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We're watching you...

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Daniel Pearl | 13:38 UK time, Friday, 21 July 2006

It's become a cliché that new technology has changed TV, for ever.

Newsnight logoIn some ways the biggest change is how much closer we, as programme makers, are to our audience. If you email us during the programme the chances are that, if I'm editing, I'll read your message almost instantly. So on Wednesday night Ian emailed me during the programme to say: "Why is your interviewer standing while Menzies Campbell is sitting?"

Now unfortunately for Ian, the item (watch it here) was prerecorded, so even if I had agreed with him that Martha should sit, which I didn't, there wouldn't have been much I could have done. None the less, it's much easier for you all to tell us what you like and dislike, and the truth is we do read it. I recently found Jeremy slumped in front of his computer. He looked despondent and when I asked why, he briefly showed me his email inbox.

Let's face it, it's not that difficult to guess BBC email addresses - and a hell of a lot of people take a punt on his. I didn't read any of his messages but I can reassure you all that, from the look on his face, he had.

Anyway, communication from you to us is not new. What I think is new is that we can now know what you are talking about and interested in without you ever telling us. Sounds sinister but it's not really. It takes seconds on a site like Technorati to discover what people are talking about and searching for. This has begun to make an impact on the programme.

Newt GingrichSo, for example, late on Monday night the most talked about subject in the blog world was Newt Gingrich's appearance on America's Meet the Press, in which he said that we are in the midst of a Third World War.

The next day we contacted Gingrich and that night he repeated his claims on Newsnight (watch it here). So in that sense blogging had an immediate impact on Newsnight's running order.

Also, we know what you are saying about us (really, we do).

If you write anything about Newsnight, or about me, on a blog, I'll probably find it via Technorati. So for example, I know that there's a whole debate going on about Ming Campbell's performance on Newsnight - the question being asked is whether Ming is the Lib Dems' Iain Duncan Smith... see here or here.

The Technorati websiteThe thing I find strange about all this is that often people who write blogs, or contribute to them, somehow think that they are involved in a private forum.

I recently came across a comment claiming Jeremy disliked recording his weekly podcast. I posted a response and the blogger seemed appalled - "the BBC's watching us - spooky" was his reply. But if you write something about us on the internet surely I have every right to read it and respond - that's not spooky.

I had to confront this the other day. We often have students with us on work experience. Twice in the last 6 months I've come across blogs in which people trailing the programme have written things about the team. When I approached one of these people, her reponse was that the blog was supposed to be just for her and her friends!

It wasn't the confidentiality issue that bugged me, but that anyone would think that we as programme makers don't have as much right as everyone else to read what you're all writing, especially if you are writing about us. So, what do you think? Stick it on your blog and I'll respond.

Daniel Pearl is deputy editor of Newsnight


  • 1.
  • At 03:14 PM on 21 Jul 2006,
  • Ed wrote:

A fantastic post. Too many people claim the right to speak, and then express surpise because it's been listened to (or read). I'm relatively anti-blog in it's current state, and I think there's a lot more we need to do in order for people to realise what they really are, and how powerful they are. It's not just a free microphone to express anything for free! Handle power with care, and swallow the consequences of your no world-wide thoughts.

  • 2.
  • At 04:08 PM on 21 Jul 2006,
  • Enrico Louw wrote:

I can only echo the comment above, my sentiments exactly! Of course, we're all entitled to our own opinion but often, comments are made without prior thought or consideration.
PS. note how limited my comment is!
Enrico Louw, Johannesburg

  • 3.
  • At 04:10 PM on 21 Jul 2006,
  • Alan Clarke wrote:

I enjoyed your thought provoking comment and you brought home the virtual realtime nature of current affaires these days.

I currently do not have access to the BBC TV as I live abroad and have no cable so the interactive NewsNight website is a god-send. I also appreciate the humour...

Good post. I have a blog and it would be foolish of me to think that it is just for me to express my opinions. If you want to be private buy a diary. Once it is online anyone can read it and if you believe what you write then be prepared to accpet comments and to answer them accordingly. Its good to know the main BBC programmes such as newsnight are aware of what is going on in the blogosphere, and either using that as a direction for their programmes or setting the record straight.

  • 5.
  • At 04:24 PM on 21 Jul 2006,
  • Sean O'Conaill wrote:

Isn't there a danger in media editors deciding that what is newsworthy is what e.g. Technorati tell them we are talking about? i.e. that they lose their independent responsibility to decide that something else may actually be more important? Certainly, if Newsnight became simply a follower of 'Net gossip I would lose a good deal of the respect I have for the programme as an independent authority on what is newsworthy: you would have lost the ability to surprise and challenge me.

  • 6.
  • At 04:25 PM on 21 Jul 2006,
  • JEM wrote:

Interesting to see just how many still regard electronic communications, whether emails or blogs as private. I'd love to have seen the face of your work experience person on finding out that their comments re Newsnight Team had been rumbled...a fitting outcome for a breach of confidence.

  • 7.
  • At 04:35 PM on 21 Jul 2006,
  • jack oatmon wrote:

Kinda makes you wonder how many people the British and American intellegence agencies have got hired to sweep people's writing in search of whatever it is they're looking for that week. Let's take it a step more to the sinister. Corporations probably have people profiling potential customers constantly.
I was thinking of doing an information experiment where I manufacture two blogs: one blatantly pro-Israel, and one slanted to the side of Palestine or Lebanese civilians, both using the exact same language, but just switching alliances. Who wants to bet the pro-arab one would get more hits?
Anyway, it's not a question as to whether you have the right to follow comments about your program, it's just a bit of a narcissistic thing to do, so people are naturally going to get creeped out. Personally, I think it's cute.
-jack oatmon

You need to find out why your email posting keeps chopping up the urls embedded in the story. It's a bit irritating to cut and paste parts of the url three times.

Apart from that, very valid comments on the blogosphere. I'm amazed that more people don't realize that their employers can also read their personal posts. If you don't want people to read it, don't post it.

  • 9.
  • At 04:35 PM on 21 Jul 2006,
  • Alan Constable wrote:

Please define the word "BLOG".

  • 10.
  • At 04:36 PM on 21 Jul 2006,
  • Jamie wrote:

I agree. (Enrico- I think I win the shortest post competition!)

  • 11.
  • At 04:40 PM on 21 Jul 2006,
  • Rick wrote:

Interesting piece, Daniel.

I'm not sure I'm clever enough for 'blogging'. However, I do contribute to the Today Message Boards. It amazes me how the 'moderators' work. There must be a roomfull of them.

Newsnight is excellent 99% of the time. Don't know why Jeremy should get upset. He and Jon Snow are my favourite news people. Hard hitting and, generally, don't let the politicians off the hook. Sometimes I find myself shouting at the TV, Jeremy, for heaven's sake, ask him/her, xyz.........More power to them.

  • 12.
  • At 04:44 PM on 21 Jul 2006,
  • Roy Baker wrote:

First off, I don't know what a blog is, sounds like an abreviation of a swear word. That aside, I often email bbc news and while I have no problem with anyone at the beeb reading what I've said I'm not sure it should be read on air with full indentification. Declan Curry did this the other day, obviously with the intention of embarrassing the correspondent because he had called him a pratt. I think if reading out an email the name should be abreviated to initials plus the town. After all, we aren't getting your big fat wages, now that would make an interesting programme..................

  • 13.
  • At 04:48 PM on 21 Jul 2006,
  • Tony Smith wrote:

To all those "worried" that their "freedom of speech" is actually being read and digested, I have this thought - 'Before you open your mouth, first engage your brain".

I have a blog, and it used to have the facility for responses. But while it was often good and valuable to engage in debate with respondents, I just didn't have enough hours in the day to deal with some issues going on and on, and it seemed rude to just leave things hanging. Plus the minute you get into controversial territory (and dealing as I do with environmental issues there are many... I can only wonder what Newsnight gets itself into, and not just with Ethical Man, which has been mentioned a few times here!) it can all too often get a bit flaming silly, even when you as the initiator stay hands off from the get-go!

So I don't quite agree that you should have to accept comments, unless you want to. It's a personal web log. Obviously by making it freely available you need to accept that it will get read (why else do it?), and those who objected as stated in the post are plain daft. I treat my blog as an opportunity to publish things as would any writer/journalist (am or pro), but perhaps a bit more 'raw' and less constrained to provide an alternative to the corporate view.

My site has a Forum for those who wish to engage (though we are tough moderators on those who try to dominate agendas with aggressive tactics, as we prefer to encourage those who just wish to ask questions and seek helpful answers), and there are plenty of ways to reach me to take matters further. I'd like to think that if there were worthy points to be made to something I have posted, I'd be big enough to reprint them... along with my answer!

But as with any media, I guess I feel certain editorial control is not unfair for the reasons stated above (mine and this blog's rules).

The laws of libel still surely still apply if one is seriously agitated, and in most other cases it is perhaps best just to ignore anyone trivial just being silly, unfair, etc. If it's on your blog then you have your audience to consider. If it's on their blog, well, it's a free(ish) world.

And if you decide not to include this, fine. But it will of course be on mine!

  • 15.
  • At 05:04 PM on 21 Jul 2006,
  • Graham Tattersall wrote:

I think it is WONDERFUL that .. "the BBC is watching us" ..... because far too often comments I send directly to various departments and programmes at the BBC seem to be ignored ! Sometimes I even wonder if your name should be changed from BBC to "BBH" (Meaning BIG BLACK HOLE) as you seem to swallow everything while not even light can escape !

