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Editorial Policy Newsletter No.25

18 May 2010

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David Cameron and Nick CleggThe arrival of coalition government may present some new challenges for broadcasters, striving for impartiality.

We're used to hearing the views of all three main parties on controversial subjects. But, with the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in Government together, will it still be appropriate for both parties to get a say?

The answer is - sometimes.

In news reporting on the actions of the Government, when the coalition administration is speaking with one voice, it will not normally be necessary to have a spokesman from both parties. However, at other times, judgements will need to be made on a case-by-case basis.

For example, discussion programmes covering issues broader than just matters of government and opposition, may sometimes find that they need both Conservative and Liberal Democrat speakers if they are to adequately represent the range of views that exists. There may also be views that exist within both parties but outside of the Government, amongst backbenchers or rank and file members. So, at times these will need to be represented as separate party-based views by separate speakers, rather than by a single coalition voice.

Ric Bailey (Chief Adviser, Politics) says " We need to look at where the pivot of argument lies - sometimes it will, of course, still be between the political parties. But sometimes it will be between front-bench and back-bench; sometimes between Westminster and other political structures; sometimes between different factions of the same party."

Read his views and advice in full on the Editors' Blog here. Advice is available on an ongoing basis from Editorial Policy.

Twitter and Microblogging

Mobile Device with TwitterGuidance on the use of social networks has been revised to include specific advice on the use of twitter and other microblogs.

The guidance, which concerns both BBC and personal use of social media and blogs, was first published in 2008, before the widespread use of services such as twitter. However, the principles laid out two years ago are still relevant and have informed the BBC's approach to the use of new social networking tools, including microblogs, as they have become available.

Therefore, the revised edition of the guidance continues to set out those principles but makes specific reference to how they can be applied to microblogs. It includes guidance on references to microblogs on air, linking, re-tweeting, and avoiding bringing the BBC into disrepute through personal use of microblogs.

The revised guidance on BBC use of social networking, microblogs and other third party sites is here. The guidance for personal use can be read here.


Webpage with chapterisationTop Gear and 5 Live programmes are among roughly eighty BBC brands that have made use of 'chapterisation' - a tool that helps users find specific material within long-form content. It can also allow audiences to navigate easily to different aspects of an argument or to developing stories as they unfold.

At the same time, it also presents a number of editorial policy challenges - particularly for due impartiality, fairness and avoiding unnecessary offence.

New guidance is available to help meet the challenges of chapterisation. It includes advice on avoiding either eliminating or adding undue weight to particular aspects of an argument when creating chapters and preparing the audience for potentially offensive material.

The new chapterisation guidance is available here.

Gordon RamsayThe BBC Academy has produced an online slideshow summarising the findings of the BBC's Taste and Standards reasearch, conducted in the wake of Russell Brand's Radio 2 programme and published last year.

It was one of the most comprehensive research projects ever carried out into audience attitudes to potentially offensive material in broadcast media, and provides useful insights for anyone involved in the production of programmes and other content for the BBC.

The slideshow summarises the key findings of the reasearch report and its recommendations. It also provides an opportunity to watch and listen to some of the programmes used in the research. You can find it here.

Still from Easy RiderEditorial Policy will continue to tour its Roadshow around the UK over the next two months.

The first three Roadshows for 2010 have already taken place in Glasgow, Belfast and Cardiff. Hundreds of in-house and independent programme makers have taken the opportunity to come and discuss a wide range of ethical issues face-to-face with members of the Editorial Policy team.

The Roadshows offer a mix of interactive sessions, presentations and one-to-one meetings on subjects including Taste and Standards, Consent, Impartiality, Investigations, Partnerships, Use of Social Networking, Factual Drama and the new Editorial Guidelines.

The next Roadshow is in Bristol on 25th May, followed by Birmingham on 23rd June and Manchester on 6th July.

For further details, please contact Kim Thomas.

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