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Updated editorial guidelines

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Steve Herrmann Steve Herrmann | 16:33 UK time, Friday, 9 October 2009

This week, the BBC Trust published updated editorial guidelines for BBC programme makers, producers and journalists.

For the first time, the public is being asked to comment on them in draft form before they are finalised. BBC staff will also be consulted, by our Editorial Policy department, on their attitudes to the new draft.

One of the issues they cover, picked up by the Guardian's James Robinson, is writing for the web.

The new draft, also for the first time, fully integrates the original editorial guidelines and the (formerly separate) ones for Online.

The new guidelines state that nothing should be written online that would not be said on air:

4.4.13 Presenters, reporters and correspondents are the public face and voice of the BBC - they can have a significant impact on perceptions of our impartiality. Journalists and presenters, including those in news and current affairs, may provide professional judgements, rooted in evidence, but may not express personal views on public policy, on matters of political or industrial controversy, or on 'controversial<br />
subjects' in any other area. Our audiences should not be able to tell from BBC programmes or other BBC output the personal prejudices of our journalists and presenters on such matters. This applies as much to online content as it does to news bulletins: nothing should be written by journalists and presenters that would not be said on air.

It's perhaps worth explaining that it is already the case that all output, whether in text, audio or video, must comply with the BBC's existing editorial guidelines.

The first page of the existing guidelines says:

The BBC Editorial Guidelines are a statement of the values and standards we have set for ourselves over the years. They also codify the good practice we expect from the creators and makers of all BBC content, whether it is made by the BBC itself or by an Independent company working for the BBC and whether it is made for: radio; television; online; mobile devices; interactive services; the printed word. As different technologies evolve, these guidelines apply to our content whoever produces it and however it is received.

So the new guidelines are really spelling out, in the impartiality section, a principle which has long been enshrined in the BBC's editorial code.

As far as blogging goes, as we've launched each new reporter's blog on the BBC News site over the past few years, we've positively encouraged new recruits to the blogs to write informally, to respond to comments and just generally be themselves.

But we've also stressed that there's still a framework of editorial standards they must work within.

Sometimes we point out it's not much different from a "two-way", a broadcast interview with the reporter, where they answer a few questions from the studio to convey the latest on a story, and their analysis. Think Radio 5 Live, or John Simpson being quizzed by Huw Edwards on the Ten O' Clock news.

This informality translates well to blogs - and indeed to Twitter (as Laura Kuenssberg has been proving in the past few weeks of reporting from the party conferences).

Our news blogs, like our online news stories, are checked by a second journalist before publication.

For Laura's Twitter reports, we've applied "live broadcast" principles - for live news broadcasting, the rule is that it is monitored by an editorial figure as it goes out, normal editorial rules apply, and any mistakes should be swiftly and openly corrected.

Going back to the new draft guidelines, it's also worth pointing out that the "not saying online what you wouldn't say on air" principle works equally the other way round.

When Nick Robinson in an inadvertent slip on air this week referred to David Cameron as the prime minister, he was able to flag the mistake and set things straight in his blog.

If you want to read through the guidelines yourself rather than relying on media reports, and if you want to say what you think about any aspect of them - they are here in full, with feedback form. And of course, you can comment below too.

Steve Herrmann is editor of the BBC News website.


  • Comment number 1.

    Hmmm... This is fair enough BUT how does this affect output such as 'From Our Own Correspondent' ? Of course, in most cases any 'written' output from this 'online' will be on the webpage of the programme and so it will be clear that this is 'comment' rather than 'news' and different values will apply.

    But I do hope this is not going to emasculate the excellent blogs of Mark Mardell, Robin Lustig, Paul Mason, Michael Crick, Stephanie Flanders and Betsan Powys.

  • Comment number 2.

    Also, I wouldn't worry unduly about any compliance problems on BBCLauraK - it is a bit bland to be honest. It could do with a bit of 'sexing up' to be honest, but no doubt would then fall foul of these compliance guidelines if it got a bit too 'gossipy'.

  • Comment number 3.

    But the BBC pass personal opinions about major and controversial subjects all the time – I mean most hours of most days on all outlets.

    The BBC's Mark Urban on 22nd September 2009 wrote (on the subject of the U.S. government):

    '…it's easy to portray the new administration as weak, but really it simply has to accept the waning power of the US'

    What right has the BBC to tell the U.S. government what to think or how to behave? This is opinionated, judgemental and, of course, controversial. All the things the BBC journalism is not supposed to be according to its own guidelines.

    And while we are on guidelines, what gives you the right to even consider breaking UK law?

    'There may be occasions where providing accurate, impartial and fair coverage in the public interest involves possible conflict with the law...any proposal to break the law must be referred to a senior editorial figure...'

    ...say the BBC editorial guidelines.

    If a law is preventing proper reporting then why don't you lobby an MP to have it changed like the rest of us have to?

    This is simply an outrage. If you are ready to consider breaking the law then that might explain why you break your own guidelines.

    Perhaps, in between encouraging your colleagues to respond to comments, you would care to respond to this one.

  • Comment number 4.

    "What right has the BBC to tell the U.S. government what to think or how to behave? This is opinionated, judgemental and, of course, controversial. All the things the BBC journalism is not supposed to be according to its own guidelines."

    Oh, grow up KennethM. If anything the BBC reporting is too bland. 'Flat Earth News' bemoans this obsession with 'one the hand, but on the other' fake impartiality and 'balance' which doesn't actually tell us a thing.

    I understand why Paxman gets upset with the lack of balance now on the climate change debate, and maybe a bit more of a searching analysis is required - but if the balance of the debate amongst scientists has moved to a consensus, if not unanimity, then the Beeb should be able to offer opinions and 'what-if' analysis based upon that.

  • Comment number 5.

    Is this a joke?

  • Comment number 6.

    Fortuitously our comments do not have to adhere to these standards though.

    Phew !!

  • Comment number 7.

    #4 lordBeddGelert Bland you say?

    If you mean reporting that has no flavour then I am all for that.

    There is a gap in the market for news reporting that consists of straight facts with no angle, no spin, no bias. The BBC should be fulfilling that role.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think that most journalists at the BBC are superb whether it be Mark Urban, Nick Robinson or Jeremy Paxman.

    The problem we have is that they do not just report the news. They comment on the news. The BBC comments on the news. This obviously has an effect on many of us who see and hear it.

    This insistence on passing its opinions onto us has the effect of (i) leaving the BBC open to almost constant accusations of bias; (ii) ensuring our politicians become increasingly BBC-friendly therefore leaving the electorate with a Hobson’s as party managers worry about what verdict Nick Robinson will pass on the 10 O’Clock News each night

    A diversity of journalistic opinions spread across the media is one thing. Concentrated within a publicly funded organisation with 50% of broadcast media share and a dominant presence on line is extremely damaging to democracy and I believe has already damaged our country. What these journos say on the BBC often becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. What they leave out or demote is also part of the problem. The only time we are free of it is for a few weeks at election time. This is the only time when 25 minutes of a news programme consists of 25 minutes of news instead of 12 minutes of news and 13 minutes of the world according to the BBC.

    As far as putting two sides of a story then there is no reason why the microphones and cameras can not be put in front of the participants. Let us hear the actual arguments and counter arguments rather than the BBC version. If they quote sources let them do it verbatim

    I would like to see the BBC as a sanctuary for unfettered facts where there does not need to be a debate about balance. I would even go as far as suggest that running order and time allocation be made using a predetermined formula.

