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The role of the BBC's News blogs

Host Host | 12:01 UK time, Monday, 27 October 2008

Radio 4's Feedback programme had a discussion about some of the issues surrounding the BBC's News blogs. You can listen to the discussion below.

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  • Comment number 1.

    Thanks, Host for the blog...information

  • Comment number 2.

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

  • Comment number 3.

    great information and historical note.
    but the problem is not the blogging but the fact that moderation is unpredictable.
    as a debate system its flawed and unresponsive.
    its good and hopefully will continue.
    but in some cases going off topic is to be expected where emotions are included.
    please continue and grow.

  • Comment number 4.

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

  • Comment number 5.

    I’m never too sure with Feedback who is feeding back to who. It used to be about listener’s comments, but they have gradually been squeezed out in favour of the world according to the BBC.

  • Comment number 6.

    I think the blogs are, too often, used as forums. There is another category of web application specifically designed for that purpose: the forum!

    I have emailed PM about this but have had no response. Too many PM blog posts are just requests for comments, instead of genuine articles upon which people can choose to comment, i.e. a blog! "The Beach" and "The Furrowed Brow", etc., are perfect examples of this. Blogs really shouldn't be used as headings for pages of comments.

  • Comment number 7.

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

  • Comment number 8.

    Well clearly not all BBC bloggers are heeding the requirement for them to be impartial.

    I specifically refer to the likes of Peston and Webb when I say this. For Webb in particular the need to be controversial seems to costantly overide the need to be impartial.

  • Comment number 9.

    I thought blogs were created to encourage citizen journalism and give individuals an easy way to publish their own personal views and journals. It is a shame that blogs and other online tools which are created for people keep getting by the media. The BBC isn't the only organisation doing that, but since this is about the BBC, a few examples of how the BBC has decided to make full use of tools designed for people rather than organisations include the BBC's use of Facebook, LiveJournal (used by BBC Russian), YouTube, blogs, and podcasts. There is also an entry on this blog about the BBC having conversations with people via other social networking sites. The questions licence fee payers should ask, are why is the BBC creating pages and groups on Facebook to supplement content such as football content, then paying for the maintinence of forums such as Have Your Say and 606? Why is the BBC uploading videos to YouTube and also paying for the IPlayer so people can watch BBC content on the BBC website? How much money has been spent on the creation of the BBC's blogging platform, even though there are free platforms the BBC could have used, and why does the BBCuse its own blogging platform while also using the blogging platform LiveJournal?

  • Comment number 10.

    Why do the House Rules ban from the blogs all the things that Ross and Brand do on radio and TV? Why is the BBC inflicting foul language and obscenities on-the public but objecting to receiving the same from the public?
    Why are we not even allowed to comment on Ross and Brand?

  • Comment number 11.

    There doesn't appear to be anything about the obscene phone call Jonathan Ross Russell Brand fiasco on today's news page. An oversight, no doubt. I'm sure it will be on the blogs.

  • Comment number 12.

    The PM blog yesterday was on this topic. I guess they are still taking comments.

    I have posted complaining. It was the subject matter of their comments that I found offensive, that and they thought it a suitable subject for a message publicly left on an ansaphone. Grown men thinking and acting like 15 year olds. If strangers had made that phone call I imagine it could be classed as an obscene phone call and harassment.

    BBC blogs and HYS should be kept free of strong language. People making comments or developing an argument should be able to do so without resorting to such. All ages can also access this site.

    People swear in everyday life, I think it often overused in drama, film and comedy (often to little effect) but do not object to it per se; providing the watershed is adhered to.

    Comment 9 True, blogs started mainly from people keeping online diaries, but I see blogs as just being a more immediate (and transitory) way of publishing on the web. I do not think any one group can claim ownership of them, blogs are just electronic paper at the end of the day.

  • Comment number 13.

    Can we have a blog on "The Role of the BBC's News"?

  • Comment number 14.

    Why doesn't the BBC allow the public to start and initiate discussions? The blog system is a BBC technique of controlling what can and cannot be said. Why not open some real message boards then the BBC would discover the real concerns of British people.

  • Comment number 15.

