Editorial Policy Newsletter

Created on 14 Oct 2011

Welcome to the Newsletter

This latest digest from BBC Editorial Policy includes new guidance for anyone carrying out investigations and secret recording for BBC output and details of our most recent monthly meeting – standing room only for a discussion on Twitter.

Please forward this newsletter to any colleagues you think would benefit from reading it and encourage them to sign up to receive future editions direct via email.

Investigations Guidance and Secret Recording Guidance

Revised Editorial Policy guidance has been published on Investigations and on Secret Recording.

The Investigations guidance is for programme makers planning larger-scale investigations to reveal serious anti-social behaviour or crime, with a significant element of undercover work (and usually ongoing use of secret recording) central to the evidence-gathering.

The revision was undertaken after the BBC Trust upheld a complaint against a section of undercover footage in Panorama: Primark on the Rack, and is based on the best practice learned by BBC investigative programmes over the years.  It emphasises the need for note taking and record keeping that will authenticate material and to plan for the scrutiny and challenge that can often follow a successful investigation. There is also new advice on the operation of undercover journalists.

In addition, extra care and checks may be necessary when an investigation is carried out by a journalist with a demonstrable commitment to a relevant cause – to ensure our methods will be able to withstand robust scrutiny.

You can read and download the Investigations guidance here

The newly revised Secret Recording guidance is relevant to anyone looking to gather material secretly, and includes a new section on authentication of material. The Secret Recording guidance is here.

Use of Twitter

The latest September Editorial Policy Meeting considered the use of Twitter by staff and others who work for the BBC.

Twitter is a personal and informal medium, with followers frequently looking for diverse comment and instant opinion, and is a useful tool for communication with audiences. But it’s important that tweets do not bring the BBC into disrepute, for example by compromising impartiality or causing unnecessary offence.

There are different expectations for those tweeting on official BBC twitter accounts and those on personal accounts which have an explicit association with the BBC. Considerations are different again for those messaging on personal accounts where staff do not identify their connection with the BBC - although, even then, editorial staff and those in politically sensitive areas should take care not to be seen to support any political party or cause.

Detailed guidance on the use of Twitter and other social media is available here.

BBC staff who were unable to attend the monthly meeting can see the examples used and consider the issues raised by visiting the Editorial Policy homepage and clicking on the BBC staff banner.

Setting Up Action Lines

Programme makers are asked to contact BBC Audience Services as early as possible in the production process, whenever they would like to set up an action line or helpline for audiences.

BBC Audience Services provides off air information to support programmes where the subject matter could generate a significant need for some members of the audience to seek additional information or advice. 

An action line can detail relevant help organisations online or by telephone.  Audience Services work with these organisations to ensure they can support the volume of enquiries they may receive if mentioned by the BBC - so it's important to make arrangements early to ensure the best possible service is provided.

You can read the Editorial Guidelines on the use of off-air support services here.

What the Regulators Say

The latest edition of our companion newsletter, What the Regulators Say, summarises the most pertinent recent adjudications from the BBC Trust and Ofcom – both on BBC programmes and those from other broadcasters.

The new edition includes judgments on strong language on music radio, due accuracy when reporting the Middle East and the Eastenders cot death storyline.

Read it online here and click here to sign up to receive future editions directly by email. (Note that if you receive this Editorial Policy Newsletter by email, you will also automatically receive future editions of What the Regulators Say).

Editorial Policy Meeting

The next Editorial Policy monthly meeting is on Wednesday 19th October from 11.30am to 1.00pm in the Conference Centre, White City. It’s open to all BBC staff to come along and take part. The discussions will include Impartiality when Reporting Science and the Use of Pictures from Social Media and Third Party Websites.

Meanwhile, for staff in Salford, plans are being made to bring the most relevant discussions from recent monthly meetings to an event in MediaCity in December. Full details will be available soon. Sign up here to receive our future newsletters and ensure you get the information direct to your In Box.

Editorial Guidelines Modules

A reminder….

You can discover more about the Editorial Guidelines and how to apply them to your content in 25 short training modules currently available online through the BBC Academy website.

Each module covers a discrete section of the Guidelines, such as Accuracy in Factual Drama, Reporting Statistics, Crime, Secret Recording, Competitions, Children and Consent.

The training modules are not mandatory, but managers are expected to direct their staff to the relevant ones they want them to do if they are to work on their productions. Completed modules are automatically recorded on staff training histories and certificates are issued for freelancers and those in Indies. 

Click here to see all the Editorial Guidelines Training Modules.

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