    I agree that these journalists should be much freer to salt and pepper their output as they wish. But not on the BBC.

  • Comment number 8.

    Here is a puzzle. There is nothing in the Charter or Memorandum which mentions impartiality. The word used is 'balance' The only ideological requirement is that the BBC should support 'democracy' Could somebody please explain why we continue to talk about impartiality as the sacred cow (wait.. is "sacred cow' impartial....?)

    It just like the misleading term 'license payers'. The BBC hold the money for the license payers to serve anyone in the uk who uses or is a potential user of BBC services. This is in BBC language is 'the audience' and potential audience.

    I don't have two votes because I have two licenses and those who only listen have a radio receiver are equally entitled to be served and to have a view and communicate it to the BBC Management and Trust.

    This is what the Trust told me. So can we stop the obfuscation now please!

  • Comment number 9.

    7. At 8:52pm on 09 Oct 2009, KennethM wrote:
    "There is a gap in the market for news reporting that consists of straight facts with no angle, no spin, no bias. The BBC should be fulfilling that role."


    I would love one source of news that is not some form of propaganda ministry for the taleban or anti-war movement or the 'environment' (Other people will pick different issues to be agitated about, but the principle applies)

    Lets have straight, no message reporting.

    If they want spirited opinion pieces that would also be great - so long as it is clearly labelled as that. I don't have a problem with the journalists taking a position on these blogs for example.

  • Comment number 10.


    Try it. 'Not because it is easy, but because it is hard'. Not to mention a tad more professional.

    And because, until you do, all the reports, guidelines, etc will remain as unique in the credibility stakes along with the broadcast media they are transmitted along.


  • Comment number 11.

    I have been concerned for some time that the political bias of interviewers has become more apparent and brazen bringing impartiality of some 'chair people' into considerable doubt.

    Indeed, it has now become an intergral part of any watching/listening process to any C/A or social programme to know where the anchor person is coming from.

    I am in the position now of being able to guess most of them.

  • Comment number 12.

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

  • Comment number 13.

    One of the issues they cover, picked up by the Guardian's James Robinson, is writing for the web.

    Why does the BBC keep giving the Guardian and its journalist free advertising on its website?. I am fed up with the constant use of Guardian and The Independent journalists to 'debate' news stories on the BBC. This must be a clear breach of the BBCs editorial guidelines, does the BBC not realise that 95% of the population who purchase newspapers do not buy the Guardian or Independent?.

  • Comment number 14.

    KennethM - Okay, you have a point. But 'just the facts' without any jot of interpretation does not really work for me. Just saying what the increase in the level of CO2 in the atmosphere is without any comment about the views of scientists about what the implications might be doesn't [to me] seem to be telling the whole story.

    Of course there is a wider debate about whether the BBC should simply tell 'both sides of the story' as the Independent of old USED to do. Or what the BBC should reflect when, say, 80% of scientists think that AGW is 'man made'. Or, say, that 20% of scientists only think there is a 50% chance that global warming is man-made. Or whatever.

    But not offering any kind of analysis of the facts would be a minefield in the middle east where 'facts' and 'words' are loaded with all sorts of prejudice in any event.

    I'm sure 'Medialens' have lots more to say about this and 'correcting the distortion', but I will allow them to speak for themselves. In any case at least the BBC isn't permanently looking over its shoulders at advertisers like BA, Shell and Tesco to avoid upsetting them, which is something. Newspapers don't give just the facts unspun anyway - so I'm not sure why you are singling the BBC out for complaint - or possibly you just think that in this privileged position they should be as different from corporate media as possible. That is a principled position.

    But do we really want a British version of US NPR which might be great, but like C-Span doesn't have much influence ?

  • Comment number 15.

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

  • Comment number 16.

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

  • Comment number 17.

    "For the first time, the public is being asked to comment on them in draft form before they are finalised."

    I tried doing this on the relevant "Have Your Say" and despite the very short censorship queue, an entire day passed and the BBC were not able to get my post up before the debate was hastily closed. Making sure certain posts stay at the bottom of the pile and then hastily closing the debate seems to be standard practice with "Have Your Say".

    My (unpublished/censored) post was as follows...

    "Lord Reith, founder of the BBC, infamously said 'They know they can trust us not to be really impartial.'

    He was right. Take a look at at Robert Parsons' BBC Report "Eyewitness: Grozny's ruined lives" to witness the fist shaking anger that is only permitted in the case of official enemies. He asks what right the Russians have to bomb Grozny. Can you imagine the BBC asking what right the US had to bomb Fallujah? It's almost laughable."

    "So the new guidelines are really spelling out, in the impartiality section, a principle which has long been enshrined in the BBC's editorial code."

    The BBC's interpretation of impartiality is very bizarre indeed. For example, protesters at the recent protests in Iran were described as courteous (see with Iranian use of batons described as "wildly swinging wooden batons at anyone in their path" (see

    Contrast this with the BBC's G20 report where wildly swinging batons are instead described simply as "scuffles" between police and protesters (see We know from miles of film footage that UK riot police have indeed engaged in the wild swinging of batons, but the BBC would never use those words.

    During those Iran protests a young woman, Neda Agha-Soltan, was shot by the authorities. The BBC had many full page articles on Neda including interviews with family members. Contrast this with protesters shot dead in Honduras who barely receive a paragraph. Those Honduran protesters were of course supporting someone, who like Chavez, is considered an official enemy by the mainstream media, i.e The democratically elected leader of Honduras, President Zelaya. The BBC have described protesters supporting Zelaya as fanatical.

    "Recent events in Tegucigalpa, with hundreds of protesters chanting the president's name have proved that he has his fanatical supporters."

    So apparently, whereas it is courteous to protest against the government in Iran, it is fanatical to demand the return of a democratically elected leader in Honduras.

    Going back to the issue of protests in the UK. If you ever saw the BBC describe British police as "wildly swinging batons" it would stick out of the web page like a sore thumb. The reason is that impartiality has become defined as "report carefully on Britain and it's allies, but take the gloves off when it comes to official enemies".

    This practice has been going on for so long it's the norm and anything that deviates from this norm is therefore by practical definition biased and looks out of place. This is what happens when censorship becomes sufficiently ingrained. You don't need to stop one of your reporters from writing "wildly swinging batons" in a G20 report because they would never have dreamed of writing it in the first place. Not because they are self-censoring, but because using the same tone of reporting on ourselves (or allies) just looks out of place.

    There are of course journalists who would be comfortable suggesting the British police have been brutal at a protest, but such journalists would not be employed by the BBC. It takes a long time to become an established reporter in the mainstream media. It's a long filtering process that naturally removes reporters who would truly be impartial, i.e. apply the same standards to ourselves and allies as we do to official enemies. Truly impartial reporting would be quickly slammed as biased, as bizarre as that seems. In the crazy world of the mainstream media, it is the biased reporting that is actually classed as impartial.

  • Comment number 18.

    'We will also incorporate lessons from past editorial failings.'

    Will you? Indeed? Because I was about to write a remark about skeptics and 'conspiracitas' and place it on another thread, just to exclaim the problems with terminology, I've deployed and redeployed such remarks more than once in a while on editor's threads.

    That article was interesting to read, because it seemed.., more careful about terminology than the one of the 'no need to mention' pamphlets we were served the other day.


    '…we've positively encouraged new recruits to the blogs to write informally, to respond to comments and just generally be themselves.'

    The motion and notion of that particular 'guideline' is more than obvious (HYS is another thing), I'd say it was interesting to examine these new frontiers, and I'd say it's a good course.