Recently I responded (TWICE in fact) to a request from the "Working Lunch" programme for comments from viewers familiar with a company they had mentioned in one of their programmes, but I STILL haven't had a reply from them or even an acknowledgement.

Similarly "Panorama" have been asking for stories to feature and/or investigate, and although I have responded SEVERAL TIMES, once again I have NEVER had a reply or an acknowldgement from them.

The SAME COMPLAINT applies to "The Politics Show" !

Only twice have I had a response from "Newsnight" despite SCORES of sumbissions.

In contrast, "Daily Politics" HAVE featured several of my comments "on-air" (although I never received email replies from them), while CH5's "The Wright Stuff" often air my comments and ALWAYS acknowledge my input, "Channel 4 News" have also broadcast some of my comments, but rarely email acknowledgements, while "NWT" ALWAYS send acknowledgements and have emailed me back several times while following up items I have sent them.

  • 16.
  • At 05:22 PM on 21 Jul 2006,
  • kelvin shell wrote:

funny how people think, if somebody was using a blog to talk about them they want to know about it, yet when they write about somebody else they seem to think that the person they are writtng about should not be able to read it, i agree with you, people should try to understand that if you write about somebody on the net or in a blog that the person you write has a good chance of seeing it, if you dont want them see it the only solution is not to write it in the first place.

  • 17.
  • At 05:25 PM on 21 Jul 2006,
  • Leslie Honeyman wrote:

I think the amount of time you spend thinking about yourselves is totally grotesque and seriously unhealthy for you and for us.

I wish the open plan office had as part of its layout a large, deep, weed entangled pond into which, upon perceiving your own miraculous reflection.....

Arts graduates will be able, possibly, to complete this on their own.....but probably not pat their heads at the same time

  • 18.
  • At 05:35 PM on 21 Jul 2006,
  • Paul D wrote:

Whoops - at least 3 supposed links in this email that were not hyperlinked. Not like the BBC. Tut, tut.

  • 19.
  • At 05:44 PM on 21 Jul 2006,
  • Matt Brown wrote:

Of course you're right, if you publish something on the web so that it can be accessed by everyone, you must accept it as such, & you should expect those you're talking about will be reading.

It's interesting the way the BBC has changed over the last few years.

Some years ago we asked a then senior figure at BBC London if he'd be interested talking to us about how the corporation was planning to cover the Mayor and Assembly.

As a site devoted to that topic it seemed a natural fit so you might imagine our surprise to receieve an email from this person's BBC email address setting out his rates for speaking to anyone.

They weren't at all small and we thought it a bit of a cheek to want to charge for talking about the work he's paid by BBC viewers to do.

Anyhow, any BBC employee wanting to post on our blog:

is more than welcome!

  • 21.
  • At 05:54 PM on 21 Jul 2006,
  • David Mackinder wrote:

Daniel, might not the fact that you've chosen to discuss in _your_ blog a matter that sounds like an internal, disciplinary issue be, in itself, somewhat problematic?

  • 22.
  • At 06:01 PM on 21 Jul 2006,
  • Blake wrote:

It never ceases to amaze me how some people can manage to get all the way through their various computer courses and not have a clue about what really happens "out there". But then, it also amazes me when a shop asssistant has to get a pen and paper out when they want to see how much change I have coming from $10.00 when I purchase an item for $8.80!

  • 23.
  • At 06:05 PM on 21 Jul 2006,
  • john wrote:

Good one! I like your style. Keep it up whatever Jeremy thinks. I am living a quite life in Lisbon now so enjoy some evening agro. Thanks John

  • 24.
  • At 06:19 PM on 21 Jul 2006,
  • Peter wrote:

Daniel's comments about Blogs (should that be a capital B?) are interesting, as they seem to highlight the assumptions of a lot of people.
1) The Internet is public domain.
2) If (1) is true, then forget about any 'private' comments, as anyone can see them!
3) Assuming that you want privacy, don't put it in a Blog!!!
4) for privacy, write a letter - use the Post Office


Before I started blogging I did a bit of research on how I might go about it. One of the best pieces of advice I found was to write as if a future employer might one day read it. I follow this, not just because that might be true, but because it reminds me every time I write that anyone could read it and that it will reflect on me. We are used to writing as a private form of communication, forgetting that when a stranger reads it there is plenty of scope for misunderstanding. In forums emoticons have developed to cope with this but on a more formal blog not just what we say but how we say it become much more important than some bloggers realise.

  • 26.
  • At 09:31 PM on 21 Jul 2006,
  • Jean Price wrote:

Please, what exactly is a 'blog'? It is a word I have heard/read a lot recently, but can only guess at its meaning.

Jean Price

  • 27.
  • At 09:42 PM on 21 Jul 2006,
  • Jovan wrote:

Great post! I've linked to it on my blog. And for those who asked "blog" is an abbreviation of "web log", originally sort of an online diary which has morphed into the "broadsheet" of the 21st century. Many years ago, an editor, in responding to the toast, "To the free press", said, "Yes, the press is free to anyone who owns one!". Now all it takes is internet access!

  • 28.
  • At 01:17 AM on 22 Jul 2006,
  • Sylvia wrote:

Good on you! I have come to hate modern technology, it has no depth and I pray that you and Jeremy will continue, with your appreciated courage, to continue probing for some sort of truth if we are all to survive on our planet. Thank you! Life is pretty demoralising these days and you are all much apprecitaed.

  • 29.
  • At 04:32 AM on 22 Jul 2006,
  • Claire van den Broek wrote:

While I agree with you to some degree, I would say that a blog, unless explicitely advertised or linked to elsewhere by its owner, should be seen as something like a private conversation. Sure I can hear everything someone is saying next to me at Starbucks, but does that mean I should listen in and comment on their conversation? Just because that conversation is being conducted in a public space?

Naturally the internet blurs lines between private and public sphere, and one could limit posts to friends if they absolutely wish to, but nevertheless I disagree with the assumption that one should have the right to interfere with a discussion on a privately owned blog written by a stranger.

ًNice post, communication speeds are really absurd if one sits back and thinks about it. I am typing away on the East Coast in the states...and bam everyone can read it around the world. Tell this to someone 35 or 50 years ago...they'd think your nuts. We're living in a whole new world!


This is a fantastic post/piece Daniel. I think the BBC is a wonderful service, and I wish the ABC had the resources that the Beeb has.

Roy Baker, you are a cynic!

David Mackinder, I think Daniel is being open and transparent about process within the organisation, which is to be commended, especially since employees of the Beed are public servants after a fashion. Furthermore, his points are illustrative.

this is class!!
well its BBS job.. "To watch
and so is our to later.. watch what you watch...

well.. no apart from the pun.. fact is that it is an amazingly interesting phenomenon to perceieve and comprehend, How much more connected we have become...
and by WE .. i mean a very large number of peeps..

kudos to the so called british Broad CASTING Company..

Isn't it a bit worrying that people are getting work experience on the BBC's flagship news programme (surely something that thousands of people would sell their grannies for), when they're so dim they don't understand how interactive media works? I think this says as much about BBC HR policy as it does about the individuals involved.

  • 34.
  • At 07:26 AM on 22 Jul 2006,
  • artisan002 wrote:

Well, I perfectly understand your complaints and comments on the matter. In fact, I rather agree. And I'm actually a little impressed that any of you folks are taking the time to read anything of the sort. That having been said, I'm less aware of how and/or why people would feel justified in complaining about you perusing their blog space(s). If these people are that concerned about you reading their blogs (note that they are not privately held diaries or similar), then, all they need to do is set them up as friends only posts. It's not as if it's a complicated effect to pull off. Otherwise, they can just deal with it and shut their yapping holes.

Hear, hear! It's very true - the internet is neither private nor anonymous. I think *that* should the fundamental thing people learn before they go online. Far too many folks actually believe you can control information online ... for all practical purposes, you can't.

And yes, I blog about the BBC too. :)

  • 36.
  • At 07:39 AM on 22 Jul 2006,
  • Will Whelehan wrote:

Interesting how quickly we surrender our rights. Yes, I do demand a degree of privacy with regard to my e-mail. It is akin to surface mail and should be perceived and protected in a like manner. And that is a human, rather than civil, right.

If I blog and it is worthy, they will read and I have no right to complain.

I find it amazing that people are so naive as to think that their blogs are private and only meant for their friends.

I would expect any body involved in the web and blogging in particular to be keeping a track of what people say about them and their blogs.

I occassionaly post BBC articles on my blog (always acknowledging copyright) and like the thought that guys at the Beeb might be lead to read my blog as a result.

Great post by the way.

  • 38.
  • At 09:07 AM on 22 Jul 2006,
  • Brian Wall wrote:

I feel there is a tendency for people to want to express their 'public' views privately - ie, they want to have their say, such as on a blogsite, but not necessarily expect to be held to account for those views. It is almost as if any subsequent 'exposure' to public scrutiny is seen as a form of betrayal or exploitation. Yet we need people to be more prepared to state their most fervently held opinions without such reserve, because that's what helps to sustain a democratic society. By the same token, we often fight shy of openly criticising our political leaders when they fail us, whilst being quite happy to highlight their shortcomings within the confines of our own homes - or down at the pub. It is only through collective, vocal opposition to bad governance, for example, that real pressure can be exerted and change brought about. So let's surrender our reticence to be seen and heard in the greater arena. There is too much at stake not to raise our voices and be identified for what we believe in. And it's time we all recognised that there is no shame in standing by your principles.