    Dear zerozero00 (#13), the role of BBC News right now is bury bad news about Mandelson under a pile of nothing about George Osborne so that when more stuff comes out about this Russian guy - as it surely will - the public will associate the Conservatives with him.

    This is surely something that Ofcom should look into.

  • Comment number 16.

    On the whole I think the way the BBC handles blogs is reasonable. Impartiality can be subjective and considering the variety of subjects they covered, the moderators need to be on their toes.

    There are some pretty clever people around when it comes to innuendos and no small number pass as innocent comments on other boards.

    That said, the moderation system needs attention; it is far too slow to allow continuity of a thread arising between individual contributors. Moreover, it is not always clear when the subject matter is closed and one can find oneself crafting a missive unknowing it will never be published.

  • Comment number 17.

    Robinson, Preston and now Webb, the BBC must control it's journalists. The whole point of being a reporter is to report the news, not make it.

    The charges of a pro-labour/democrat bias that you are constantly facing are of your own making, take Justin Webbs US blog as an example, 99% of his posts show how biased his reporting is, never have I read such obvious bias towards one party by someone employed as the BBC's senior North American correspondent.

    No doubt you will deny any accusations of bias, yet the amount of criticism the BBC is receiving both on it's own blogs and those of others, would leave many people questioning any claims of 'impartiality'.

  • Comment number 18.

    This cross-border attack into Syria may have been arranged to help the Republican election process by fomenting trouble.

    The BBC has produced two eyewitness stories from within Syria.

    However, all I have seen is an unattributed leak from the US side.

    Any chance of getting some reporting on this?

  • Comment number 19.

    I would just like to join the the controvisey in condeming John ross & russle brand.
    I believe I am not alone in thinking that both these so called presenters are rude , in fact as a member of a large organisation I am not alone in saying, I do swich off the radio when Mr Ross comes on the radio or television.

  • Comment number 20.

    It would be in error to call HYS a "blog".

    With comptent and ethical management, it COULD become a World leader.

    That would require new leadership for WHYS.


    Justin Webb is routinely attacked by those who think that a blog is news reporting and that they can intimidate.

  • Comment number 21.

    Am I alone in thinking that the BBC world news output is very biased towards the McCain -Palin ticket and very pro -Obama ?

  • Comment number 22.

    Why does the BBC set standards for its blogs, 606 message boards and rigorously moderates the content, when it clearly has no standards or moderation on its own radio output? Can we inflict obscene and offensive material on you? And if not, why not?

  • Comment number 23.

    Fate of JB Sanyu Remains Unknown

    I am not sure why the BBC is not reporting the Fate of JB Sanyu --a well know journalists in Kigal - Rwanda

  • Comment number 24.

    The Brand/Ross matter raises again the question of whether we really need publicly funded entertainment in a multimedia society with hundreds of channels. The Beeb is probably unenthusiastic about a debate on something which could mean a drastic cut in its functions and the licence fee, soon after a Charter review. But with hard economic times ahead, perhaps we should be discussing whether the word 'entertain' should be removed from the Charter

  • Comment number 25.

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

  • Comment number 26.

    Xie Ming,

    Please stop with your anti-West rhetoric, I have read many of your other posts and your own comments are both intimidating and worthless.

  • Comment number 27.

    This is my first venture into "Blogs" -- But I feel "Enraged" by Jonathan Ross , and Russel Brand ,-- Mr Sachs , is highly respected, as a fine actor , And what I have read of him , a very kind and decent human being
    If he reads this , can I earnestly implore him , to "Go to the police" -- they won't act unless there is a complaint -- They are bound to investigate if a complaint is made -- It probably won't lead to a jail sentence for any of the two -- But a conviction , A fine , or a suspended sentence (A suspended sentence will mean a refusal , in the application for an entry visa to the U.S.A. ) -- This would permanently limit any further career prospects, this man may have in the future ?
    I would also advise the same tactics to miss Baillie , If she reads this

  • Comment number 28.

    It would be desirable to have a blog other than WHYS, so that substantive comment could pass through without the unfortunate intervention of WHYS management.


    In particular, I am concerned about the reporting of the latest American aggression into Syria:

    Are the incursions into Pakistan and Syria are election ploy, hoping for a hostile response?

    The BBC had a clip from a woman witness in a hospital bed- now, I can't find it.