    Of course, as stated elsewhere and around the clock, if you have guidelines just to mock 'em and break 'em on regular basis, it's far better to have no guidelines at all.

    Your duty is to establish the facts (truth if you will), no matter how bad it is.

    History has shown that failure to follow your own guidelines, the failure to carry your 'public service', is what hurts public the most.

  • Comment number 19.

    13. At 11:41am on 10 Oct 2009, Rustigjongens

    I am fed up with the constant use of Guardian and The Independent journalists to 'debate' news stories on the BBC. This must be a clear breach of the BBCs editorial guidelines,

    Frankly, the use of ANY proxy mouthpiece to provide a degree of separation to 'stir stuff' is a cute weasel.

    I think (Telegraph's?) Andrew Pierce used to be invited on, but taking this weekend as an example, the guest commentators on BBC Breakfast were a chap for The Guardian yesterday and, today, doubtless responding to your reader feedback (as they do), by way of variety, Kevin Maguire of the Mirror. What he 'choses' to comment upon is often as telling as the 'choice' of guest by the booking team.

    Is he the only person who will turn up at this time? Or does he have a bunk at the studio?

    All others do it, of course, and Henry Kelly on SKY was an entertaining contrast to the cheeky Cockney chappie 'bloke of the people' the other day.

    Thing is, I expect better of my uniquely funded national broadcaster.

  • Comment number 20.

    #14 lordBeddGelert

    I do take your point that analysis of the news can be illuminating and interesting. However, surely we should be allowed to perform our own analysis before it is given to us on a plate, complete with BBC seasoning and flavouring? One of my objections is mixing facts with BBC opinions and calling it 'news'.

    I have nothing against analysis of the news. The trouble is that analysis is open to judgement and must surely consist of opinions. I would be more comfortable if the analysis were (i) separated from the news and (ii) was from a diverse range of sources.

    My problem with the BBC in particular is not just the principle (that is, the principle that I am paying for it along with millions of others and that the state broadcaster should be beyond reproach). It is much more practical than that: the problem is that the BBC has over 50% share of broadcast media and is dominant on line. This means, specifically, that once Nick Robinson passes his judgement on elected politicians, then, because of the corporate nature of the corporation that is the BBC, everyone else has to tow the line. If Robinson decrees that Gordon Brown delivered a bad speech then that is the BBC-wide message which is seen and heard across the network.

    Instead of having a thousand interpretations of the news we have one message going out to the majority of people. Despite the fact that commercial media and independent media will have lots of diverse messages, the big single message from the BBC will win out every time. As the BBC (and other media) has a tendency to confuse its own output with public opinion, the Brown speech is thus decreed as being a bad speech. This is power without responsibility. This is wrong. It is wrong that the editor of Panorama or the Today programme has more influence over government policy than my elected MP.

    As far as CO2 is concerned, after all the BBC analysis we have consumed, are we any the wiser? You would think that an issue that could potentially be critical to our future would be given better treatment by our state broadcaster.

    Long ago the BBC cried wolf about this issue, giving Greenpeace and other quangos virtually unhindered access to the airwaves. By checking other news sources I would say (and I stand to be corrected) that the facts appear to show that there is more CO2 in the atmosphere than there should be. Whether it is largely man-made and what the consequences are appears not to be known and is at the mercy of the weight of opinion (I don’t claim to be an expert, I am just picking up on the example!).

    My hunch (and my personal experience is) that although the BBC long ago declared that this was a man made phenomena (and public policy has reflected that ever since), people are starting to not trust the BBC on this issue. If the BBC reported the facts (more CO2) and kept out of other issues where effectively there were opinions and no hard facts, then we would at least have a clear picture of what is known and what is not known.

    I don’t see why the BBC should take it upon itself to tell both sides of the story, or for that matter any stories where there are no hard facts. I have no problem with seeing or hearing a debate amongst the scientists with a journo on hand to do some jargon-busting. As I said before, let’s hear the arguments at first hand and not the sermon according to the BBC, otherwise CO2 is just hot air.

    The Middle East is another example where the BBC has got itself into hot water. I understand that this blog was written as an indirect result of the BBC’s indiscretions in reporting the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Once again, let’s hear the facts. Leave the politicking and the opinions to the main players. I can understand that reporters will be emotionally involved when people, including children, are hurt and killed in a conflict. You would need to be a pretty cold person not to be affected. However, surely the job of a reporter is to report the facts and not to let their personal feelings become part of the story.

    lordBeddGelert, I was struck by your last sentence: 'But do we really want a British version of US NPR which might be great, but like C-Span doesn't have much influence?'

    I have a question or you: What kind of influence should be BBC exert and who should the BBC be influencing?

  • Comment number 21.

    Here's an example of a journalist letting his personal opinion shape his 'analysis'. When describing the reaction to Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize recently, Mark Mardell (North Americal Ed.) said on his blog:

    "I expect a day of sneering reaction from the conservative media here."

    My understanding of this comment is that Mark's view is that anyone who views Obama's award as somewhat either premature, or that the panel picked the wrong candidate from the shortlist to win, are 'sneering', rather than that this view is a legitimate view to hold? Effectively discreding those who hold a different view to Mark's?

    Some felt Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was a credible candidate on the Nobel shortlist, but it would appear those who hold this view are 'sneering' according to Mardell.

    Can we have less 'analysis' and more factual news please. Give us all sides and we'll make our own minds up thanks very much.

    Wake-up call for world peace

  • Comment number 22.

    "And of course, you can comment below too." - once I am looking at
    but looking at
    I have to the link above....

  • Comment number 23.

    From paragraph 2.2.7: "In the Nations and the English Regions". There you have it: Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland are "Nations", but England is merely a collection of "Regions". BBC policy remains that England is to receive inferior treatment, although of course English viewers will retain the right to pay the same licence fees as the favoured inhabitants of the "Nations".

  • Comment number 24.

    standards have been dropping for years and even the mighty bbc has suffered.
    sadly i doesnt help with education being dumbed down and governments apathy towards the standards of this country.

  • Comment number 25.

    silverfox - "Can we have less 'analysis' and more factual news please. Give us all sides and we'll make our own minds up thanks very much".
    Hear, hear.

  • Comment number 26.

    @ silverfoxuk, post # 21;

    "My understanding of this comment is that Mark's view is that anyone who views Obama's award as somewhat either premature, or that the panel picked the wrong candidate from the shortlist to win, are 'sneering', rather than that this view is a legitimate view to hold?"

    I'm afraid you understanding is flawed. It might help your comprehension if you actually read what was written, with all due respect.

    MY understanding of the comment is that Mr Mardell is expecting that the 'Conservative' media in the US will react to this issue with scorn and derision. (Which is, strangely, pretty much what he wrote). This is a 100% accurate commment/prediction - the 'Conservative' media in the US react to everything Obama-related this way; these are the same people who have been labelling him a "Communist" and a "Marxist" and "Unpatriotic" since back when he first looked like he might actually win the Democratic nomination for Presidential candidate over Hilary Clinton; the same people who, even now, insist on perpetuating the bizarre rumour that Obama is a Muslim (based, apparently, on his middle name being "Hussein"), or that he is not really an American citizen. Look up "Glenn Beck" or "Rush Limbaugh" - to name but a couple - if you don't believe me. It's just the way it is, over there - what happens when the news media makes more money out of telling people what they want to hear than it does out of telling the truth.

    How you got from that, to Mr Mardell believing that anybody who disagrees with Obama's Nobel Prize award is somehow doing something wrong, is known only to yourself, I guess.