I think these sweeping generalisations are a bit unfair. Yes, there are a lot of less intelligent people out there blogging (like parenthood, there is no intelligence test to be eligible for a blog) but most of us are quite aware that it's a very public forum.

Personally, I frequently mention how much I admire Nigel Slater on my blog, but alas he has yet to respond! (Perhaps he's afraid I'll turn out to be a blogging stalker? ; ))

  • 40.
  • At 09:51 AM on 22 Jul 2006,
  • Laurie wrote:

Good article to prompt candid discussion. As our tools keep changing, standards of social behavior get confused and muddled.

Many people need reminding about not only what IS PUBLIC, but also the ethics of any public disclosure, breaching confidences and the responsibility that goes with any public speech. At the exact same time, employers, companies, power brokers, need to be reminded when to back off and stop punishing those who express themselves about their own lives - especially when employer names are NOT used. As individuals, we are not up for sale.

I loved what someone said - "If you want privacy, buy a diary." Reviewing a publically accessible on-line comment on something that concerns you or is even ABOUT YOU (like the BBC folks) is hardly sinister! And those posted comments are only a fraction of the equation of good journalism.

So, BBC-guy, read away!

I'm reminded of the times when online journaling just started, around 1996, and most journals would carry a disclaimer that said something like "If you know me in real life,you're not allowed to read this". I loved that one. If diarists don't want other people to read their posts, then why put them on the net? (And if it's just for the happy few, then use password protection and email your friends the password.)

Personally I hope the whole bl*g-hype will die down soon. Far too many of them around, most are utterly boring, and they're given too much attention by the traditional media.

  • 42.
  • At 10:08 AM on 22 Jul 2006,
  • Duncan wrote:

Yes, well, the blog, and the peculiar arrogance being a blogger seems to foster, are products of the world of illusion and deceit that is the computer screen, which itself is of course a product of good old American marketing techniques. Make people believe they are free individuals, with the inalienable right to say whatever they want and control the world they live in. Then, when reality gets in the way, sell them palliative products.

So it isn't surprising that the blog contains the same logical flaw. The blogger bangs on about liberty and the right to say what s/he wants, and then turns round red in the face with righteous anger when someone actually reads it and confronts them with reality. Bloggers should get out more. So should the politicians who pay them more and more attention.

  • 43.
  • At 10:16 AM on 22 Jul 2006,
  • /mel/ wrote:

Some time ago I discovered that a throwaway comment I made on the smoking ban was published in a national newspaper.

I was somewhat surprised, and perhaps a little put out that I was quoted out of context. I was also perturbed that at least one journalist though that trawling blogs for newsworthy comment was something worthwhile to do. Surely there are better ways of providing news? To me it smacks of laziness and gossip-mongering (or gossip-prolonging).

At the end of the day though it was a public post and so I was not at all bothered about 'rights' or breaches of privacy.

  • 44.
  • At 11:00 AM on 22 Jul 2006,
  • Kenny wrote:

A comment on the "spooky" nature of the BBC monitoring blogs.
The BBC must realize it is big enough and bad enough to be seen as a world "force". The clout that the BBC has at its collective disposal is in the same league as various governments. The media in general can, and does, shape world events. Not only does the BBC inform us on what to think about (choosing news stories), but they can direct that thinking as well (editorial comments and "spin"). If the BBC consciously does this, is difficult to say. Yet the fact remains: The BBC can build up or crush just about anybody, as it sees fit. That is the spooky part.

Consider, if on any given blog, a comment was posed from the CIA, or equal, saying innocently enough that "we are reading your comments". The blogger would probably get very nervous, and it would seem "spooky". In the eyes of many, the BBC is an authority figure just like the police or the CIA. Maybe more dangerous, since there is little that can be done against character assassination. I am not basically anti-BBC, but there has been abuses and a measure of "spin". I can't say if the BBC is really getting better or worst in this aspect. What journalists have to realize is, they aren’t the keeper of the faith and the trust of the people that they think they are. The BBC is a six hundred pound gorilla, and could easily do a lot of damage in any fragile blog space, if sufficiently annoyed.

As if. What a load of rubbish. The BBC don't even answer their official complaints, and you want us to believe that Editors or Deputy Editors of Newsnight are going to comment on our blogs? As a reader of Media Lens ( ) I know only too well the silence that emanates from the BBC when they get caught peddling propaganda that benefits leaders of foreign lands over the good of their own people.

I don't know what cloud you're living on Daniel, but with your salary it surely has a silver lining.

However, I am going to take you at your word. I have just started my own blog, and when I comment on Newsnight programmes I will be expecting your answer.

  • 46.
  • At 11:25 AM on 22 Jul 2006,
  • Hossam Eldin Ragab wrote:

Dear Daniel,
This is my first ever comment about your Newsnight.
What a refreshig thought, that you are up to the minute with all our thoughts.
I am a news-aholic, British Egyptian Moslem as you might have guessed by my name.
I get my fix from watching newsnight, and the extra kick comes if Jermy is presenting it.
The man I admire so much, his interviewing technique and no nonsese approach to his guests and comments. I believe he is the most honest and sincere person who tries to get to the bottom of the issue without beating around the bush. I just wish there were more people like him at the BBC.
My only little gripe is that I have to watch Aljazeera and other arab channels to get the complete picture from both sides, as I find that the BBC's angle in general is one sided to a certain extent.
What annoys me more is that I can watch an article in Aljazeera, then find it two days later on the BBC. Why? I am British and proud of it and think that I should watch it first on the BBC, and not after it has been revealed by every one else, it makes me feel that you were not allowed to air it first.
Why don't I hear about the double standards of the American government and our dear "Yo Blair"? Why don't I hear about the democracy in the civilised world that allows the Veto at the UN to control the world to its user own benefits?
And would you please ask Jeremy to enlighten me (maybe in one of his programmes)about the difference between terrorism in the world and people ressistance to occupation and freedom fighters?
I do not condone any violence, but I try to see other people point of view.
Few months ago when MI6 were looking for Arabic translators, I was contemplating offering my service, but I decided I'd better not. It is better to keep quite and stay low and not get involved in anything like that. Now I am glad I did after hearing that most of the people were investigated and that they were infiltrators.
I just hope I do not get in trouble from voicing my feelings to you.
A lot of people complain in general about the BBC. My honest opinion is that you are all great, you all do a great job, your website is full of knowledge on tap to everyone and the social benefit you provide to us is second to none.
May you all prosper.
Kind regards,

  • 47.
  • At 11:29 AM on 22 Jul 2006,
  • alex wrote:

It's always amusing to see how some people think they are anonymous on the Internet, especially bloggers. The only reason a lot of bloggers experience some privacy is because their blogs are almost as dull as their life(which consists of blogging too much).

  • 48.
  • At 11:32 AM on 22 Jul 2006,
  • abhaymdivekar wrote:

Dear Editor,Ihave been a avid listener of BBC radio since the sixties when I was in school and one of my favourite programs was Scotland-Yard confidential,since then came bbc tv and needless to say I am addicted to your newshour,so much so that when the city where Ilive,MUMBAI was bombed in the peak hour trains I immediately turned to bbc tv and not our local tv news.This is the first time in my 57yrs that Iam writing to bbc,I am thrilled and would apprecite an answer. regards Abhay.

  • 49.
  • At 11:58 AM on 22 Jul 2006,
  • * (asterisk) wrote:

An interesting post. And I think it's good that the BBC, or indeed anyone in a position of influence, is listening to what blogland is saying. This is the voice of the people, and it is probably a better cross-section of the population, both domestic and international, than any newspaper's letters page or TV company's complaints department could ever hope to represent. Thanks.

I guess there is an awful lot of niavety still within the current "blogosphere", with regards to who is actually reading and using the internet. It seems that in the case of your Work Experience participants they assumed only the "cool", "hip", and "trendy" people read blogs and take an interest in online activities. And no offense Daniel, but in any case your work boss usually doesnt fall under any of those categories.

More like, what do you mean you dont spend all day sitting around doing nothing? You actually read blogs?

  • 51.
  • At 12:08 PM on 22 Jul 2006,
  • Johnny Nationalservice wrote:

Harrumph! The internet is becoming more and more like nineteen-eighty bloody four every day, it's a disgrace I tell you!

*Ruffles daily mail*

  • 52.
  • At 12:10 PM on 22 Jul 2006,
  • Brian May wrote:


A weblog, which is usually shortened to blog, is a type of website where entries are made (such as in a journal or diary), displayed in a reverse chronological order. Blogs often provide commentary or news on a particular subject, such as food, politics, or local news; some function as more personal online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic. Most blogs are primarily textual although many focus on photographs, videos or audio. [Source]

  • 53.
  • At 12:10 PM on 22 Jul 2006,
  • Tom C wrote:

YouTube is a prime example of blogging taken to a far more personal level. People are becoming famous (albeit, within a "small" community) within days of posting material, and it's often easy to forget who your comments are aimed at. Blogging seemed to originally be an anonymous activity, but because of the social networks, everyone wants everyone else to be aware of them and their lives, hence the masks have now been removed. It's all a matter of how you wish to use the technology in front of you. For the use of others, or for the use of yourself.

For those of you new to the term 'blog', it's short for web log. It's an on-line diary which is held in html form, on a web server. It's accessible with any device with an internet connection. They're used mainly to express opinion, although some are incredibly banal in what they record. The other problem is that there's thousands - if not millions - of them. I agree with you that some naive blog users don't quite understand the power under their fingertips. Should these people be allowed to use them?

A good post.

