BBC BLOGS - The Editors
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Welcome

Helen Boaden | 08:00 UK time, Monday, 26 June 2006

Welcome to The Editors, a new blog written by editors from across the range of BBC News outlets - TV, radio and interactive - about their issues, dilemmas, and highs (and lows) they face in doing their jobs. From Newsround to Newsnight, via everything from Radio One Newsbeat to the BBC News website, we hope all areas of BBC News will be represented here.

We are committed to being impartial, fair and accurate - these are the qualities which BBC News is rightly expected to uphold. But we also want to be open and accountable, and while this is nothing new (my colleagues and I are quite used to appearing on Newswatch on News 24 and Feedback on Radio 4), we are hoping this blog will be a fresh way of having a direct conversation with you, our audiences.

But of course the real strength of blogs is that they can be a conversation - which is where you come in. Tell us your views, either by adding your comments at the bottom of individual entries, or by e-mailing us directly. We want to know what you think.

Comments

  • 1.
  • At 01:00 PM on 26 Jun 2006,
  • Adam wrote:

What a splendid idea! One of the reasons why I, and no doubt many others, have come to have a total distrust of anything I read in the newspapers is the total lack of accountability that most papers have when it comes to telling the truth.

Allowing your readers to have their feedback in a forum like this strikes me as one of the best ways of increasing accountability and ultimately making the BBC a trusted source of news.

I just hope that you are serious about it and will be posting all comments on your blogs, no matter how critical they are of the BBC, and more importantly acting on any valid criticisms of the way you do things.

  • 2.
  • At 01:11 PM on 26 Jun 2006,
  • John Russell wrote:

The strength of blogs may be in their level of interactivity but only if the contributions from both sides are worthwhile. Too often a well-intentioned blog descends into trivia or suffers fatal recursion (where the discussion becomes a blog about blogs, and then a blog about blogs about blogs).

Make it worth reading and we'll read it.

Having been reckless enough to have published well over a hundred of my naive pearls of wisdom, you should already have some idea of my views.

Wishing you success with 'The Editors' project.

  • 4.
  • At 02:15 PM on 26 Jun 2006,
  • Stuart Reynolds wrote:

If the comments are structured and relevant and free from the usual flame wars and meaningless comments with even more meaningless replies, then I welcome the chance to feedback observations about the BBC - which despite adverse comments from some quarters is still, generally, the best around.

On the question of user interaction though - and this might more rightly be a topic in it's own right - I do think that live user comments on News 24 (and other programmes) have killed off any desire that I have to watch the programme. Give me intelligent, considered analysis rather than on-the-hoof reaction from the pubic (or, indeed, on-the-hoof reaction from reporters who ought to know better). I did manage to hear a phone interview once with a woman who was in the thick of it - on being asked what she could see, she replied that she couldn't actually see anything, because she was inside her house! Brilliant.

I'll watch with interest, though, to see how this develops.

  • 5.
  • At 02:37 PM on 26 Jun 2006,
  • Peter Stock wrote:

"Comments are modrated, and will not appear on this weblog until the auther has approved them"

In other words, the blog will be as rigorously censored and politically correct as the rest of the BBC.

There are enough uncensored blogs out there as real sources of information. The BBC version is just a waste of time.

  • 6.
  • At 02:48 PM on 26 Jun 2006,
  • Andy Carrie wrote:

An excellent plan - I live in the States now and the BBC is by far the only unbiased (in my opinion) news that I can get my hands on. Living under the cloud of "Complete Nonsense News" it has been difficult over the last few years to get a global feel for what is really happening out there. The BBC provides me with the real picture, not the scare mongering tactics of media over here.
Giving us the opportunity to discuss these events can only be a good thing.

I wish you all luck with this.

  • 7.
  • At 03:16 PM on 26 Jun 2006,
  • Mike Humberston wrote:

Helen Boaden hopes that: "this blog will be a fresh way of having a direct conversation with you, our audiences".

Judging by the other BBC blogs that I read from time to time, that is extremely unlikely to happen. The typical format for a BBC blog is that a journalist or editor posts a short article and then the readers post their responses. If they are lucky the BBC may inlude their responses on the web page but my experience is that responders are more likely to be unlucky as the BBC seem committed to strict censorship; one wonders why.

Thus the BBC scores pretty low marks in its use of blogs as a means of having a conversation with its listeners and readers. Fixing this problem would be far more valuable than creating yet another BBC blog.

Mike

  • 8.
  • At 03:29 PM on 26 Jun 2006,
  • dmatr wrote:

Here's my questions:

1. What power have you got?
2. Where did you get it from?
3. In whose interests do you exercise it?
4. To whom are you accountable?
5. How do we get rid of you?

  • 9.
  • At 03:36 PM on 26 Jun 2006,
  • s.h wrote:

fair and accurate you really are having a laugh (at my expense)
your a left wing organ for bleeding
heart's a card carrying marxist's wet
dream.the tele's version of the gaurdian or independent.