    And, @ KennethM, post #20;

    You appear to be directly contradicting your statements elsewhere, on this bit;

    "I don’t see why the BBC should take it upon itself to tell both sides of the story, or for that matter any stories where there are no hard facts."

    If you don't see why the BBC should take it upon itself to tell both sides of a story - especially when one side isn't really backed up by facts - why on earth are you making so much of a fuss about the CO2 thing??? The vast majority of scientists who have weighed in on the Climate Change issue agree that yes, there is more CO2 in the atmosphere than there probably ought to be (as you rightly said), and that yes, man almost certainly IS contributing to these excess levels.

    (I mean, it's not rocket science, is it? Cars create C02. Planes create C02. Industry and Power Generation generate massive amounts of CO2. Heck, even the exhaled breath of our ever-increasing population adds to the CO2 in the atmosphere. A 5-year-old could tell you, then, that man is at least partially responsible for the increasing CO2 levels).

    Now of course, there are a few dissenting views - and these ought to be explored on the BBC, of course - but there's actually very few who genuinely don't believe that "man-made" climate change isn't happening.

    What you appear to be saying with your comments on the CO2 issue, then, is that the BBC should be giving either equal credence to a strictly minority viewpoint within the scientific community, or else not commenting on the issue at all. Which is kind of the opposite of the comments you made about 'not telling both sides of the story' and 'reporting only those positions backed up by facts', is it not...?

    And finally, to the editors themselves; please remember that a great many of the accusations of "bias" levelled against the BBC - I'd even go so far as to say, most of them, having spent some time reading the comments on reporters' blogs and the HYS pages - come from people who think "bias" means "anyone or anything that doesn't implicitly agree with my deeply-held beliefs". The right-wingers scream "bias!" every time somebody blogs about Gordon Brown without making it clear that he's the Son of Satan himself and responsible for every bad thing that's happened since 1997, or if one of them dares to mention the name "David Cameron" without adding the phrase "Peace Be Upon Him"; the Left react similarly to any suggestion that New Labour might be anything less than perfect, or that their policies have had any effects that aren't completely positive (anything that has gone wrong, apparently, is still the fault of the last Tory government - and if the BBC says different, its obviously mis-reporting the facts, etc. etc. ad nauseum)

    I'd hold the above two posters - Kenneth and silverfox - up as examples of this; both seem to be looking for excuses to label the BBC as biased and one-sided, presumably because it's truthful reporting on some subject or other has offended them. It's not "bias" when the news media challenges your beliefs - it just means, there's a chance you're wrong.

    I urge you, Mr Herrmann, not to jump at every criticism of this sort that comes along. Yes, the BBC does have a duty for truthful, balanced reporting. And you do very well, at that - being controlled by neither a government nor a profit-driven, corporate interest, your journalists' reporting is as objective as its possible to be, whilst still being human. Sure, you raise opinions and make political analyses - again, part of what the BBC is there for - but you'd have to be pretty stupid to NOT be able to tell the difference between a reporter on the ground in Iraq giving details of the latest troop movements and insurgent attacks (FACTS) and a bunch of Journos and Politicians sitting around in a studio discussing the reasons and merits of the invasion (OPINION). Clearly Kenneth and silverfox think the rest of us ARE that stupid, to be "influenced" by all these opinions which we keep getting confused with the actual news - and yet, it doesn't seem to have worked on them, so I'm wondering why they think the rest of us are such mindless drones...?

    Good luck with the guidelines. Although, I'd take out the part about how journalists and reporters "must not" express personal views on anything. Sure, they shouldn't do so whilst delivering the news itself. But your wording leaves no room for political commentary, analysis or opinions outside of direct news reporting. And I for one do find some value in finding out what reporters on the front-line of politics really think about the individuals they spend so much time talking to and working with on a day to day basis.

  • Comment number 27.

    KennethM - Apologies for not replying, I've only just seen your comment.

    "It is much more practical than that: the problem is that the BBC has over 50% share of broadcast media and is dominant on line." Hmm... Not sure about that. Surely now we have ITN/Channel4, Sky, CNN, and some other international ones like Al Jazeera English ?

    The BBC does have a strong online presence in news, but I would argue that there is a thriving blogging sector, although of course this represents comment rather than journalism.

    I'm not certain everyone in the BBC 'toes the line' given by Robinson - programmes on radio often express their own views, although I guess he may dominate. I'm personally more worried by Iain Martin who seems to be a cheerleader for the Scottish mafia than by Nick Robinson.

    Climate change. A couple of points here. Science coverage in general on the BBC is woeful. This is a far wider point than Global Warming. Horizon is just rubbish these days, and the whole meeja seems dominated by Oxbridge arts graduates, which is a much bigger problem than the BBC.

    Generally the BBC is just reflecting scientific consensus. I don't share your view that they are 'Greenpeace cheerleaders', because Greenpeace hold an asinine 'anti-nuclear' position which I don't think is reflected by BBC output. I would more worried if the BBC were seen to be trying to 'back' specific solutions to global warming, than reflecting what is a consensus view by the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change.

    If there are 'opposing views' not being covered I suspect they are more around whether in the near-term we should be doing more to prevent malaria. And Bjorn Lomborg has appeared on the BBC, although possibly not enough.

    "I don’t see why the BBC should take it upon itself to tell both sides of the story, or for that matter any stories where there are no hard facts." I'm not sure what you are referring to here - I hope it is not to 'climate change' because there are certainly 'hard facts' and huge amounts of research. Or do you think that the BBC should not report on whether cigarettes are bad for us, because the 'jury is still out' ?

    "The Middle East is another example where the BBC has got itself into hot water. " Come, come now.. - I think the BBC's coverage is generally good in this area and the fact that Jeremy Bowen got his wrist slapped for one report does not alter the fact that no one gets it right all the time. Certainly better than Fox News consistently getting it wrong to the benefit of the Israelis week in, week out.

    Okay, whether we would be in this happy position without the Balen report is mere conjecture...

    "I have a question or you: What kind of influence should be BBC exert and who should the BBC be influencing?"

    My personal view is of the old Reithian values of the BBC, to inform, enliven and entertain. It should influence us to know more of the world and hopefully take action to make it a better place by informing us of injustice. Of course, I'd be the first to argue that these days maybe the answer to that is to watch telly a lot less, listen to the radio a bit more, and read many more books.

    That is disappointing, but the age of 'Civilization' and 'Horizon' has gone with the advent of multi-channel telly. My point was merely that NPR/C-Span may run a Panorama style documentary about nursing homes, but if no-one is watching, who will raise a fuss and write to the politicians to complain and effect some change ?

  • Comment number 28.

    In response to Khrystalar comments:

    I watch the BBC, I watch Sky, I watch CNN, and I even watch Channel 4, this I do whilst having a subscription to the Times & Guardian.

    What I find from my broad viewing and reading habits is that the Times has a centre right bias, the Guardian a centre left bias, this is all perfectly acceptable as both newspapers political views are well known, and that I as the customer have the option of purchasing/or not either paper. The same is true for CNN, Channel 4 and SKY, the BBC however does not allow me this option, I am forced to pay a license fee (which I actually support), this means that the BBC cannot show any bias towards any political view.

    Unfortunatly the BBC does have a centre of left bias, this is most clear in the BBCs news reportage which is obviously sympathetic towards left wing views, the Today programme being a clear example of this bias.

    The amount of centre of right websites devoted towards exposing BBC political bias (ex Biased BBC) and the lack of left of centre websites shows Khrystalar claims regarding bias to be weak.

