Section 3: Accuracy

Gathering material

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  1. Material from Third Parties


We should try to witness events and gather information first hand.  Where this is not possible, we should talk to first hand sources and, where necessary, corroborate their evidence.  We should be reluctant to rely on a single source.  If we do rely on a single source, a named on-the-record source is always preferable.

We should record our research interviews with sources wherever possible.  In circumstances where recording might inhibit the source, full notes should be made, preferably at the time or, if not, as soon as possible afterwards.

(See Section 3 Accuracy: 3.4.10)



In all our content we must check and verify information, facts and documents, where required to achieve due accuracy.  If we have been unable to verify material sufficiently, we should say so and attribute the information.



There are separate considerations for user generated content.  We should not automatically assume that the material is accurate and should take reasonable steps, depending on how it is to be used and if necessary to achieve due accuracy, to seek verification.  We must take special care over how we use any material that we suspect has been supplied by a member of a lobby group or organisation with a vested interest in the story, rather than a disinterested bystander.

We should carefully scrutinise and, if necessary to achieve due accuracy, corroborate eyewitness accounts submitted by email before using them, for example by talking to eyewitnesses on the phone.

We should ensure that user generated content is clearly identified as such.

(See Guidance: User Contributions in News Output)



Particular care is required when researching on the internet or using material from websites.  Even normally reliable sources of information on the web may not always be accurate.  We should also be alert to the possibility of hoax websites; the most convincing material on the web may not be what it seems.  It may be necessary to check who is running the website or confirm with an individual or organisation that the material is genuine.

(See Guidance: Internet Research)


Material from Third Parties


Material supplied by third parties needs to be treated with appropriate caution, taking account of the reputation of the source.

We should normally only rely on an agency report if it can be substantiated by a BBC correspondent or if it is attributed to a reputable news agency.

We should only use other material supplied by third parties if it is credible and reliable.  This includes weather reports, financial markets information and music charts.  We need to ensure that any credit given for the use of third party material is in accordance with BBC credit guidelines.



We should only broadcast material from third parties who may have a personal or professional interest in its subject matter if there is a clear editorial justification.  The material should be labelled.  This includes material from the emergency services, charities, and environmental groups.

We should be reluctant to use video and audio news releases or other similar material.  We do not normally use any extracts from such releases if we are capable of gathering the material ourselves.  The editorial significance of the material, rather than simply its impact, must be considered before it is used.  If it is editorially justified to use it then we must explain the circumstances and clearly label the source of the material in our output.

(See Guidance: Video and Audio News Releases)


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