BBCi BBC News BBC Sport BBC World Service BBC Weather A-Z Index
BBC World Service | Inside BBC Journalism | Accuracy
    Home | Impartiality | Accuracy | Fairness | Respect | Independence
  Monitoring Iraq: Brian Rotheray
  Reporting first-hand: Kate Adie
  Getting the facts in Colombia: Catalina Esparza
  Checking contributors: Beatrice Murail
  Statistics in India: Sanjeev Srivastava
  Preventing mistakes in Iran: Jim Muir
  Polls in the World Cup: Luis Restrepo
  Running news agency reports
  Using archive material
  Advertising for contributors
  Staging events and reconstructions
Jim Muir

When a serious factual error occurs, it is important to admit this clearly, frankly and quickly.

A timely correction may dissuade the aggrieved party from making a complaint. Saying what was wrong as well as putting it right can be important.

Preventing mistakes in Iran - by Jim Muir, the BBC's Tehran correspondent.

Although the BBC is the world's biggest newsgathering organisation and broadcasts to virtually every corner of the globe by one medium or several, as the Corporations' Tehran correspondent I have to think of myself as something of a local reporter.

That's because most of our bureau output comes back to Iran almost immediately in ways that have a huge impact.

Listeners and readers

While World Service Radio's English-language broadcasts are heard by a minority of English-speakers (or learners), willing to listen through the mush of poor short-wave reception, the Farsi service emissions are very widely listened to and monitored.

The recently-established Farsi website is also closely followed.

Although satellite dishes are officially restricted to those with a special permit, World TV is also widely watched.

Defending every word

Tehran is the only place in the world where I've been recognised by a member of the public from behind on a dark night.

This means that one has to be acutely aware of the absolute need for accurate reporting and to be able to defend every word written or spoken.

If it is a question of facts, a mistake broadcast on the BBC spreads like a drop of oil on water, and is hard to retrieve and correct. This can mean resisting pressures to broadcast immediately, and spending time making sure you're getting it right.

Interpreting facts

When it comes to interpretation - a key part of the job - one has to be equally sure of being on solid ground, even if it brings attacks from all sides.

Iran is a society in a ferment of political and social change. Despite many closures of reformist newspapers, many more have sprung up in their place, and in the lively debate now going on, there are few taboos.

That means delicate social questions such as prostitution, drug addiction, public hangings and floggings etc, which are all elements in the political struggle, are public issues that we don't avoid, though they have to be treated sensitively.

Often, it is a question of how something is presented, rather than the actual substance.

^^ Back to top << Back to Home