When I started blogging I didn't think anyone read what I posted, but then started to get a few comments. I'd often read the sites of the commentators and I had a small informal network of places to visit.

What changed for me was blogroles, web tracking and hit counters. Suddenly I realised who was looking ( yes I've seen the BBC going past - not surprising as I've often blogged about Nick Robinson, who perhaps get worse treatment from the blosphere than Jeremy. )

The downside is it gets a little competitive. The upside is that I often think twice about what I blog - but try not to remove the element of immediacy that make blogs so compelling. ( Even if any of my short comings have a wider audience. )

  • 56.
  • At 12:30 PM on 22 Jul 2006,
  • Ragnar wrote:

What makes you think you have a right to read private blogs? Do you also have the right to open snail mail if you suspect it may be about you?

  • 57.
  • At 12:52 PM on 22 Jul 2006,
  • Christine wrote:

Ragner, they're not private blogs, that's the whole issue.

Putting a blog on the internet where it can be found via a search engine of website like the one Daniel mentioned is the same as putting your mail on a notice board where everyone can read it.

If you don't want your mail read, seal it and post it. If you don't want your views read send an e-mail to all your friends instead of posting it on the internet notice board.

Blogs are public, whether we like it or not.

I have a personal web site. It contains poor-quality articles for the world to read, and is crawled by the search engines.

I have a blog, after saying I wouldn't for many long years. A blog is simply a personal web site with easy authoring and certain formatting conventions. Typically it is also crawled by the search engines. I consider that anything posted there is visible for the world to read. There's no difference other than formatting, and that the content I blog is even less worth reading than the content on my web site.

It's more amusing, and sometimes more revealing, to see comments on others' blogs - especially the social ones. I've had a couple of occasions where others have posted details of my life that I may not have elected to post myself, with clear indication of who they're about. Maintaining one's privacy when others can post details about oneself is sometimes difficult.

Incidentally, to the poster who wondered how many people the intelligence services employ to monitor communications: it seems reasonable to assume that ECHELON could be extended to listen to a reasonable amount of Internet traffic via eavesdroppers in ISPs' machine rooms or on fibres, if it hasn't already been. Why use humans when machines can do the job more effectively?

I run weblogs for others and some blogs of my own, and it is fascinating to watch visitor activity. Web servers have logs which record not just the arrival of a visitor, but everything that can be noted about them: browser, operating system, ip and country of origin, pages visited and times, and so on. I have noticed that all interesting blogs (and web pages) get visited by various government agencies, most commonly by the US military.

Just as Daniel has pointed out, there may be more visitors than a blogger is aware of, so also the website owner can see that there are many visitors than one may otherwise suspect.

I agree completely with what you say in your entry. I must admit though until recently I had no idea that our Blogs or Journals were read, and could be read by thousands of people and even more scarily, the people we were discussing on them.

What made me realise was that part of my Journal was printed in The Guardian along with my Journal address and all without my knowledge. I was never for once appalled, just astounded they had found it and more astounded they had read it.

Anything we write on the web is available to be read by anyone, and if we have anything to say about people or programmes, either good or bad, we can't really moan if they respond. I know I'd respond if I found something about me!

A Blog is not private unless it's done as a friends only post. It's not the same as letters or a diary, because its publically available.

Keep up the good work!

  • 61.
  • At 01:13 PM on 22 Jul 2006,
  • Simon Gray wrote:

"Also, we know what you are saying about us (really, we do)."

Very Orwellian.

In once sense good - we pay you; and perhaps you should take heed of our criticisms of your services.

In another sense - get a grip! Are you reading blogs during office hours? Many others would be reprimanded for that.

And to reference a post above - please don't fall in love with the reflection in Echo's pond; you may just fade away...

  • 62.
  • At 01:18 PM on 22 Jul 2006,
  • Ruth wrote:

I'm not a big fan of blogs but I do enjoy reading some from time to time. What interests me is that there are also a lot of people out that would don't blog and don't have an outline presence. Sure, they have email and use the internet. But for many people, including me, who are "time poor" and work six to seven days a week to make ends meet, writing a blog is simply too time-consuming.

I guess one could compare it to people who write in letters to editors (often the same people over and over again), or people who complain the loudest at a store, etc etc. Their voices are the ones that are heard.

My point I suppose is that bloggers, while often reflecting a vast cross-section of society and a diversity of opinion that spans the globe, are still frequently people who are privileged enough to have the time, the money and other resources to post their comments or express their feelings online. Perhaps sometimes we tend to forget that they are not the only voices we should be listening to.

"I would say that a blog, unless explicitely advertised or linked to elsewhere by its owner, should be seen as something like a private conversation." - As private as if you put your diary in the newsagents! I write my blog purely from a personal perspective and I now get over 30,000 readers a month, which I guess puts me on a par with the monthly mags and niche publications that sell in your newsagents.

Also -and I am suprised nobody has made this comment - despite blogs and podcasts levelling the playing field to a certain extent, there is a great disparity in terms of finance between BBC generated content and the rest of us.

Almost all blogs are self-funded, free to the reader, and very often make little or nothing for the writer, whereas the BBC is very wealthy by comparison - wealthy enough to employ dozens of people on one programe/publication - and has a sophisticated marketing machine BBC Worldwide flogging its government-funded culture 24/7.

  • 64.
  • At 01:39 PM on 22 Jul 2006,
  • ganesh wrote:

Program proves your standard we expect a hot in depth analysis program about the recent crisis in Lebanon

  • 65.
  • At 01:46 PM on 22 Jul 2006,
  • Ron F wrote:

jack oatmon -

"Kinda makes you wonder how many people the British and American intellegence agencies have got hired to sweep people's writing in search of whatever it is they're looking for that week."

You mean like this?

$450,000 Blogs Study May Provide Credible Information
U.S. Dept of Defense

ARLINGTON, Va., June 29, 2006 – The Air Force Office of Scientific Research recently began funding a new research area that includes a study of blogs. Blog research may provide information analysts and warfighters with invaluable help in fighting the war on terrorism... cont

  • 66.
  • At 01:51 PM on 22 Jul 2006,
  • Paul wrote:

Ragnar - blogs are NOT private; they are more akin to Luther pasting up the 95 Theses. Only much more so - not only because of the reach of the 'net but also because search engines can distill the content so effectively.

Anyone who wants greater privacy needs to either encrypt their blog, or password the pages; that's the best metaphor for a sealed letter. The greatest privacy comes from using non-web methods to communicate with one's own circle.

The BBC would be derelict if it did not take account of the blogosphere, and what is being said there. It is incumbent on them to keep an ear to all public forums, and report what they find.

The fine line comes in using the data but not being driven by it. At present, I believe that the BBC is (just) managing to do this - at least they are doing a rather better job in this area than our elected government!

  • 67.
  • At 01:54 PM on 22 Jul 2006,
  • JK wrote:

If only BBC staff spent more time responding to private and personal enquiries from viewers and not snooping around the net to make sure no one is publically 'bad-mouthing' them, then that would be a good start.

Get over you're pathetic ego's!

  • 68.
  • At 01:57 PM on 22 Jul 2006,
  • Kimberley Leonard wrote:

Your name is Daniel Pearl? Now that's spooky.

  • 69.
  • At 01:57 PM on 22 Jul 2006,
  • Mike wrote:

Ragnar - they're not reading private blogs. They're reading public blogs.

Complaining that the BBC have read a public blog is like writing a letter to the Telegraph about the BBC, and then complaining when someone from the BBC reads it and responds.

If you don't want people you don't know reading your blog, you should password protect it or just not post it in the first place.

well said please do visit my space beacuse i would like to get my thoughts getting to reach more and more people and i want more people to visit my blog and when it comes to backup like person like you at BBC well best thing it can happen to me as my thought gets to right people.

iam very happy for the good job you have done to send me the thenight news ,but what i want is to give good breaking nightnews thanks you very much mr. Daniel

  • 72.
  • At 02:11 PM on 22 Jul 2006,
  • Apple wrote:

You don't get private blogs. The closest you get is friends-only LiveJournals, and those are more like communities than blogs. Blogs by their very nature are public. If a blogger doesn't want you to read something, he shouldn't put it on the Internet in public view.

Excellent post. It's reassuring rather than intimidating to know that your ramblings can have an affect on decision making. It reinforces the idea that we have the power to make a difference - especially if the people your writing targets are listening and paying attention. By posting a blog you are inviting a global audience to share in your thoughts. Your throwaway comments and spontaneous ideas become public domain, free for anyone to see. Those of you with concerns about privacy and your thoughts being personal - try keeping a diary under your pillow - blogging is simply not for you.

Ragnar's comment illustrates one problem with blogging: lack of tone of voice - is he being ironic or has he just missed the point?

It is a little unfair though to criticise those who don't realise or forget that blogs are accessible to anyone. Many blogging areas emphasise community aspects of blogging: blog posts are seen as rather like notices posted on a town hall noticeboard.

The BBC News pages currently have 'most read' and 'most emailed' lists - why not also have a most linked list?

Hi Daniel,
First off, please accept my thanks for the image of Jeremy slumped over his Inbox. It is heartening to see at least one other person in the world getting despondent by the amount of mail he receives.

You sketch the naiveté of most Bloggers quite pointedly. However, in their defence, most Bloggers see their Blog as an extension of any pub. What they're writing is meant as a personal comment, made to a circle of friends, who, presumably, read their Blog. And, like overhearing comments in a pub, others overhear their Blog.