    What is very interesting is the amount of BBC employees who have either worked for the Labour party or have moved from the BBC to the Labour party (this information is freely available on the internet), a couple of examples are the BBCs Economic Editor, Robert Preston who wrote Gordon Browns autobiography, and Lord Grade.

    So does the BBC have credibilty problems when it claims impartiality?, the answer has to be an empthatic YES.

  • Comment number 29.

    "I'm afraid you understanding is flawed. It might help your comprehension if you actually read what was written, with all due respect."

    Dearie me, can you imagine what would happen to the blogosphere if that happened across the board ? It would be like the seizing up of the credit markets which led to the banking crisis... I mean, we all know there is too much credit, but going cold turkey will lead to a crash..

    As for the Mark Mardell point, I guess what one has to remember is that on his 'Euroblog' much of this was not about 'facts' which are hard to come by in any case in the EU - it was trying to unravel what was going on in that 'smoke and mirrors' web of obfuscation where 'perception is reality' and the whole EU project is continually pumping out propaganda.

    He then had to 'reverse engineer' an opinion of what was driving some of the 'facts' and initiatives and hidden agendas. So I agree his blog does need to allow some latitude for interpretation of nebulous things like people's impressions, media bias, misperceptions and his interpretation of the mood of the people.

    "Now of course, there are a few dissenting views - and these ought to be explored on the BBC, of course - but there's actually very few who genuinely don't believe that "man-made" climate change isn't happening."

    What I would like to see more of on the BBC editorial is an explanation of WHY people believe that climate change is occurring - figures for CO2 percentages, graphs for increase in concentrations since the Industrial Revolution etc. - The BBC seems to think we are all 'media arts luvvies' who switch over as soon as numbers are mentioned. Why is Ben Goldacre on the payroll of the Guardian, but not on the BBC de-bunking myths etc. ?

    Why do I find out that wind turbines on-shore will never be the answer, and that they suck up power when it isn't windy, that nuclear isn't really all that dangerous and many other things from sources other than the BBC ? Or what the 7 areas to tackle to reduce CO2 emissions are ?

    This is what the BBC should really be covering, but it's more interested in sexy pictures of polar bears..

    'It's not "bias" when the news media challenges your beliefs - it just means, there's a chance you're wrong.' - Yikes !! That is a dangerously insightful comment to make !!

    "And I for one do find some value in finding out what reporters on the front-line of politics really think about the individuals they spend so much time talking to and working with on a day to day basis."

    Indeed - 'Flat Earth News' points out that no-one seems willing to put their neck on the line and trust their gut instinct but is prepared to 'go with the flow' and the 'groupthink' or current orthodoxy. Of course, I believe that climate change is being exacerbated by man's activities. But that doesn't mean the facts about it shouldn't be scrutinised and an adversarial debate or two organised to get people thinking about things.

    e.g. Aviation is always the big bad wolf [possible for good reason] but how many people know that 'server farms', the backbone of the internet generate as much CO2 ? Which given the fact that most of the world's population neither use the internet or fly is surely something worth thinking about ?

  • Comment number 30.

    Dear Sir,
    Regret to say that, my writings were removed on non relevant to subject.
    Being very free news networks, with some restricted notions on certain regular writers,for that point of view only, i was slightly disappointed.
    Because my personal urges ,and more interested from college days, i started to write for this writers article for once time.
    The above article is quite interesting and full of facts and figures.
    There are guidelines and some sorts of self, made ethics for management,board of editors and some team members on maintaining the internal tie up-all made the difference and applications for news broadcasting to all BBC World Services.
    This a real welcome steps for accurate and balanced writings.
    On critical point of view, some times, BBC news are repeated news from almost times from different BBC news timings.
    For example, Iraq, Iran,Somalia and, Serbia ,Macedonia conflicts are same type of stories.
    But, now a days, BBC schedules, Have Your Say,Fast Track are all changed and are all changing for better viewing.
    Here BBC News are very neutral to other news channels.
    Still there is a wide scope for improvements in many subjects.
    All the Best.
    Overall performances and your moderation policies on covering reporting ,readers views are still no one compared to other world news networks.
    Thanks to this editor for clearly and cleanly on subjects.

  • Comment number 31.

    #28 "a couple of examples are the BBCs Economic Editor, Robert Preston who wrote Gordon Browns autobiography, and Lord Grade.."

    Hmm... I'm not sure that writing an autobiography is evidence of shared political belief. I'm thinking Tom Bower / Gordon Brown.

    One suspects that Gordon Brown hardly sees Robert Peston as being hugely sympathetic to his cause; indeed 'with friends like him..'.

    Lord Grade ? Do you mean Michael Grade ? He isn't BBC Chairman, but at ITV, but I get your point - I've not seen convincing evidence of him being on the payroll of New Labour, but I'm willing to be proved wrong.

    Don't forget that 'Posh' Pauline Neville-Jones who cropped up at this year's Tory Party Conference as a speaker used to be a BBC Governor, and a better example of right-wing upper class elitist I've yet to find.

  • Comment number 32.

    I was about to reply to silverfox @21, but Khrystalar beat me to it @26, so I'll just briefly second and underline distinction between reporting and 'opinionating'.

    I'm ok with concepts of blogs, columns, editorials, editorial cartoons, punditry… or however we call it these days; these venues are meant to be colorful, imo, more colorful they are, more interesting it gets. The more the merrier would apply too.

    I'd say that opinion journalism celebrates our universal diversity, while news reports 'celebrate' our common organon, striving to be as factually accurate as (humanly) possible.

    Factual accuracy 'rejects' any bias by definition.


    There are too few of these important stories to be found. If there is a journalist which brought charge against WHO, I want to read about it, if there are 'unanswered questions' with regards to 9/11 or if there is a call for new investigation I want to read about it. If you carry the story about moon rock being nothing but petrified wood I want to see a follow up. I've just read how hundreds are missing, how its getting harder and harder to find the genuine ones, where in the world are they? If the FBI admits that 'telephone Company is arm of government'.., if there are empty prisons in rural America which are in private hands let's find the purpose of those. Let's learn everything there is to learn about Blackwater, let's spread the word on Operation Falcon. If things are not working in Afghanistan, point out the 'Phantom aid' with regards to that torn country. If Obama choose to retain the 'core of corruption' at the top of the military, report it... as a matter of fact why don't you earn the trust whilst investigating the story behind most censored stories?

    You know, it's not just the news, it's what you choose to report... and imo, the whole darn MSM, this public (dis)service included, are picky beyond excuse.

  • Comment number 33.

    The BBC's front page carries the following:

    Within the text are the words "The US secretary of state has warned the world will not "wait indefinitely" for proof that Iran is not making nuclear weapons."

    So the BBC declares, within reported speech, that Mrs Clinton represents "the world"? Is that "fact" or journalistic "opinion" and what, exactly, are the backgrounds of those journalists who made this assumption?

  • Comment number 34.

    Took 'em long enough.

    I am guessing the BBC doesn't have irony appreciation classes amongst the many empathy trainings required.

    Such as removing a posting on a thread about editorial guidelines (credible or not) that called into question the level of free speech permitted with House Rules that reserve 'Off Topic' for anything they don't fancy but can't quite pin down any other way.

    Still, helpful when my licence fee payment negotiations start, and we get around to service delivery and contractual obligations.

  • Comment number 35.

