Checking the facts
Material provided by eyewitnesses can strengthen our coverage greatly, provided we take sensible precautions.
Our starting point is that we should aim to apply the same approach to pictures, audio and video supplied by members of the public, as we do to any other material we handle as journalists.
We should not automatically assume that the material is accurate and should take reasonable steps where necessary to seek verification. As digital manipulation tools become more accessible, we also need to be on our guard against photo manipulation and hoaxing
We aim to achieve accuracy by
- the accurate gathering of material using first hand sources wherever possible
- checking and cross checking the facts
- validating the authenticity of documentary evidence and digital material
- corroborating claims and allegations made by contributors wherever possible
In most cases, material will not be put directly on air or online. We should ensure we have adequate resources to check material for accuracy, appropriate consents etc before it is broadcast or published. However in some cases of breaking news, there may be a very tight turnaround between receiving and viewing material and broadcasting it.
Special care must be taken if we suspect that material has been supplied by a member of a lobby group or organisation with a vested interest in the story, rather than a disinterested bystander.
Material sent into firstname.lastname@example.org is seen by the UGC hub journalists, verified and then distributed around News. Pictures and video should not be taken from here outside the UGC hub hours of 7am-11pm by any journalist without them having consulted with a senior editorial figure. This guidance applies to all BBC journalists.
Some audio may not go through the hub, particularly if it has been sent directly to individual programmes or radio stations. Once it has been broadcast, after the required checks have been carried out (see bullet points above), it may then be appropriate to offer this around the network via traffic/ GNS. However this should not be done without consultation with a senior editorial figure. Care should be taken to ensure that the member of the public who has submitted the content, understands it may have wider distribution.