They tend to forget that a Blog, sorry Ragner, is not 'private' in the sense that it is confidential. A Blog that is meant as a kind of diary is, however, private, in the sense that it is about things Bloggers care about, or things that have happened to them.
Things get complex when a Blogger writes things, about e.g. co-workers, that are highly personal, e.g. he's so sexy, or she's so beautiful. The problem lies in the fact that co-workers usually can identify themselves, but the general public can't. The co-wrkers do take, and I feel rightly so, offence. Their personal working life isn't meant for the general public.

This doesn't excuse the Blogger to just make any comment on his or her Blog with the argumentation that it is meant for family/friends/neighbours or whatever.
A Blogger must be shown the consequences of their actions, and be given ample opportunity to correct their ways.

Having said this, as a journalist you show some naiveté by clearly being surprised at comments regarding the Newsnight team appearing in the public domain. If you, as a journalist, regard comments made by Tony Blair in front of a open microphone, even confidential comments, whilst thinking the comments are made in private, newsworthy, you lose some right in finding remarks you, or members of your team, made in the privacy of work, as confidential.
Mind, I don't apologise making comments of co-workers public. But I do feel that journalists especially might take in mind the fact that confidential comments can be, and obviously have been, become public, and even newsworthy.

In the era of the internet, the whole idea of "privacy" has gone for a toss. Let's, therefore, be prepared to face the consequences...

  • 77.
  • At 02:24 PM on 22 Jul 2006,
  • Pádraig Ó hEochaidh wrote:

Thanks for this post, it's nice to know the BBC is listening.

Ragnar, you seem confused about the nature of blogging. The 'private' blogs mentioned were in fact entirely public, published on the web for all to read, it's just that the author hadn't considered the possibility that anyone beyond their narrow circle would bother to do so. The analogy with opening snail mail is false - it's more like reading someone's free newspaper they have stacked up in the town square for public consumption. If people want to publish truly private blogs there are all manner of ways in which they can do so, such as password protection of access to their websites, letting only their chosen audience in on the password.

Also, I have to worry somewhat about all these people asking what a blog is? Since anyone commenting here is evidently sat a computer connected to the internet, it's so trivial as to beggar belief for them to put the word into a search engine, or an encyclopaedia or dictionary site. Put 'blog' into Google and top of the results list is a comprehensive Wikipedia entry about blogging. It's rather like watching television with a copy of the Radio Times, and phoning the BBC up to ask what's on, when the listings are at your fingertips!

  • 78.
  • At 02:36 PM on 22 Jul 2006,
  • Elizabeth wrote:

I recently had one of my blogs quoted in a national newspaper. I nearly choked on the Eccles cake I was eating at Betty's in Harrogate. After I got over the shock (which took the best part of the day) I had a good chuckle about it. The moral of the story is never write anything that you are ashamed to put your name to and most importantly of all make sure its accurate. I stand by my blog and am glad it reached a wider audience.

  • 79.
  • At 02:40 PM on 22 Jul 2006,
  • Alan Jenkins wrote:

Very thought-provoking post, I think it's impressive that the BBC editorial team are using modern technology in ways that actually improves programming. Well done!

Most people who blog don't realise that their blog software automatically pings Technorati et al. In my opinion these options should be turned off by default. But, that's technology for you.

Thus, they're greatly surprised when their 'private' blog attracts attention.

Of course, when you know your blog is going public, then it's almost impossible to get attention, unless you deliberately step over the line.

  • 81.
  • At 03:05 PM on 22 Jul 2006,
  • Arty Smokes wrote:

I just clicked the Technorati link and it revealed that the current most-searched term is "Newsnight".

  • 82.
  • At 03:06 PM on 22 Jul 2006,
  • Gabrielle wrote:

Oh yes, a healthy amount of paranoia is always necessary. I always assume the entire internet is reading my blog, rather than the couple of people who do. Everyone should think that way, it would reduce the number of low quality journals.

Blogging is tremendous.

For the first time in history, the ordinary person has the platform to express his or her opinions - rather than this being the exclusive right of the press and broadcast barons.

Whereas certain organisations (I can't name the main one, or my comment won't see daylight) aimed to control everything, they will in a comparatively short time find that they then control nothing.

It's called the mass amateurisation of everything. It's also called the mass democratisation of opinion.

You can hit back really quite hard, yet remain within the law. More power to (good) bloggers' elbows!

  • 84.
  • At 03:25 PM on 22 Jul 2006,
  • Douglas Houston wrote:

There's no such thing as a private blog.

It's good to see that the mainstream media is, at last, beginning to realise it does not have a monopoly on setting the news agenda, as events over the past couple of weeks, including in your own programme, have made clear :) The interview with the rather bizarre Ann Coulter a couple of weeks ago on Newsnight made very clear just how much some of your journalists have still to learn. It is good, thought, that you allow comments and respond.

I've been blogging for over 4 years now and before that had a similar comment area in my website - bloggers blog for a variet of reasons of course although I do believe that those who identify themselves, rather than remain completely anonymous, are rather more to my liking. With freedom comes responsibility - both in the MSM and in 'bloggiedom'.

  • 86.
  • At 03:57 PM on 22 Jul 2006,
  • Jeremy wrote:

Ragnar: "private blog" is an oxymoron. Blogs are like posters on the wall: the whole point is that anyone can read them.

Blogs, as for the Internet in general, have only been around for a few years. It'll take a while for people to realize what they're good for (e.g. Daniel's post, an insight that makes the BBC seem, well, more human) and what they're not (a medium for private / sensitive / potentially offensive thoughts).

  • 87.
  • At 04:07 PM on 22 Jul 2006,
  • Bryan wrote:

If you really are reading blogs about the BBC it doesn't seem to be making much difference. You are still the same old left-wing, university-miseducated bunch you've been for decades - anti-Israel, anti-America, anti-UK, pro-socialism, pro-Palestinian, anti-war, anti-fox hunting, pro-human rights (only for specific groups), pro-choice, pro-green, anti-white, pro-black, pro-'Asian'....

If you pay attention to the blogs you'll find more than enough evidence to back this perception.

Question is, where would you be getting the funds to promote your one-sided worldview if you didn't have the British taxpayer to line your pockets on pain of imprisonment?

And to save you the trouble of snooping around to check on my licence payment, I'm not a UK citizen.

  • 88.
  • At 04:41 PM on 22 Jul 2006,
  • Fuyo wrote:

Ragnar's comment is interesting and I somewhat understand it - you don't expect people you don't know to bother or be interested.

However to blog publically is to talk publically, as if you were sitting in an open air cafe talking to the table, but blindfolded. You may expect only those who know you to come over and bother to sit at the table to listen, but someone may walk past and think you are interesting and stop by. You can't see them do it and can't stop them.

If you don't want the general public to be able to read your 'private' blog then join a service that allows you to publish privatly that uses some security measure that allows you to choose who will read.

Public blogging is PUBLIC, however much you feel safe and secure in your home, in front of your computer.

We scrawl our electronic thoughts on the virtual blog-wall for whoever passes by - don't blame those who stop and read a strangers graffiti.

I must say, I read the Biased-BBC blog often and it shows up just how biased you lot really are. Your disgraceful politicising of stories, your spin, your lies and deceit. The lot.

You watching us? No. Us watching you.

  • 90.
  • At 04:48 PM on 22 Jul 2006,
  • miika wrote:

erm, Ragnar? The whole idea behind weblogs is that they have the ability to interlink to begin with.

It's only "private" if you have access control in place. Otherwise, not only can the world see it, but so can Google, and then everyone in the world will see if for a very long time to come.

Perhaps the better question would be: If it's that private, why would someone post it on a system that's designed to be searched, indexed, tabulated, optimized, syndicated, distributed, and promoted?

Next I guess I'll ask to take out a personal ad in the Times but only have it readable by 3 people in Norwich.

You link to two LibDem blogs and believe that they don't expect "outside" people to read them. Yet the posts get syndicated on LibDemsBlogs which we all know is read by the BBC politics team (I should know you called me an anorak!)

  • 92.
  • At 04:55 PM on 22 Jul 2006,
  • Salvatore Circo wrote:

I totally agree with the intial posting. I think that some people never really leave the play ground and it's extremely amusing to see how seriously some people take themselves and their opinions. No.56 for example - get real or get of the net.

  • 93.
  • At 05:05 PM on 22 Jul 2006,
  • Ben wrote:

Of course there is nothing wrong with the BBC checking out blogs, or even commenting in response to posts. I'd just have a one observation on the dangers of assuming that the response is representative. I run a fairly popular website (although not a blog) and was long naive enough to assume that comments posted we're somewhat indicative of the general reaction of my audience - the moral from any research we do is that they are representative of a fairly small, self selecting group. Doesn't make it less interesting or useful, just means that time spent responding to the views of a minority *might* be as well (or better) spent addressing the needs of the wider audience.

Oh and Ragnar the only 'private blog' would be one with a password protection that didn't invite public comments..

  • 94.
  • At 05:08 PM on 22 Jul 2006,
  • Jay wrote:

Wow. While I'm sure you're probabliy thinking, 'what's the big deal with reading private blogs when they're so easy yo find?', that doesn't make it right. Yes, it was pertaining to you, but was it addressed to you? Was it sent to your e-mail at, sitting there in your Inbox waiting for you? No, it wasn't. Which probably meant, it wasn't for you. And if it wasn't for you, then you're invading someone's privacy. It's like George Orwell all over again.
I'm not saying it isn't done. Hey, I'm sure the US government didn't get all of its information by asking nicely. But have you ever seen them respond back, unless necessary. Have you ever heard of the CIA bugging a house, hearing a man say he "doesn't like the president", then calling the man in his house to ask why?
Mr. Pearl, I'm sure you must be thinking that these are overexaggerations and what you're doing is inconsequential. But, people have a right for privacy. And breaking that privacy (whether legal or illegal) does not print a good image of you.
Hopefully, you'll take my words as helpful criticism, and not angry ranting that it might look like. I mean, if you still want to read the blogs, then go ahead. You can (not saying you should, but you can). Just, don't answer back. People like their privacy, even if it's fake.