    #29 "Why do I find out that wind turbines on-shore will never be the answer, and that they suck up power when it isn't windy, that nuclear isn't really all that dangerous and many other things from sources other than the BBC ? Or what the 7 areas to tackle to reduce CO2 emissions are ?"

    - Because these are all opinions, not facts!

    On the subject of bias and specifically when discussing conflicts, the only way to judge impartiality is by being accused of bias by both camps.
    Any western media which actually took the middle ground between Al-Jhezeera Media and Tel-Aviv news would soon find itself almost universally accused of "pro-Palestinian bias". How can there not be bias when history itself shows politics has moved toward Centre-Right and anti-Muslim?
    'Impartial reporting' in 1936 Germany would have the media there, leaning more towards the 'Leni Riefenstahl' than the 'Joseph Goebbels' but the fact that they were both Nazi propogandists wouldn't enter peoples heads. Any report attempting to present an anti - discriminatory stance would have been denounced as written by either "Communist" or "Jewish" sympathisers.
    Perhaps "balanced" reporting is all we can hope for, given that true 'impartiality' can only be perceived through hindsight once the political climate and context have been reduced to 'academic' importance

  • Comment number 36.

    To pandatank #35

    but that's your opinion! :)

    So how can you tell the difference between opinions and facts?

  • Comment number 37.

    News: Yes.
    As Yellow to Black.
    Brown as to Red

    Cold (pangs) cost hot reverse.
    The Black Cat,Black (Hat)Binds That we Tie The Yellow Ribbom ARound The Old Oak Tree.

    How does your fellow BBC blogger's ''Has he got a Legg to stand on?'' stand ?
    As a disabled person I am offended by the unnecessary smirking and innuendo. I suppose you just want me to ''go and pushoff'' ?

    [Hand on the Red Button,
    A PC Pumps]

  • Comment number 38.

    PS You seem to have a glitch which allows people to sign in and prepare comment, but not post it.

  • Comment number 39.

    Khrystalar #26

    I wasn’t making a fuss about the CO2 thing. I was responding to another post that used the CO2 thing as an example. Whether the weight of opinion of scientists counts as news or opinion, I guess is a matter of ..well opinion. I wouldn’t get too fussed about it.

    I certainly did not say that the BBC should give equal credence to a minority viewpoint. I am sorry if you thought I said that. Perhaps my wording was not too good. I think the BBC already espouses minority views so why would I want more of that?

    What I have said on other BBC blogs is that the BBC should ditch the studios and get out more. There are many conventions of scientists being held all over the place. Why can’t the BBC cover these conventions, including those where scientists meet and debate these issues? Rather than the BBC, which is not a scientific institution (as they clearly demonstrate), attempting to be a ringmaster between competing views, why does it not cover these conventions and restrict itself to jargon busting? If covered fairly the majority versus minority situation would reveal itself, I am sure. Yes I know that conventions can be hijacked by organised vested interests. I don’t claim to have all the answers but I know the answer is NOT that the BBC makes judgements on this issue, which is what is happening right now.

    On your last point, there was a time when the BBC proudly proclaimed that it received roughly the same amount of complaints from Left and Right. They have quietly dropped that claim over the past few years. As another contributor pointed out, most complaints about the BBC on the web come from those who think it is too far to the left. Even some left wingers are saying this. There is a very long list of those people who have had involvements in left wing politics and subsequently joined the BBC. There is very short list of those who have joined the BBC from right wing politics. More to the point (many people have left-leanings in their early years), is that the list of those leaving the BBC and entering left wing politics is significant. The list of those leaving the BBC and joining right wing politics is non existent (I am sure someone will find somebody who left the BBC and joined the Conservatives or UKIP. Listen folks, one ain’t enough. It takes at least 2 to make a list).

    Left wing bias at the BBC? Don’t take my word for it. In a MORI poll commissioned by the BBC (about perceptions of BBC reporting of the quango eu) from November 2004:

    ‘The knowledgeable minority tend to hold strong views and distrust the media and the establishment. They often focus on perceived corruption and deception within the EU and British politics as a whole. They express the view that the BBC is both pro Labour and pro EU.’

    Why not take a verbatim report from the BBC itself:

    Jane Garvey talking with Peter Allen on BBC Drive (Radio 5) where she reminisced with co-host Peter Allen about the morning of May 2nd, 1997, the morning when Tony Blair became Prime Minister

    'Ah, well - I had been up for most of the night but I was doing this Five Live breakfast programme with our colleague at the time - it was a bloke called Peter Allen so - I had to get a bit of sleep, and I do remember I walked back into - we were broadcasting then from Broadcasting House in the centre of London - all very upmarket in those days - and the corridors of Broadcasting House were strewn with empty champagne bottles - I will always remember that (Allen laughs) - er - not that the BBC were celebrating in any way shape or form (Allen, laughing - 'no, no, no, not at all') - and actually - I think it's fair to say that in the intervening years the BBC, if it was ever in love with Labour has probably fallen out of love with Labour, or learned to fall back in, or basically just learned to be in the middle somewhere which is how it should be - um - but there was always this suggestion that the BBC was full of pinkoes who couldn't wait for Labour to get back into power - that may have been the case, who knows? but as I say I think there've been a few problems along the way - wish I hadn't started this now...'

    And on your very final final point, that you are not stupid and not influenced by BBC opinions. Well, I accept that you are not stupid. However I know I must be stupid as I am definitely influenced by what I see and hear. I certainly have trouble separating fact from opinion. I am sure that the advertisers who spend millions will be disappointed that you cannot be influenced. I am sure that politicians who get up at 6:30am on a Sunday to appear on tv or radio will also be disappointed. I am sure that the folks in Broadcasting House who sipped champagne on Tony Blair’s election night will frown. Hang on! There is still hope. I think your comments clearly show that you have indeed been influenced by the BBC propaganda that you claim to be impervious to. Your comments clearly demonstrate you that you have been influenced after all. Welcome to the stupid club.

  • Comment number 40.

    I concur with the annoyance registered at #38 SSnotbanned which has manifested during the past week or so. You really need to get this software sorted out before it bombs AGAIN.

    On the subject of CO2 and climate change I'd like to offer the perspective that the debate is wholly subjective since no one can prove things one way or the other, not even down to whether the CO2 levels are hazardous to planet Earth in the medium to long term. Being subjective it is hard not to find fault with politicians AND scientists who go into overdrive mode in pushing home their point. That they are fuelled by a partisan media is unhelpful too. By all means point out that a "clean" Earth is better than a "dirty" one but, apparently, not "better" enough to invest substantially in infrastructure changes that may give us REAL change. This is a prime example of the media obfuscating what is being said and NOT done by those with influence. Green taxes raise revenue that do not clean things up.

    But the BBC are biased, undeniably biased, towards a left of centre liberal view, just close enough to the fence to be disguised as "forward" thinking. The BBC's strange way of "promoting" minorities in order to provide "balance" is warped and doomed to fail and illustrates muddled thinking at the highest level. It also is contemptuous towards those who pay the BBC to function.

    Far too often I find that the BBC will analyse a subject to death in order to find an angle that fits with its own view of life; if it cannot find an angle then it doesn't deliver the news and that is irresponsible.

  • Comment number 41.

    #40 Angel_in_Transit
    'Far too often I find that the BBC will analyse a subject to death in order to find an angle that fits with its own view of life; if it cannot find an angle then it doesn't deliver the news and that is irresponsible'

    I whole heartily agree with that.