    Gowan on the evening news has sunk back to a "Syria says" line.

    The BBC did send a reporter to the site today, who said next to nothing.

    Can anybody find a URL for that clip of the woman who was shot? She was talking from her hospital bed.

    The USA still has said nothing on the record.

    This smells even worse that at first!

    [I also note that Richard Perle, whose relations with Israel and whose Pentagon planning of the Iraq invasion are well known- claims that the latest American attack was justified "hot pursuit". This is the level of fact and truth one can expect from that group]

    We need some BBC fact-finding!

  • Comment number 29.

    # 26

    I am not sure that Israel is "West"- it appears to be and can claim to be sui generis.

    Certainly, friends of that nation will do everything possible to encourage attack against Mulim lands in the Mid-East.

    At the moment, we need to develop the real facts concerning the American attack in Syria.

    It is noteworthy that the USA has issued no official or attributable statement- only a backstairs comment not for attribution.

    Of course, Richard Perle has rushed to make comment in favor of such an attack against Syria.

  • Comment number 30.

    As to BBC blogs in general: When intelligently moderated, they are a very positive and innovative force.

    I would be disappointed if an employee, providing a blog, thought that his own views should be constrained. Blogs are not reporting.

    The quality and interest of the BBC blogs varies greatly. One measure is the average daily number of comments posted. Another, subjective, measure would be the quality of the comments attracted.

    On both counts, Justin Webb's blog does very well.

    I dropped WHYS several months ago and have no idea of whether they have new management and have improved.

  • Comment number 31.

    BBC headline "Hailstorm sparks 'absolute chaos'"

    Can the BBC fire this headline writer and hire one with a better understanding of English ?? Hailstorms do not "spark" !! How about using "cause", or is that too weak and unsensationally ??

    Are you vying with the red-bannered best-selling dailies for the most sensational headlines ?? If so, where are your Page Three girls, then ??

  • Comment number 32.

    There are several problems with the blogs in their current form:

    1 - Its not clearly stated that the blogs are merely personal opinion and comment, rather than news.
    This should be in BIG letters at the top of every blog. That way half of the comments on every post might not be complaining about percieved bias.

    2 - The moderation system really doesn't work very well. Not sure how it could be improved, but it causes major problems.

    3 - the comments system doesn't allow for replies. Some form of threaded, rated comment system is desperately needed. (see digg, lifehacker, etc..)
    This would allow direct replies, and keep replies sorted into topics.

    4 - Its not really clearly defined what the purpose of the blogs is. Many of the posts are useful, but a few come across as filler, posting for the sake of posting something.

    Personally, I like the posts that talk about behind the scenes processes, and give me some insight into how the bbc (or the wider press, or the political parties) are thinking.
    The posts asking for feedback don't seem very effective, as this isn't an effective medium for feedback.

  • Comment number 33.

    Last night on the 10 'clock News approximately 10 minutes was devoted to the Ross/Brand episode... (a self-referential and self-indulgent exercise if ever there was one), then there was the deplorable goings on in the Congo, then an item on the US election, then another Labour party political broadcast curtesy Nick Robinson on the Glenrothes by-eleection.

    I was waiting patiently for an item on the Marine Lance Corporal Matthew Croucher, receiving his George Cross from the Queen for his outstanding heroism in taking the full blast of a grenade to shield his fellow Marines, but it wasn't considered newsworthy.

    I notice all present on news desks wear their poppies, but real soldiers aren't featured. BBC your values are showing.

  • Comment number 34.

    Last night on the 10 'clock News approximately 10 minutes was devoted to the Ross/Brand episode... (a self-referential and self-indulgent exercise if ever there was one), then the deplorable goings on in the Congo, then an item on the US election, then another Labour party political broadcast courtesy Nick Robinson on the Glenrothes by-eleection.

    I was waiting patiently for an item on the Marine Lance Corporal Matthew Croucher, receiving his George Cross from the Queen for his outstanding heroism in taking the full blast of a grenade to shield his fellow Marines, but it wasn't considered newsworthy.

    I notice all present on news desks wear their poppies, but real soldiers and acts of heroism aren't featured. BBC your values are showing or would be if you had any.

  • Comment number 35.