Good one...

Especially that i just posted, 5 minutes ago, an entry on the discrepency (how on earth do you spell this word?? :) between the various bbc news editions online...
(you're welcome to check it :)

There is something definitely appealing about writing a blog. In a sense - and if we're on the metaphor of 'having the right to watch', writing a blog is a bit exhibitionist. And yes, ppl are surprised when they get comments, especially angry ones from ppl who disagree with them..
But in any case, this can only have a positive effect on bloggers who will think twice about what they post because they wouldnt want to be exposed in a reader's comment who would, with a small piece of evidence, destroy the whole argument the original author made...

Keep on reading blogs, folks!

I have a serious problem believing that people honestly think that posting ANYTHING online is private. My favourite are those who spend hours coming up with completely anonymous usernames, but then fill their blogs with intimate details using real names, places, times...

Just type in a search term--even on Google--and you can find thousands of bloggers eagerly posting in pseudo-anonymity. Inhabiting some kind of dream world in which they receive a billion hits a day and only the people they write about are oblivious...

Sure, I have a blog. I also have a hit counter with IP logging, and so I know for a fact that I only typically receive one visit a day, and it's from my best friend.
That's the rub with 'freedom of speech'. Sure, it's great to be able to say what you want... but it also means that you have to take responsibility for those words. Own them. You can't just throw them out into cyberspace with the misplaced notion that they aren't being read.

Wonderful post. I have expounded often on the fact that freedom of speech does not mean we can say anything without repercussions. We don't have the right to bring others down, thereby intruding on their freedoms, to say anything we want to say.

As a writer, I'm always conscious of what I'm putting online. People need to think more about that and find a password-protected blog if they want only family and friends to read it.

I think it's great that the media would be interested in hearing public views about what's in the media. A step in the right direction, I say. Bravo!

A problem with the blogosphere is that there are far too many writers and far too few readers - almost a reverse of most other media thingies. I'd be delighted if someone, even a BBC employee, would read my pearls of wisdom. But, though I'm sometimes rude about Nick Robinson or polite about Andrew Marr and Lord Bragg, alas they don't!

  • 99.
  • At 05:56 PM on 22 Jul 2006,
  • Ros wrote:

blog and private. no, put it in a diary.

  • 100.
  • At 06:05 PM on 22 Jul 2006,
  • Philip wrote:

Truly bizarre that there are people who think their weblogs are for 'them and their friends' alone..

I don't think there is any question that 'blogging' has changed the way that we seek out and digest information for the forseeable future. What I do however object to, is this intermingling of serious journalistic reporting (which in the bbc's case is required to be reasonably unbias) and these so called 'editors blogs' that seem to be sprining up like wildfire on certain news websites such as your own.

Don't get me wrong, their often a good read but I think the danger is that by harbouring them within the very pages that we go and look to for impartial information on the days news there is the danger that these blogs will be interpreted as some kind of fact and not the personal opinion of one person which is all they actually are.

I can remember at least one instance, although I'm sure there have been others where this very website has had news articles displayed on the main subsection of a page (i forget which) that just lazily linked to one of these bbcblogs.

Perhaps a little segregation would help clarify the difference between responsibly unbias reporting and the undiluted personal opinions of some of your more well known reporters.

There will always be some that think, "the BBC have no right to watch me". They are wrong, if they post it to all, all should read and have a right to reply. It's up to them to protect it from those they don't want to see it. The main point with blogs - is it's good that people get the chance to voice their opinion on your shows - to everyone - and not just you in private. That could not happen before. If I were you I would want to read it. I would not want people saying things about me behind my back. I'm glad you guys listen. I might be mailing you more in the future (Jeremy must be headbuting his desk at the thought). It's nice to know you can make a difference. Or at least get listened to.

You say that if someone is writing about the BBC you will probably find it on Technorati. Surely that only happens in the person registers their site to Technorati and regularly pings it with updates? Such people would therefore know that people will be checking fresh posts on their blog. Otherwise, you could only find such info via some Googling.

I've maybe got the idea of Technorati wrong, as I've only just gone there and 'claimed' my blog after being reminded about it here.

Right? Wrong?

You can read my blog anytime you want to. And you can read what I have to say about the BBC, too:

The BBC is financed by a "tax" on the British public. No blogger has such astronomical resources. For them it is a passion. They are democrats of the Information Age and you are one of the Soviet-style bureaucracies that has managed to make it into the 21st century. But you wouldn't have done it without vast subsidies and your subsidized presence distorts the market. Google and YouTube are the models of the future. The BBC will either emulate their approach (not their models) or disappear. The loss of the BBC would be regretted by many, but now that all kinds of networking and publication technologies are out there and available to millions, the loss would not be as devastating as one might think. The BBC has got to 2010, tops, to make it or become irrelevant. So, keep reading those blogs!

  • 105.
  • At 07:58 PM on 22 Jul 2006,
  • Nick wrote:

Of course no one should be surprised if BBC journalists read comments others write about them on the internet. However, when those journalists read those comments, they need consciously ensure they remain aware that those who have the time and money (computers and net connections aren’t free) to spend their time on the internet are a self selecting minority. I do sometimes worry that if journalists spend too long reading the net, they may well end up with a skewed idea of public opinion. In fact, I wouldn’t at all surprised if there are lobby groups intentionally creating and commenting on blogs in the hope of altering the media’s perception of where mainstream public opinion lies.

  • 106.
  • At 08:05 PM on 22 Jul 2006,
  • Kaz wrote:

Most blog set-ups include privacy status, meaning that the blogger chooses whether or not to make their post public. In "communities" like LiveJournal, the blogger can choose to set any post to be filtered to all those other "LJers" on their "friends" list, or specific LJers.

There's also great flexibility in other aspects of privacy and security: a blogger may choose to post pictures of themselves, either as user icons, galleries, or embedded within posts either publicly or privately; they may choose to use a pseudonym; they may choose to present or omit personal details, such as date of birth, location, job, names of loved ones, etc.

And then there are different kinds of blogs: crooksandliars is a political blog intended for mass consumption; Neil Gaiman's fantastically widely-read blog is also syndicated to LJ, and is likewise public, though there is no comment option besides an "ask Neil" form; Bob or Gina down the road may have an online journal that is "locked" to all but a handful of friends. All blogs are not created equal.

If you don't lock your blog, you have to expect that you'll get uninvited visitors. Most of them will be courteous, but, just as if they'd barged into a conversation in a park, a blogger has a right to turf them out if their behaviour's inappropriate. It's a form of conversation that relies on basic courtesy and understanding of a social contract: If you don't like it, walk away or politely disagree. Equally, if you don't want the world to know your business, for pity's sake, lock your blog.

Here at Transdiffusion, where we run a monthly magazine on broadcasting issues, we find the ability for our editors to respond instantly via our "MediaBlog" to something happening in the field is a major benefit. We feel that blogging adds a new dimension to broadcasting - and we certainly hope the BBC is reading us!

--Richard Elen, Editor in chief,

  • 108.
  • At 08:09 PM on 22 Jul 2006,
  • Jim wrote:

There's no such thing as a private blog. It's published online, therefore it's not private. And given most bloggers seem to imagine that the thing the world most needs is more of their wisdom and insight, if they wanted their thoughts to remain private, they'd write them in a notebook, wouldn't they?

  • 109.
  • At 08:24 PM on 22 Jul 2006,
  • Anand Patil wrote:

Is the Government listening too?

Moderators, do you *somehow* influence the general mood of the comments by applying your filters? Of course, there are a few out of line voices put up just as a mark of political correctness--Free speech for all!

  • 110.
  • At 08:39 PM on 22 Jul 2006,
  • Brian B wrote:

I do not find it surprising that BBC reporters would be keen to know what people think of their reports and are writing on their 'blogs', and the nature of the internet will allow them to do this (and respond in the way they report on news/issues). However I do not really expect them to be spending time on this on licence payers' time. The reason being that the internet is 'very' extensive and the BBC is viewed by thousands all around the world, and people do have a right to an opinion when the BBC has so much power (the peoples' own right to reply). Having said that it may sometimes be worthwhile to point out untruths.

  • 111.
  • At 09:23 PM on 22 Jul 2006,
  • Mamita L. Setling wrote:

I only recently posted an entry on xanga where I mentioned the blogging crisis. 'Crisis' because everyone seems to be swaying on ambivalence about it of late; very confused. The entire purpose of "public" blogging is to bring your views out into the world, knowing that it will be read by others, hence the the term "public". And there is always an alternative- the option of setting your blogs to private if you don't wish to have your entries read by anyone other than yourself or those you authorize access for.

Your issue with why people would not want their blogs read hence is something I relate to well. But a recent news story on your BBC news website itself, about how some companies sack employees for writing about the workplace and its ongoings is not something I totally agree with. Blogging is blogging. Doesn't not being able to voice your personal opinions and recording your personal affairs defeat the whole purpose of blogging? And it's a Blog generation after all, nothing we can do about these advancements in technology now, can we.