    Today's sermon from Nick Robinson:

    'Unemployment is rising slower than many economists and, indeed, the government feared'

    ..and so the BBC gives us this headline:

    'Growth in UK unemployment slows'

    So, a cheery story about unemployment goes out over the network.

    Can you imagine such a headline when the Conservatives were in power? If it weren’t so serious with people losing their livelihoods it would be laughable.

    Are the BBC electioneering already? Are they sulking over their doomed pay-packets under a future Conservative government? Are they so naive that they didn’t notice that the Labour government put the rabbit in the hat in the first place?

    What worries me is that this behaviour will lead to a backlash when the Conservatives come in. In other times and in other lands, journalists have risked their lives and sometimes lost their lives for the sake of delivering the truth to the public. In my opinion a free media is vital in our democracy. The BBC's behaviour is threatening this precious thing. It is only the BBC that can put its own house in order. If the Conservatives attempt it there will be an almighty battle with the BBC/Labour Party/Liberal Party/NUJ on one side and the Conservatives on the other. Restrictions placed on the BBC will be seen as political interference and I certainly would not be comfortable with it. They must sort themselves out and do it with urgency.

  • Comment number 42.

    20+18+5+5 does not equal 40
    Ribbon not Ribbom.
    FastForward.In counting,what of mistakes ?
    -translation e.g. tree or 'arbre'.
    -other limits of Man.

    I think you will find people are not 'of the present'(more past influenced,or ''future chasers'',even if they think they live just in the present.
    On the one hand,you have people who they think they have learnt from past mistakes(history) and on the other hand people who want to anticipate the next episode/occurrence (not necessarily dependent on past action).

    '''Impartiality' enshrined'' ?
    Is that like when you review a by-election,you cover the main parties views,and then read a list,at best,of the other persons engaged in the process,but do not air any of their views.
    'Impartiality' is usually judged on (previous) evidence.
    How do you know you have all the evidence?
    You think you have ?
    In this you are presupposing the by-election result.

    Blair Peach 30 Years On:
    Peter Marshall:
    ''In no circumstances was I involved in the death of Blair Peach''.
    Kahlil Gibran:
    The Prophet:
    ''As a single leaf turns not yellow,but with the silent knowledge of the whole tree,so the wrong-doer cannot do wrong without the hidden will of all.''.

  • Comment number 43.

    @23 is that the BBC that only shows Scotland Football Internationals on BBC Scotland and interactive only, while England Internationals are shown UK wide on BBC1?

    The fact that the BBC still does not have a BBC 1 England shows that they still see the UK Network as England.

    Is that the same BBC that has BBC local radio in every English region, yet 2 for the whole of Scotland, one of which is part time.

    Yes, the English licence payer really is worse off.......

  • Comment number 44.

    Will the new guidelines make a Twitter tie-in compulsory. It already seems to be.

  • Comment number 45.



    No one said these things are easy, it took well over 300 pages to prove that proposition 1+1=2 is true.

    One would think it's far simpler than that.

    It was done though, successfully so.


    UN holds opinion that Israel used 'disproportionate force' as a reaction to the rocket attacks from Gaza.

    Israel's prime minister holds opinion that UN' opinion about use of 'disproportionate force' in Gaza is 'distorted'.

    Which of these opinions have basis in facts?

  • Comment number 46.

    I find all this navel-gazing a tad perplexing, given that scrupulous objectivity has never been a strong suit of the BBC blogs. It's arguable whether it should be, but somehow the fact that the editors make such a meal of these things just renders it more offensive than it perhaps would be in other circumstances.

    Justin Webb's U.S. blog, for example, was a flag-waving disgrace to journalism by the time it finished (his valedictory posts in particular made me cringe), Hewitt's Euro blog seemed systematically to airbrush the role of the Irish left from its Lisbon Treaty coverage, and Stephanie Flanders's blog is predicated on the entirely ideologically-based and subjective premise that the tenets of free-market capitalism are immutable and irrefutable facts of life.

  • Comment number 47.

    Thanks. I note there is the caveat of assuming an ageeable 'addition definition'.
    Although the Israel PM's statement is an opinion of an opinion this doesn't mean he has come to this conclusion without evidence.
    [E.G.He knows based on facts known to him, that the Israel attack was not disproportionate,so the UN has a 'distorted'' view.]

  • Comment number 48.

    # 45 moiraeencomium
    Also I would suspect that 1+1=2 assumes simultaneous (in time and space)'addition' calculation.

  • Comment number 49.

    1+1=2, for its intended use here, doesn't assume much, it's just a reminder that, if common sense fails, we still have logical axioms as well as 'primitive symbols' to build theorems and keep 'distorted reality' in check with reality itself.

    All of which translates to language extraordinarily well.


    To continue with e.g., if we focus on 'allegations of disproportionate force' we can take a look at the facts (evidence) and see whose 'claim' has a/is close to valid/true foundation/form.

    Fact is, eight people were killed by Qassam rocket, Grad rocket and mortar attacks on Israel in 2008, there was no significant damage to the infrastructure.

    Fact is, some 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed in the 22-day conflict. 'Israeli military action destroyed thousands of homes, hundreds of factories and 80 official buildings in Gaza.'


    Of course, we could expand this with related variables, yet it will not change the fact that both 'parties' cannot be right, one of them has a 'distorted view'. To share a thought, there is always room for 'misinterpretation', yet, as interesting as this sample example we're playing with is, it satisfies both notions, it can be deduced as well as empirically proven.

    It's a fine reminder that our actuality is often based on defying both, logic and scientific theory.

    Often, it is not so on purpose, but for lack of freedom.

    imo, as ever.
    : )

  • Comment number 50.

    Maybe generally agreed and universal descriptions are the key to describing something accurately and without bias. Whenever a definition has to be diluted, undefined or automatically exclude the team that you happen belong to, there are distortions. If you have to ignore defined principles then your point of view may be biased.

  • Comment number 51.

    The Beeb is the ultimate expression of the middle class liberal elite. The political correctness positively reeks. I find the subtle admiration of the Taliban particularly distasteful. Note now they get referred to as "fighters" not "insurgents" all very subtle along with the concentration on UK casualties with scarcely a mention of enemy losses.

  • Comment number 52.

    to il_pirata #51:

    "The Beeb is the ultimate expression of the middle class liberal elite"

    whereas it should be the ultimate expression of ...?

  • Comment number 53.


    Thanks for the input to the new "editorial guidelines"...I will be reading them when I have time.

    ~Dennis Junior~

  • Comment number 54.

    Mr Hermann

    I wonder what you make, by referring to the BBC Editorial Guidelines, of Mr Peter Allen's comments on Five Live Drive ("rather long explanation") on Dave Ward's explanation of CWU's decision to go ahead with the postal strike.

    A neutral stance would be "very full explanation" but Mr Allen is not neutral is he. He has made his position on postal workers very clear night after night. So why is he still in a job?

  • Comment number 55.

    Nick Griffin is in the house? Are we exercising some freedom, seeking some independence?


  • Comment number 56.

    Forgive me, please, if I am in the wrong area for this kind of comment - I'm married; I usually know when I'm in the wrong - but who, if anyone, is subbing this site? Tonight's little bombshell involves the unfortunate woman who died during an alleged argument with her husband, who has been accused of her murder.

    The offending line goes: "Alisdair Sinclair, 48, formerly of Georgia Lane, Amport, admitted he and his wife were involved in a knife fight in which she died but denies murder."

    Well, the poor dead woman can deny all she wants, but this is just the latest example of sloppy, probably non-existent, subbing. We are talking reportage here, not folksy stuff about death.