    There should be no room for personal opinion from the BBC when reporting anything.

    They have an obligation under the BBC charter to be fair, open and impartial YET opinions are very rarely any of these.

    A case in point are the blogs of the reporters covering the US Election. These blogs are almost whole heartedly slanted in Obama's favour (Im talking about 99% in favour of Obama).

    While we have endless stories from Webb about the train wreck that Palin is, not once has Webb bothered to look in to the very real deliberate credit card fraud being conducted by the Obama campaign.

    To counter criticism of his bias, webb recently linked to an article on the Pyjamas media website (instead of his usual Huffpo, a blatantly left wing organisation), but the only problem is...the article he linked was talking about why McCain will lose the election!

    Unless of course I missed something and he was merely pointing out what an impartial news source looks like? ;0

    Looking through all of the journalists covering the elections blogs, none of them have gone after Obama with the same zeal that they have gone after McCain and Palin.

    However, the real problem as I see it is that the BBC through its reporters is now reporting their opinion as the news.

    #30, Xie_Ming,

    I of course respectfully disagree with you. The quality of moderation leaves some room for improvement, especially when you read through any of the election blogs and see defamatory and libellous comments about Palin and McCain regularly posted through their blogs.

    Complaints about those postings are universally ignored BUT as soon as you question the BBC as a trustworthy source of information on the election, your posting gets pulled and you are warned about making libellous comments.

    You know, people like to kick Fox for being a rightwing propganda site...but there is a reason they have been voted the most trusted news outlet in America. Its because they allow proponents from both sides of an argument to have their say.

    Something for the BBC to mull over perhaps?



  • Comment number 36.

    # 35

    The statement concerning Fox News is certainly unique!

    Concerning BBC blogs- it is an interesting innovation and in great contrast to the unfortunate situation obtaining in America, where most is facade and manipulated in the media.

    I personally hope that the BBC blogs continue to expand and develop naturally.

    At some point, more deletions by moderators will be required.

  • Comment number 37.

    I just wonder why people mention the BBC charter.

    We in the UK take it on trust and in faith that the BBC tells the truth.

    The BBC is more important to us than church and government, we trust the BBC.

    The BBC is our natural expression, no matter how funded in this money oriented society.

    It is only the infiltration of the BBC my those who owe more to money than truth that upsets the balence.

    The BBC may well wish to be a commercial success but at what cost?

    Do we realy have to loose faith?

  • Comment number 38.

    # 37

    "The BBC is our natural expression, no matter how funded, in this money-oriented society.

    It is only the infiltration of the BBC by those who owe more to money than truth that upsets the balence.."

    Well said!!

  • Comment number 39.

    I can longer pay for BBC's upkeep but I have a solution of my own.

    Although BBC has been urged by ministers to end the culture of “fat cat” pay for top presenters or risk cuts to its £3.4 billion a year of public funding, I do not believe they will do anything to jeopardize their life style bestowed upon them by successive governments.

    BBC's nepotistic and parasitic culture must be brought to end. While disadvantaged group are suffering BBC management is enjoying royalist insular status at their cost. This must end!

    First step ought to be to exempt all over 65s from licence payment, next reduce the BBC tax over the next 3 years gradually to nil payment (just to give BBC chance to adjust to the realities of the world) and then SELL it off to highest bidder and disperse the proceed to improve our infrastructure and open couple of hospitals.

  • Comment number 40.

    his is my comment to the BBC HYS which was published and has now been rejected, can anyone tell me why?.

    Has BBC taken right action over calls row?SENT:02-Nov-2008 10:56
    COMMENT:Over the last week the BBC has stumbled from one scandal to the next, first we had the BBC ignoring the Mandelson story whilst going on the attack against Osbourne.

    We then had Nick Robinson and your economic reporter getting themselves into trouble for their obvious pro-Labour bias in reporting the story (quite why your economic reporter got involved is beyond me).

    Next we have Brand and Ross behaving disgracefully, yet the BBC did nothing until the public pressure became to much.
    COMMENT STATUS: Rejected
    Unimpressed | 02.11.08 - 11:11 am | #

  • Comment number 41.

    I like these blogs, one can say what one means in more than 500 letters.

    I guess it means you have to read long diatribes and rants ..but that is not so bad.