  • 10.
  • At 04:07 PM on 26 Jun 2006,
  • David Hewson wrote:

No offence to Andy Carrie, but how come he (from the US) has access to the BBC online entertainment services that I am paying for (and he presumably isn't)? It seems that the rest of the world can get the BBC services for free whilst I (in the UK) have to stump up £130 per year. Not very fair.

The power of blogging per se is that it deconstructs the author/audience heirarchy. An author who believes he is "blogging" from a priviledged position is merely pontificating.

The first problem with this "blog" is that to be meaningful a blog needs to engage in public soul-searching, something it seems to me that editors are the least likely people on the planet to do considering that it is anathema to their entire raison de etre. (Of course, if they would remove the word "objective" from their vocabulary, it would help a great deal.)

But the larger problem for this blog is that it misses the point entirely from the standpoint of the reader and media hegemony. For the reader, a blog concerning a media channel should be authored by the correspondents - precisely because it would subvert the editorial function.


  • 12.
  • At 04:29 PM on 26 Jun 2006,
  • Eyes Closed Tightly wrote:

I agree with Andy. What took you so long?

  • 13.
  • At 05:49 PM on 26 Jun 2006,
  • Jack Oatmon wrote:

I love the BBC as much as the next guy. It's my prefered online news source, in fact, but I can't help but object to the use of the words "impartial and fair" in your blog. "Accurate", I'll give you. Actually, maybe this blog will be a chance for you editors at the BBC to realize just how partial and slanted your coverage sometimes can be. I always get the feeling that the BBC is fulfilling the "set agenda" gestahlt a little unwittingly. I'll give you an example I borrowed from Gwynne Dyer which works very well in locating biased coverage. Count the percentage of stories on the 'front page' that are about muslims doing violent things, and compare it to either the relative population of muslims in the world, or the violent crime rates per capita, per locale.
Kudos for starting the blog. Maybe it will be a small start to getting the BBC off the sensationalizing train. Oh, yeah, by the way, from blogger to blogger, moderated comments are a taboo.
Jack Oatmon

  • 14.
  • At 06:05 PM on 26 Jun 2006,
  • Tim Dennell wrote:

I think you are very brave.
(It may be worth calling this a 'beta' to see how it pans out.)

The last year has made me realise that a journalist’s job has become a lot more demanding; by adding a blog plus glancing at comments onto the job of researching and writing/presenting pieces.
I wish you luck.

PS Hope you have a thick skin and an arrogant streak. You may need it to deal with some of the comments on a bad day!

Peter Stock:

There are many blogs in the blogosphere that screen reader comments prior to allowing them to go live. You clearly have not read many blogs that often post controversial content, and are open to abusive readers. These blog authors have a right to reduce the amount of unwarranted and irrational abuse that gets hurled at them.

I have had to close comments on my blog on issues you wouldn't think are controversial, since my blog is about videogames. But I have been called all sorts of stupid things because I have an opinion, but the abusive commenters have nothing to post except for insults.

"Make it worth reading and we'll read it," says John Russell in an earleir comment here.

I say: "Make it worth reading and I'll join the conversation."

Congratulations, an excellent move!

  • 17.
  • At 12:09 AM on 27 Jun 2006,
  • Roy Lent wrote:

Helen Boaden,

I live in Costa Rica and the BBC e-mail news is my news source in the morning. Why the BBC? Because I feel that it is more factual and less swayed by political and commercial pressure as to news reporting.

I congratulate the BBC on its new blog and thought I'd add my voice to the what will surely be a wave of comments. The design of this blog seems to be to allow comments on what is selected for main stream news. But if the comments are to be "cherry picked" or "high graded" to only publish a selection that some editor feels is worthy, then it's not really a blog, is it? It is just another carefully screened letter column.

I read blogs mainly to get news and comments on subjects of interest to me that are not reported on by the main stream media. My specific interests being: sustainable communities, free thought & humanism vs. religion, and alternative energy. Naturally, these are little reported on by the principal media. I will follow the developments of this concept carefully with hopes of seeing something new.

  • 18.
  • At 02:17 AM on 27 Jun 2006,
  • Andrew Wood wrote:

Dear David

The BBC's guilty secret is that outside the UK its TV channels are funded by advertising and subscription -- options that the British public are unlikely to be offered.

BBC World and Prime TV channels are not free here in Singapore. We can only see them on cable, and must pay for them. And they have adverts.

But BBC World Service radio is free on FM here (paid for by the British taxpayer via the Foreign Office).

Interesting concept, I guess this should work well for you guys given the importance of the 'open and accountable' angle, well, perhaps...

Am not sure if there's much demand / opportunity for commercial publishers to do the same though.. so far I guess there's the Guardian: http://tinyurl.com/ha8fv

Any other sources / similar projects you're drawing inspiration from or that people know of?