But all in all, your statement makes sense to me. And I don't think the person need be upset about his/her public blog being read by anyone, even if it's the parents or the company they work for.

I do mention BBC News items on a Maths blog and would have no issues at all about feedback - I happen to find the Web site incredibly useful.

It is funny how people fail to realise their blogs might actually be read!

  • 113.
  • At 09:23 PM on 22 Jul 2006,
  • ian wrote:

Ragnar - there is no such thing as a private blog - if it is on the web it will be read. I know some Blog software allows you to keep blogs private but that won't guarantee to keep search engines out. Also if you post something about another blog post you almost certainly generate a trail via trackback.

Your analogy to conventional mail just isn't appropriate.

  • 114.
  • At 09:28 PM on 22 Jul 2006,
  • Mamita L. Setling wrote:

And by the way, it's good to have a watchdog not only for yourself, but for us too. Through blog postings and discussions, you'll know what's the first thing on people's agenda, what they're talking about and what they're ultimately interested in. This gives you a good idea as to what appeals to the public, what concerns them, what initiates dialogue within various communities. Isn't that a good thing?

  • 115.
  • At 09:32 PM on 22 Jul 2006,
  • steve jameson wrote:

don't know if this has been mentioned.. you don't see many 'end of the world is nigh' dudes in the street these days.. but there seems to be loads of blogs about it

  • 116.
  • At 09:37 PM on 22 Jul 2006,
  • Stuart Galea wrote:


You have every right to read anything, anyone else writes about you.

By the same respect everyone has a right to read and reply to anything you say, write or broadcast.

If i have an opinion on something or someone and i am wrong, i would like to be informed. The best possible way for me to educate myself about any given subject is to ask those involved.

Society is "dressed up to the nines", everyone obssesed with the image they portray.

Many people are calling out to "Keep It Real" whilst only trying to express popular opinion and miss the point.

I hope to start using Blogs to express myself and my opinions, and look forward to some good debates.
I sometimes think too long, and may not always be understood, but i do believe that others who have commented implying people shouldn't give fast, rash or even flippent comments, fail to realise that this is our opportunity to see what people really think. This is our indication of what masses are hearing, and the picture it paints, if they need re-educating, because they got it wrong, then thats the opportunity for someone else to put them right on the subject. To me thats what all this seems to be about.
Private conversations should be held in a private way, not on the net.
The only real way to keep it things 100% private these days is in person, in a private place. My assumption is that if you choose someone is worthy of hearing your private thoughts then maybe you should choose to spend some time with them once in a while.

Choose to blog and only tell others what you believe today. And expect everyone to read it. If you wish no one else to have an opinion on what you think then dont say it and dont write it!

(stopping now before i really ramble)


I think I shall give up trying, and failing, to be interesting or amusing. All I have to do is write about Newsnight, and my readership of influential people will increase exponentially. It's the holy grail!

  • 118.
  • At 10:34 PM on 22 Jul 2006,
  • Chris wrote:

Is this really about privacy? May it not actually be about power?

Modern information technology places enormous power in the hands of those (like the BBC) who have the ability and money to use it, whether for good or ill. I regret to say that most seem to use it for their own ends and to express their own prejudices.

The www and such things as 'blogs' bucks this trend as it allows people to express their views without editorial censorship from large organisations which may not agree with those views.

I find myself generally on the side of blogs, although today is the first time I have even looked at any of them. Provided they remain reasonably argued and avoid the merely crude and violent insults seen in some of the ones I have read today, they are a valuable means of expressing opinion without having to run the gauntlet of editorial censorship in the mainstream media. On second thoughts, even the viler blogs may serve a useful purpose if they keep the writers sitting relatively harmlessly in front of their computer screens rather than on the streets!

  • 119.
  • At 10:37 PM on 22 Jul 2006,
  • Carl wrote:

Do bloggers ever write about anything other than blogging?


  • 120.
  • At 10:43 PM on 22 Jul 2006,
  • madclarinet wrote:

Good post. With the part on 'blogs' its interesting that people post on them and then 'think' its private. I have a blog but if I have something that I only want my friends to see then I mark the post as 'friends only' and the site I use (a well known blog site) doesn't display it unless one of my 'friends' see it.

Its amazing how many people think that if they only give their friends the link then only they will see it.

'The BBC is watching us' - good, its always nice to see that the corporation wants to know what people think of it, I wish a lot more places did stuff like that.

Why do people consider their blogs anonymous:

1. How on earth could you possibly read ALL of the blogs and comments regarding yourselves?

2. Why would well respected, wealthy and 'powerful' journalists such as yourselves care about Joes Blog?

I find it hard to believe that Jeremy Paxman - star of Hard Hitting BBC News - would get "despondent" over a few emails from the 'rif-raf' and peasants.

I blog. My blog is open to anyone to read worldwide. I don't kid myself that more than a handful of people do, but the possibility is there. It's good to know that Daniel Pearl and the Newsnight team are interested in what we say about them.

I've posted my thoughts on Daniel's post on my blog:


  • 123.
  • At 12:58 AM on 23 Jul 2006,
  • John wrote:

Daniel, if I may,

This is interesting. But you realise you are seriously running the risk of a) naively pulling aside the editorial curtain, and b) escalating a war in demands for 'transparency', and generally stepping up the critique of the whole editorial process.

On a) - If you tell us too much about how you work, we will ask, erm, who the hell do you think you are? What qualifies you to make such influential decisions as what leads the programme? what line of questioning should be taken? what general editorial line should be taken on key issues (e.g. environment)? how competent are you, and what are your qualificiations?

On b) - As a) demonstrates, you can have your work delegitimised, and therefore, you will be attacked - more efficiently given this medium for doing it - for failures or perceived failures of editorial quality.

Myself, I feel that you have it coming. I don't think there's anything much special about you editors: you found your way into this work, great, but why you should set the day's news agenda, as opposed to, say, me or anyone else, is not clear.

Ogling blogs around the net, and throwing your weight around, will come back to haunt you. People will watch like a hawk, and will hammer your mistakes.

Are you ready gladiatorial combat? You will in the end need to justify every editorial decision, and indeed the point of your very role.


Interesting post, but hard to believe what the BBC reads on blogs has any effect on decision-making. My main impression of the BBC vs blogs is of its deep resistance to addressing errors. The linguistics blog Language Log has repeatedly commented on scientific and linguistic sloppiness in BBC coverage, such as its uncritcial coverage of claims of a telepathic parrot. I complained way back about the ludicrous story of the three-headed frog (see debunking here). Response? Reaction? Correction? Zilch.

I write a blog for the News & Star newspaper in Carlisle, England, and the source of most of my more newsy comments is invariably the BBC News site.

There's such a fascinating range of stories with the BBC and I appreciate that they make sure there's enough humour, if you look for it, to go some way to offset the darker headlines we're often facing.

The News & Star recently won an award from the UK Press Gazette's Regional Press Awards, on its use of 'citizen journalists', so I guess I can take a bow to that, and because I took inspiration from the BBC, so can they!

Les Floyd

firstly i think it's hysterical that anyone either expects or wants their blog to be private. since it is possible to both password protect either your entire blog or individual posts enabling only friends to read them. there is no excuse for this kind of reaction.

it brings to mind some of the recent cases where foolish bloggers have attacked the companies they currently work for online and been surprised when they find out and take issue with it. if you want to make a series public complaint about your job, fine - in which case you should perhaps also be doing it through the proper official channels too. if not PASSWORD PROTECT!!!

the pub analogy is much more comporable to forums, chat rooms and live chat which operate far more like a big conversation between many people. whilst i still think you might want to be careful about who you offend/defame on such sites they are more likely to be viewed as loose and spontaneous. unless you usually sit in the pub with a bunch of mates and monolouge at them for 10 minutes about a subject before they are alowed to comment (in words moderated by you) then it is not really a fair comparisson to a blog.

i blog under a psuedoname and keep my private life largely anonymous but more because i think that detailed information about the poster can make it too easy for people to pigeonhole/dismiss you according to age/gender etc.. that said, many of these details do become apparant to regular readers if they are reading every post and comment so they are not secret per se.

for those who choose to write about their daily lives (some of which, such as boobs, injuries and dr, pepper are really worth a read) they have to either be very anonymous, very funny or have very understanding friends. or PASSWORD PROTECT!!!

i think it is great that the bbc is in touch with, not only the current 'trends' but also with what groundswell opinion is. my blog is quite light and rather fledgling but i would be flattered and ecstatic to be read, quoted or responded to by the bbc. why post your opinion in a public arena unless you want it to reach as many people as possible?

i also, unlike previous commentors, have no issue with this blog 'sweeping' being done in company time. it is credible and important research and doesn't fall under quite the same category as surfing youtube for star wars spoofs whilst at work. it is also not vain - it would be far more vain and arrogant to not care how the general public were reacting to you.

i do not for one minute find the beeb's (or any other company's) intrest in blogs 'spooky' - only natural, and reassuringly up to date.

Sure, you have every right to watch, as we all do, but don't be too sure of Technorati's prowess, I've been posting a blog for more than a year, but no listing there....

This is good to know.

While I tend to blog primarily on U.S.-related issues, I often use material from the BBC and other international sources (I mean, how else can you get news that don't have the Bush Junta bias here?).

I'm glad to know that someone may occasionally glance at those of my diatribes that include BBC-sourced materials.

Who knows? Maybe you will see just how divergent opinions are in the United States, and that not all of us are lobotomized drooling morons with beer bellies and gun racks who think that the Fox 24-Hour Comedy Network is fair and balanced.