    I do detect a certain parocialism amongst the most prominent posters, but what the heck, this is life.

    At the end of the day yopu put your stall aout and say the Manchester's The Arsenal's and most folk fall asleep immediately.

    That was a joke btw :-)

  • Comment number 42.

    I dont think the BBC take too much notice of the comments posted , in the past week 90% of the people commenting on the phone scandal have been calling for Ross's sacking . Have the bbc taken any notice? not at all.

  • Comment number 43.

    The Ross/Brand incident has exposed a deep resentment amongst the viewers of the BBC who reacted in such an enormous number, that rolled out over a period of several days after the story made the national press. The knee-jerk reactions from the self interested partisans protective of an institution which does them well, laying accusations against the protesters of mob rule, bullying tactics against the BBC management etc. have, I think, are missing a profound undercurrent which will eventually have to be faced.
    An incident like this is a good vehicle from which to launch the long pent up emotions felt by a great number of licence payers who think, probably justifiably, that they don't get value for their money. The general standard of the BBC has dropped over a lengthy period of time, and instead of being cutting edge leading the field in quality as it once did has relinquished that roll in favour of more and more tabloid standard low level light entertainment. Much can be said, but little will be done unless the BBC can be persuaded that its interests will be better served returning to more quality output for those for whom the BBC was once an icon for which the licence money was worth paying.
    Perhaps it would be worthwhile considering a licence payers forum open to all who would wish to join in order to vet the management of the institution and give a voice to the viewers in general which can be raised when ludicrous and outrageous decisions are made with regards to policies and resources etc.
    It is obvious that the BBC Dirty Dozens set up to rubber stamp the executive decisions which are at the root of the present fiasco are pretty worthless as a means of serving the viewers interests and need to be replaced. replaced

  • Comment number 44.

    A child dies in North London and carers are convicted of foul play.Why does no one challenge the Government who are upping the Court fees to stop Local Authorities taking Children's cases to Court

  • Comment number 45.

    I use to support the relationship between the usa and the uk but after the release of the murder of lockabe by your government.

    I feel that you have totally distroyed that relationship and not strained it.

    Face it you have ruined the relationship between the usa and the uk by this move.

    You know nothing of justice you have most diffently distroyed any relationship you have with the america public.

    Our leaders are soft in the reaction about this we the people have a much deeper feeling then is being said to you.

    You are against us in every way that is what you action has showed.

    I now fully understand why we kicked you out of the usa in the revolutionary war and the war of 1812.

    i hope we hold back on trade with you as a reaction to this.

    I will personally make a effort to encourage those who might come here to site see the go to France or somewhere else.

    I hope that the usa will never support your government again in any way.

    Enjoy your oil that you get from lybia since it is why you did this discussing action. You can denie it all you want but we know what you did and will not forget it.

    Shame on you
    From a USA travel agent
    i can't wait to leave this poor excuse of a country

  • Comment number 46.

    #45: Not quite sure what brought that outburst on to this particular blog. But since it's passed the moderators, some of your comments need to be challenged.

    You know nothing of justice. Read Shakespeare, in particular Portia's speech to Shylock in Act 4, Scene 1 of The Merchant of Venice. We have known for 300 years that justice is always to be tempered with mercy, and the US would do well to remember that.

    You are against us in every way. Oh, right. So we won't support you in Grenada, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan... Or make our sovereign territory available to you (Diego Garcia, RAF Greenham Common...)

    I hope that the usa will never support your government again in any way you did with the Falklands. With friends like that, who needs enemies? The "Special Relationship" does seem to be rather one-way at the moment.

    Enjoy your oil that you get from lybia ...who also exports to the US. George W Bush lifted the embargo on imports from Libya in September 2004. And I suppose you advocate sanctions against the likes of Switzerland, too, which imports half of its domestic oil from Libya.

    i can't wait to leave this poor excuse of a country Er, well, given your views, the feeling may be mutual. Bon voyage anyway.

    While I don't believe this post breaks the House Rules, I'm not going to continue any debate in this blog.

  • Comment number 47.

    Thanks, Host; For the role of BBC Blogs and for the informative decisions that are available....

    =Dennis Junior=

  • Comment number 48.

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


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