  • 20.
  • At 07:19 AM on 27 Jun 2006,
  • Al wrote:

Bravo.

  • 21.
  • At 03:55 AM on 28 Jun 2006,
  • Mary, USA wrote:

Sign of the times Helen, welcome to the next realm. I am confident that one of the worlds most respected journalistic organizations will use this new medium in ways to enhance communication and explore topics and perspectives and not exploit the medium in anyway. Blogs are begining to be recognized as a really limitless marketing tool, but should they be? Or should they be coveted and nurtured to blossom into something we have yet to imagine.
Welcome to the sphere of tomorrow, today Helen. Welcome all you bbc guys and gals across the pond, here in the states and stationed all around our planet.
Thank you all for picking up the ball. Is there any hope for us news junkies now?

  • 22.
  • At 09:32 PM on 28 Jun 2006,
  • Aaron D wrote:

In response to David Hewson's complaint above:

No offence to Andy Carrie, but how come he (from the US) has access to the BBC online entertainment services that I am paying for (and he presumably isn't)? It seems that the rest of the world can get the BBC services for free whilst I (in the UK) have to stump up £130 per year. Not very fair.

Neither Andy nor myself, nor anyone else in the United States, has any meaningful access to BBC "online entertainment services". The vast majority of it is firewalled by the BBC; unless you access the BBC website via a British broadband ISP, your options are limited indeed, and few of them qualify as "entertainment".

Here's what those of us outside the UK are allowed to access online from the BBC:

1) NO BBC television whatsoever, with the exception of news programming, and even that is sent at such a low bitrate (34kbps for audio and video combined) that it is essentially unwatchable. If you think we get those 1.5Mbps BBC1 and BBC2 feeds, you're wrong.

2) BBC Radios 1 through 7, at bit rates far below those offered to British citizens. They are all of acceptable quality for occasional listening, but the best of them are no more than 56kbps. And there has been speculation of the BBC cutting back even these offerings.

3) The regular text-and-pictures-only sections of the BBC websites. And there has been continuous talk for years about putting advertising on those sites for those viewers outside the UK; I presume it's only a matter of time before this takes place, at least on the BBC News site.

For the record, there are plenty of us in the United States and around the world that have long offered to pay some sort of limited "license fee" for subscription access to BBC radio and television online at reasonable bit rates. But in typical BBC bureaucratic fashion, they've refused to ever consider this concept.

We do have Internet access to the World Service (again, at mediocre bitrates), and a number of public radio stations in the US simulcast World Service news for an hour or two per day. For those of us who subscribe to Sirius Satellite Radio, we do get BBC Radio 1, for which the BBC is directly paid out of our $12.95/month subscription fee. Those of us with Sirius and XM Satellite Radio also get 24-hour World Service feeds, for which the BBC again receives direct payments from our monthly fees.

That is it.

There have been some interesting articles on this blog already but please could you honour the principle of choice or the reader by providing a full RSS feed instead of just an excerpt?

  • 24.
  • At 11:18 PM on 02 Jul 2006,
  • Andy Carrie wrote:

No offence taken David Hewson.

But as Andrew Woods pointed out - we do pay for our service here in the States and the BBC is recieving advertising revenue from outside of the UK.

I know that there has been talk in the past of charging for internet access to the BBC - unfortunately that would kill this service - there are just too many reputedley good news services that do not charge for access. Doing so would serve no other purpose than to make this news site turn into a waste land.

Oh and I did pay my telly licence for 20 years before I moved to the States.

  • 25.
  • At 06:01 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • William wrote:

The BBC is not impartial. One only has to look between the lines of the news to see the BBC's take on opposition parties like the Conservatives or the BNP. In fact the BBC is very good at slinging mud at people's feet yet when it's thrown back as it is here, the BBC is hypocritical.

Your blog, to me, is not a blog. It's on a BBC web server, on a company you work for. Neither is the substance of this material convincing, for it centres around your apparent preference to take serious issues and turn them into hypothetical scenarios in order to cover your own backs.

That's not impartial - and you being the Director of News obviously have influence on the material being broadcast. Your corporation is a reflection of your views: belittling to those who question it.

  • 26.
  • At 06:05 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • William wrote:

This blog fails to engage beyond becoming over-defensive of the fact that not just the media, is questioning the BBC's take on impartiality. The BBC is no stranger to civil action.

This blog is propaganda. I hate what the BBC has become..propoganda for the globalists, the capitalists, the politicians. Saying that the media in general is the same is no defence either. I see little if willingness to engage in this blog beyond spinning facts to suit one's own(?) agenda.

  • 27.
  • At 06:11 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • William wrote:

Most of the links you used in your blog direct you to BBC content. I don't call that impartial. I don't consider this blog impartial, to me, it's a front for the corporation you work for. I'd have more respect if you were at leat more honest.

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