Information from Burma
With the Burmese authorities clamping down on information getting out of the country, we - like other news organisations - have been relying more than ever on what people caught up in the events are telling us.
We’ve been publishing text, pictures, audio and video from people who’ve contacted the BBC News website and the BBC’s Burmese service. We’ve also been looking at other sites and blogs which are tracking the events - though this has become harder in the past 24 hours.
But is this any different from the traditional role of a newsdesk – or an editor for that matter? I think there are some things which have changed. Here are a few to start with:
- • The newsgathering function suddenly has to broaden out to incorporate a lot more new potential sources.
- • Major time and effort gets channelled into following up emails we’ve been sent, checking them out, contacting people back and getting their accounts published and on air.
- • The relationship with these new sources needs handling with special care – they’ve got in touch to tell their story - we can’t put them at risk or expect them to be on permanent stand-by as interviewees.
- • Journalists have to learn where else online to look for new information as it surfaces, as well as what to make of it and how to use it.
Maybe the list could be longer. But on the other hand, some things don’t change much. We still want to set these accounts in context - verifying information where we can and checking it against other sources, qualifying and attributing it where we can’t - and for this we still rely on our correspondents, regional experts and basic editorial judgement.