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Peter Day

People who work on news, current affairs or factual programmes, whether they are BBC staff or freelancers, should have no outside interests or commitments which could damage the BBC's reputation or the trust between the BBC and its audience over issues of impartiality, fairness and integrity.

Reporting business and outside interests - by Peter Day, business correspondent reporting for Global Business.

For many decades, the world of business was shunned by BBC news - too mysterious, too many brand names, too commercial.

On BBC World Service, that changed slowly, with increasing coverage of financial markets in the 1970s, extending into corporate doings and misdeeds in the 80s and 90s.

It took years to convince the newsroom editors that profits could be beneficial and companies really did affect the lives of millions. Now, of course, business news is bread and butter for every international broadcaster.

Reporting fairly

Applying the traditional BBC values of fairness, accuracy and balance to business reporting requires sharp common sense and a certain agility of mind.

In particular, business reporting requires more comment than other kinds of news: are these figures "good" or "bad"? is a reasonable question to try to answer.

The main question a business reporter must ask is: what's needed to tell the story properly?


Mentioning a brand name is natural if the product is the reason for corporate success or failure, or if it helps to identify the company. It's not "puffing", which is what it would have been seen as decades ago, and banned.

To tell the truth, broadcasters need the cooperation of the companies they cover. Business leaders often refuse to take part in the robust questioning which politicians are prepared to undergo. They are shy to offer general opinions.

Our job is to badger companies for access, and then ask the questions a listener would ask if he or she were there.


The official financial regulators now watch journalists closely, and the BBC requires its journalists to register their investment interests.

In the end, reporting business is a matter of trust. Trust and being trusted is the glue that binds working life, corporations, organizations, together.

Trust doesn't need rules, it's earned.

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