in the first 24 hours after the story broke. The story was also the most read on the website all of Monday.

Thanks again.

Over the top?

Amanda Farnsworth | 15:28 UK time, Wednesday, 11 October 2006

So how interested are you in North Korea apparently carrying out a nuclear test? We had a heated debate in our editorial meetings. Did we do too much?

BBC Six O'Clock News logoI'm responsible for the Six O'Clock News, where we did 11-and-a-half minutes. ITN did more than that, partly because they were opening their new Bejing bureau I suspect.

But was this a really significant story you wanted to have explained in depth? Or was it interesting but frankly four or five minutes would have been better? I'd very much like your views.

We have some realtime audience reaction fugures from our website and also from a panel that says overnight what they found most interesting and want to know more about. I'll leave you all to tell me what you think and then blog again giving you that information from the website - let's see if you agree...

Demonising dogs?

Amanda Farnsworth | 15:15 UK time, Tuesday, 26 September 2006

We've had a few comments about our coverage of the tragic death of a baby girl in Leicester, after she was mauled by two Rottweiler dogs.

BBC One/Six O'Clock News logoDid we vilify Rottweilers? Did we create panic amongst dog owners? I think the answer to the latter point is no, judging by the responses from the audience I've seen, but it's a fair point, and a good thing for us to take a look at our coverage and see what we said.

Looking back I really don't think we demonised the dogs. They did kill a child, and it's news exactly because it is very unusual. Every broadcast outlet and national newspaper covered this story for this reason. But we didn't refer to them as "devil dogs".

I think it would have been irresponsible for us to speculate on the exact circumstances that led to the dogs attacking the child, because we simply didn't know them and we couldn't blame parents, friends or family - we had no information.

We did however put some context about controlling dogs in the coverage from the local councillor (watch the report here).

Personally, I am a big animal lover, and know two Rottweilers. I wouldn't want our coverage to imply any blanket assertion about any breed. I hope in this case we didn't.

Checking hand luggage

Amanda Farnsworth | 18:41 UK time, Monday, 14 August 2006

It's all been pretty confusing for passengers - just exactly what can you take as hand luggage on a plane?

BBC Six O'Clock News logoSo some bright spark on the Six O'Clock News came up with the idea of making our own baggage size checker, and taking it to passengers so they could find out on the spot whether their bag would pass muster.

The BBC's baggage-checking device at an airport, todaySo we did it - in fact our friends at CBBC made it for us for free. Not quite sure why they did, but they did...

It turns out lots of passengers are still bringing the old size hand luggage and getting told to repack - perhaps every check in desk should get one of our size checkers - we could start our own business!

Nationwide interest

Post categories:

Amanda Farnsworth | 15:47 UK time, Monday, 31 July 2006

Tommy Sheridan - who is he? Well, if you live outside Scotland you might not really know. But if you live in Scotland or are Scottish, you may well have been glued to your sets/PCs/newspapers/phone to home!

BBC Six O'Clock News logoMr Sheridan is, for the unitiated, a Scottish politician who is currently involved in a defamation trial which includes allegations of sex and swingers' parties. It makes for a heady mix; but at what point does a story of interest to one part of the UK move into the wider national arena?

It's a hard question and I'm afraid there's not a one-size-fits-all answer.

In this case, we knew we would do the biggest story in Scotland at the end of the trial.

But then today we thought it might be good to introduce those non-Scotland viewers to it before then, and as Mr Sheridan is actually questioning his own wife in the witness box today (he has fired his top QC) it was a great opportunity.

Here's a flavour of the proceedings:

The politician, who has described himself as teetotal, later questioned her about claims he had drunk alcohol. Mrs Sheridan replied: "You would not know one end of a wine bottle from the next.

"If I had read tea but wine... ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous."

Mr Sheridan asked his wife if she believed the women who had given evidence had been telling lies. She replied: "Total, utter rot."

But more generally, we look for a national resonance to a story. That can be the characters involved; or the story can illustrate an issue that's equally relevant outside Scotland, England, Lancashire or wherever. And sometimes its simply a cracking good story with no national resonance but one that will interest all viewers.

There have been times when we've of course not reported a local story nationally quickly enough. And I'm sure there will be more. And there will always be Scots who say news about the English and Welsh NHS is irrelevant to them and vice versa. Tricky business this.

Amanda Farnsworth is editor, Daytime News

Approaching Dunkirk?

Amanda Farnsworth | 12:52 UK time, Wednesday, 19 July 2006

Exodus - it's not a word we've really been using on the evacuation of foreign nationals from Beirut... but what we were saying was that it was akin to the evacuation from Dunkirk.