    The BBC web site is the best of its kind in the world, or should be. Is the budget really stretched so painfully thin that there isn't a writer left in the building who can spot this kind of embarrassing error?

  • Comment number 57.

    If Nick Griffin is allowed, why was the charity appeal for the Gaza children not allowed? Why the one and not the other?

  • Comment number 58.

    Please explain to me which parts of the editorial guidelines those who produced "Question Time" (BBC1 22/10/09) did not understand. Impartiality is not acquitted simply by inviting the leader of the BNP onto the programme. It is neither impartial nor civil to bully a panel member just because he expresses views that we do not agree with. The constant uncontrolled interruptions from other panel members and chair were disgusting.

    Are we to be told what measures the BBC Trust intend to adopt when programme makers breach this code?

  • Comment number 59.

    I just thought I need to mention on QT last night, Jack Straw's otherwise excellent performance last night was marred by damming Nick Griffin as a "conspiracy theorist"... Firstly, why condemn "conspiracy theorists" - after all criminal conspiracies happen All The Time - if you don't have a theory on them - how are you going to stop them!? What is the beef there?

    Hi SirJohn and A-i-T. You know how to contact me, right? Meanwhile it is a shame that our recording breaking bbc blog has been closed down... (Hey SirJohn, did I not predict that!?)

  • Comment number 60.

    Greetings y'all, I knew I'd find you somewhere near GZ...
    Paraphrasing Orwell, if freedom of speech means anything at all, it means listening to people with whom you do not agree, and defending their right to be heard.
    Interesting as this discussion is, I very much doubt that this blog, or any other on BBC Editors, will ever register more posts than the Caught up in a Conspiracy Theory thread which has, surprise-surprise, been summarily executed upon reaching its first birthday.
    And not so much a fare-thee-well from Mike Rudin...quelle dommage.

  • Comment number 61.

    Yo IanBrotherhood, Glad you found us... (I really must go and buy your book, btw)

    Now we will have to go from bbc blog to bbc blog, expressing our desire for freedom of speech and our ultra liberal views to a wider audience. Installing nanothermite into the steely and inflexible structure of the BBC until we can reach a suitable 'V for Vengeance' moment and pull it down like a controlled demolition.

  • Comment number 62.

    So, Emails/Texts/Tweets received by the bbc were in broad support of the QT BNP debate, but was any attempt made to determine their validity? One should be extremely wary of endorsing information received electronically especially via blogs comment pages and the like, as a true indication of the public's opinion; this data is just too prone to spoofing. What checks and balances do the BBC have in place? Anyone can create a few email addresses linked to blog accounts and then post multiple comments backing any position they please in bulk.

  • Comment number 63.

    Steve Hermann, thanks for the opportunity to comment on BBC editorial guidelines. The BBC is highly regarded around the world. BBC journalism is often held up as a sort of 'gold standard' in journalism, by media operations around the world. In a way, BBC has a special kind of ethical obligation then, given its high standing, to do its best to stick by its rather impressive guidelines.

    I'm one of those who believe an accurate, impartial Fourth estate is vital for good democracy. Your Guidelines note: "the need to be duly accurate and impartial and to avoid causing audiences unnecessary offence"...and .. "The Editorial Guidelines are also used by the BBC Executive and the BBC Trust when considering complaints about BBC content."

    If you refer to Mike Rudin's "Caught Up in A Conspiracy" thread (5 600 comments) which has just been closed, you will find that I was among a number of regular posters there. My biggest beef was that the BBC coverage of 911 events (handled by Rudin under the non-impartial 'Conspiracy Files' label) was frozen in time (2008) after his last documentary and Editors Blog posting on the subject.

    Rudin's work was never updated to take in NIST's startling November 2008 admission that WTC building 7 endured 2.25 seconds of freefall - freefall being consistent with instantaneous, controlled removal of 8 floors of structure.

    Rudin's work was never updated to acknowledge a finding by a group of scientists (led by Dr Harrit of the Niels Bohr Instutute, Copenhagen University) that forensic residue of a high-tech incendiary substance had been found in WTC dust - a singular, highly-engineered product which had no business being there.

    The "Active Thermitics" paper by Harrit, Jones, Legge et al published in The Open Chemical Physics Journal (April 2009) has never been formally, scientifically rebutted. This seems an important story from any angle. If Al Qaeda have access to this high tech material, surely the public has the right to be informed of this possibility?

    I found Rudin's work - in its non-updated state - to be inaccurate. I was surprised that the NIST November 2008 correction and Harrit et al's peer-reviewed paper were not covered by the BBC.

    The BBC Guideline also states: "Accurate and impartial content is a key characteristic of the BBC and we recognise it is vital to the BBC's good reputation."

    As an admirer and viewer of the BBC I was concerned by the BBC's one-sided (conspiracy label) approach to '911' discourse and the ultimate inaccuracy of your news reports. I sent an online complaint about this on June 20, 2009, which was not acknowledged.

  • Comment number 64.

    Hi SirJohn,

    I was just looking through the BBC history on BBC editorial guidelines and it is an interesting read.

    Essentially, it shows that the BBC has been constantly pressured to tow the Government's line including news suppression as detailed in the Zircon affair where a programme on "secret Cabinet committees" was never shown, the Falklands conflict meant that the BBC could not be anti-war and Iraq/Gilligan affair means that the BBC cannot ever seriously investigate government decisions...

    I believe that these three events demonstrate that the BBC do not investigate any story which could upset the Government lies over war. It has become with its doublethink standards, the very model of Orwell's "Ministry of Truth" (ok, perhaps with lipstick applied).

    Indeed, anybody that doubts the government's stories is then labeled a "Conspiracy Theorist". Just like in the US where the term "Liberal" is now regarded as a swear word, the BBC is doing the same for "Conspiracy Theorist". This is basically saying, that the BBC is right and everybody else is wrong (despite the BBC not asking the critical questions and avoiding the science!)

  • Comment number 65.

    Given your impartiality guidelines, I'd like to know how the BBC can justify employing journalists who are members of the British-American Project. This is a secretive, conspiratorial organisation which is dedicated to propagandising for a controversial political point of view.

  • Comment number 66.

    Hello for the first time.
    I have been a contributor to WHYS for more than six months. I read and re-read the rules and have complied with them, exept for one particular instance where I used certain words to illustrate a point. From the very begining my comments on certain subjects were systematically censored. When I asked why in giving an example Mark Sandell gave me an evasive answer that was nothing to do with the comment in question. Although I have had my comments so frequently deleted they haven't deleted me from the contributors list which I have asked them to do.
    My point in writing all this is to say that if you have a hidden agenda please have the honesty to tell me now and you won't hear from me again.

  • Comment number 67.

    Hey guys and gals have you seen the reports from Times re Immigration and Illegal Home Office activities. Can't seem to see anything in the BBC news line up on this subject, Why not? For your info get your finger out this is the next big one

    The Whitehall correspondence, which was illegally withheld by the Home Office for four years, shows how ministers were told by the country’s most senior immigration official that his staff were to be “encouraged to take risks” when granting visas, work permits and extended residency to hundreds of thousands of new migrants.

    The cover-up of this policy of risk-taking was so concerted that Richard Thomas, the then information commissioner, sent a team of investigators into the Home Office to trawl all the relevant papers. Earlier this year he rebuked the department for breaking the law and ordered it to release the material under the freedom of information (FoI) law.

    The documents help to explain the huge rise in the flow of migrants into Britain as the Home Office rushed to clear a backlog of 45,000 cases.


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