This, of course, isn't really true.

BBC One/Six O'Clock NewsWhy did we say it ? Because government minister Kim Howells made the comparison... but as our Middle East editor told us this morning, in Dunkirk around 340,000 soldiers were taken off the docks and the beaches over nine days under heavy fire - and big though the Beirut evacuation is, it's not Dunkirk.

There are so many strands to this crisis that it's hard to get the balance right between covering it comprehensively and reporting other news. There's what's going on in Beirut, what's happening in the south of Lebanon where most of the bombing is, the North of Israel where Hezbollah rockets are landing, the international efforts for a diplomatic solution and the role of the US in the region.

Some have asked if we are doing too much on the British evacuation and not enough on other aspects. We are constantly asking ourselves this question and at the moment I think we're getting it about right - but we need to keep asking.

Amanda Farnsworth is editor, Daytime News

Losing fingers

Amanda Farnsworth | 10:48 UK time, Wednesday, 28 June 2006

We had an exclusive from our medical correspondent yesterday - an interview with Ryan Wilson. He was one of the young men who reacted almost fatally to a drug being tested in a trial at Northwick Park.

BBC Six O'Clock News logoIt was a moving interview and one of the most moving things was how Ryan was very matter of fact about the reality that he will have to lose most of his fingers and toes because they've essentially died as part of his reaction to the drug.

Ryan Wilson, one of the drug trial volunteers Life goes on, he said. For us on the programme, we were again confronted with the issue of how much do we show of Ryan's injuries. In truth I didn't think this was a hard one - his hands were unbandaged, the tips of his fingers simply black, and it wasn't too unpleasant and of course the fact that he was going to undergo amputation was at the heart of the story.

His toes were covered and I am told looked far worse. But these issues - about showing strong images of injury or suffering - are the subject of continued and heated debate in the newsroom. Iraq and Gaza are just two of the stories recently where we've had to make difficult judgements. I think I shall be blogging on this subject frequently.

When news and sport collide

Amanda Farnsworth | 09:58 UK time, Tuesday, 13 June 2006

It's that time of year again where I feel a bit conflicted. As editor of Daytime News, I of course love to see long bulletins full of exciting exclusives and reports our audience wants to watch.

1and6news.jpgBut every summer at Six, we risk being bumped off to BBC Two when the inevitable Tim Henman match goes to five sets. And this summer, the World Cup means we are chopped, moved to later slots and (I'm sure) moved on to BBC Two on occasion. Heaven knows what will happen when World Cup meets Wimbledon around teatime...

Trouble is, the other part of me loves Wimbledon and I love the World Cup even more. I have my flag on my car and, I'm afraid, one on the door to my office. Hence the confliction. But then again I suspect my own internal contradictions may indeed reflect different parts of our audience - so maybe that will help me make the right decisions!

Covering the university row

Amanda Farnsworth | 11:37 UK time, Thursday, 1 June 2006

The lecturers pay dispute is certainly a hot topic in my sister's house - and I suspect in the thousands of houses up and down the country where young people are trying to graduate, and enter the job market for the first time.

1and6news.jpgSo have we covered this story enough? Well the answer is, probably, not quite.

The Six O'Clock News was the only bulletin to package the story last week, but yesterday when the pay offer was rejected both the Six and the Ten did the story in detail.

We plan to lead on it on the One today, which is the result of two things - firstly a big national demonstration that happens before 1pm and gives a good top to the story (plus new comments from employers and government). As well, it's a really quiet news day and it just looks like a decent story to put at the top of our programme.

Sometimes it's hard to gauge when to start doing a story - at what point does it cross the line and make it a "must do" for a national news bulletin? There's often a huge amount of stories all pushing for space... and sometimes we don't get that decision quite right.

Knife edge

Amanda Farnsworth | 11:54 UK time, Wednesday, 31 May 2006

"A nation of knives" scream some tabloid newspapers this morning. So we talked a lot at our editorial meetings today about what we should do, and how to approach the spate of stabbings that have become so prominent recently.

1and6news.jpgTo some extent it's true these things go in cycles. I remember the last time knife crime really ran as a story over a number of weeks was when Luke Walmsley was killed, and then inevitably other stories and events moved the issue out of the headlines.

But how do we report without just adding to the hysteria? I think the key here is context. It is a fact knife crime is on the increase - that's why the government is bringing in new laws to tackle it. But who exactly is carrying a knife? Why do they do it? And what can we do apart from bringing in new laws to combat it? It's these questions we need to answer in our coverage and not simply give a list of incidents of knife crime and essentially tell the viewers to be afraid.

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