It is good to know some people still take the news and its viewers seriously. If they could figure this part out in the USA, maybe their ratings would not be dropping so quickly. I love the web and being able to get world views on everything. It is nice to have differing views from different sides. Keep up the good work!

I don't think that the BBC reading weblogs is "spooky" - I think it's cool. And I'm pretty sure the quoted blogger meant it in a similar way as well.

  • 132.
  • At 10:07 AM on 23 Jul 2006,
  • Angus wrote:

I agree with your sentiments about Blogs being public venues, as The Times recently reminded me a few weeks ago when they quoted a piece of one of my blog entries in both there print and on-line editions.
The first I knew about it was when I received comments on my blog from people I didn't know and then a friend tipped me off about my '5 minutes of fame'.
The quote they used was taken slightly out of context and part of my would have liked to have been given a head's up that they were using it but I don't have any complaints about them using it. The post was a public post and was on the internet. The internet is hardly the most private of mediums and the blog which I use (Live Journal) does have privacy functions and filters which people can use if they don't want to make public posts.
My view is that anything you post on the net could get seen by others so don't post anything too personal and I also try not to rant too much (although there are certain topics that seem to wind me up enough to get me ranting at times :p).
Anyway, thanks for the article. Angus

  • 133.
  • At 11:36 AM on 23 Jul 2006,
  • vernon de costa wrote:

good day to all at bbc!keep up the good work as long as we entertain people,keep the people informed and ease the burden of fellow human beings during difficult times guess
we have achieved something so let us bring in peace to the world a commodity we do not find in our supermarkets these days!
best regards vernon

  • 134.
  • At 11:37 AM on 23 Jul 2006,
  • Ragnar wrote:

O.K. So thats Blogs better explained.

As most of the "blog" sites I have seen require registration and pass word. It is not something that automatically crosses ones mind.

Does this "automated notification" apply to all web sites? Or just "Blogs"?

  • 135.
  • At 03:36 PM on 23 Jul 2006,
  • John wrote:

Daniel (if I may)

This is interesting. But you realise you are seriously running the risk of a) naively pulling aside the editorial curtain, and b) escalating a war in demands for 'transparency', and generally stepping up the critique of the whole editorial process.

On a) - If you tell us too much about how you work, i.e. reveal the autocracy and inevitable amateurism of it, we will ask, erm, who the hell do you think you are? What qualifies you to make such influential decisions as to what leads the programme? or, what line of questioning should be taken? or, what general editorial line should be taken on key issues (e.g. environment)? How competent are you, and what are your qualifications?

On b) - As a) demonstrates, you can have your work delegitimised, and therefore, you will be attacked - more efficiently given this new medium for doing it - for failures or perceived failures of editorial quality.

Myself, I feel that you have it coming. I don't think there's anything much special about you editors: you found your way into this work, great, but why you should set the day's news agenda, as opposed to, say, me or anyone else, is not clear.

Ogling blogs around the net, and throwing your weight around (hey you intern how dare you comment on your work experience at Newsnight), will come back to haunt you. People will watch like a hawk, and will hammer your mistakes. You Newsnight people think you are the bee's knees, you really do: but you're more or less the same as the rest of the institutionalised news-making machinery, just more arrogant, more cliquely (can it be an accident that Peter, Gavin, Justin, Jezza, and the departed Jeremy appear to have 90% attitudinal-genetic material in common, and even look rather similar?).

Are you ready for gladiatorial combat? The more exposed you and the editorial process are, the more you will in the end need to justify every editorial decision, and indeed the point of your very role. I think you think you're being clever, look no hands I can read blogs too not just write them, but in fact I think you are turning greater attention onto the weak legitimacy of your role.

I do think you do a good job, and work hard, but I think you are arrogant and complacent at how innovative and penetrating you really are in the world of news, and don't seem understand what is being unleashed upon you by the new media age of total transparency. Let the games commence!

I made the same mistake as your horrified blogger. I started a blog, mainly to keep in touch with friends and family in the UK. I live in a small tourist resort in Italy and my blog was soon discovered by the local online newspaper. They (with permission) linked it to their site, and now many locals read my views on life in a small town. I can write about the strange local customs and get feedback from locals who prefer to remain anonymous. I can vent my anger or unsatisfaction by writing open letters to the town council, and I can make the locals angry by taking too lightly their local traditions, racconting them as fairy tales.
I also get feedback from tourists who have been on holiday here and like to know what is happening.
I enjoy writing my blog now, much more than when I considered it 'private'.

Daniel, where on earth do you get the idea that bloggers don’t want or expect people to read their blogs? Most bloggers I know would love the extra traffic. As for me, I’ve written several items on how BBC science reporting is quackery. Would I want BBC science writers to read my blog and take note of what I say? If only they would.

  • 138.
  • At 12:47 AM on 24 Jul 2006,
  • Bernard Moss wrote:

Dear Daniel

I have come straight from your front page to make my comments a few days too late probably!
I live in the real world with no "Instant access" to communication but also instant criticism!
Maybe i'll stay in this world rather than benig slumped over a piece of electronics!
My main question is "Do you think THE REAL BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING US NOW? "


  • 139.
  • At 03:18 AM on 24 Jul 2006,
  • Mike Gillis wrote:

This makes some really good points. I got here from there, by the way, but perhaps you already know that.

I think most TV-watchers tend to forget that the people on the other end of the camera are real human beings who read things and have opinions -- and computers, too, gasp.

This kind of back-and-forth with the audience is something that I really enjoy seeing and participating in, and I'm sure most of your viewers do too, despite the occasional person getting freaked out by You Watching Them.

Hopefully Jeremy wasn't too distraught. I'm in Canada, so I don't see him on a screen very often, but everything I've seen indicates he's good at what he does. (And, on the one hand, I feel ridiculous for implying that Jeremy Paxman needs to hear from some anonymous Canadian that he shouldn't get too down on himself, but I suppose if I'm making the argument that you TV people are real human beings, it's alright, hm?)

Keep up the good work, maybe CBC will pick up on it.

  • 140.
  • At 09:06 AM on 24 Jul 2006,
  • Stacy Smth wrote:

It's the old old adage that whatever you write on yuor blog may as well be stapled to your CV.

I generally work on the assumption that anyone I'm talking to already knows everything I've written.

Makes it easier to stay honest too.

Hi Daniel,

Great post. I think you're quite right that brands have the right to reply, provided they respect the rules of the venue. However, these are sometimes less clear than they should be - often understood tacitly rather than explicitly by regular readers or members. I also think the tonality of discourse must also be spot on, in order to ensure the publisher still feels in control. In our experience, the ability of brands to successfully engage publishers online is subject, in part, to the brand understanding the tribe they are talking to. I say tribe because that's what social networks are.

Having said all that, there's no pleasing everyone. This is not a criticism of your approach in any way but a more general perspective on the space.

Mike Davison

"It wasn't the confidentiality issue that bugged me, but that anyone would think that we as programme makers don't have as much right as everyone else to read what you're all writing, especially if you are writing about us. So, what do you think? Stick it on your blog and I'll respond."
Of course, you have the same right to read and response. That's what blogging is in the first place- interactive communication.

  • 143.
  • At 04:03 PM on 24 Jul 2006,
  • Eric Dickens wrote:

Funny, that although I actually have a blog on the Newsnight website itself, I didn't know about this discussion until last night. A few thoughts about blogging and Newsnight:

As Jim says in 109, it's a public business. It's no good preaching unless you're prepared to get flak back. I feel that blogging does open a route whereby those who are frustrated journalists can let off steam. The moderator will censor out rabid nuttiness from these webpages, but, as I have seen too often on blogs and comment columns here on the web, the blogger does not have the responsibility of the serious journalist.

There is, therefore, one big difference. Journalists must follow a strict code involving even-handedness. Bloggers can spout bile. We bloggers can yell and crack jokes till the cows come home, but I expect of Newsnight reportage itself a carefully balanced view of issues which affect many people: health, energy, education, crime, etc., and recently, war.

With regard to Newsnight itself, I have for a good while suspected that there is an unseen battle going on internally between what I would term Old Newsnight, which has three main items and the Review on Friday, and a more restless (from that adjective alone you can see which side I'm on) New Newsnight approach involving more trivia and silly interviews.

I am staunchly conservative in this respect. I want Newsnight to remain a programme like Panorama (which did an excellent report on care for the elderly last night) and not become a poor man's babble show. In this respect, I feel that the Review is below par while, luckily, the news part for most of the week has returned more to the old format with the modernisers beating the retreat.

One final important thing: your presenters must remain squeaky clean impartial on screen. Whether they believe in their private lives that the Trots should infiltrate the British government or that they should bring back hanging, while on the job, so to speak, they should bend over backwards to avoid giving us viewers the idea that they are biased. This means that viewers will get several points of view, not only the one they love.

I hope that Newsnight can resist the eternal "urge to modernise" and can continue to provide us with the background to the news of the day.

let's face it. We only write in to forums like this cos we like to see our own writing in print and gives our egos a flush of gorgeousness.

And also to link to our own blogs to drive up our traffic.

I DARE you to publish this.

  • 145.
  • At 09:05 PM on 24 Jul 2006,
  • Mike New wrote:

The Newsnight staff have every right to read what the public are writing about them, whether that be in blogs or wherever-- so why not just say that ?

Why say "We are watching you..."
This is sinster, threatening and paranoid.
We pay your wages to make balanced programmes not threaten.

As for Newsnight's content, it is impossible for any BBC staff member,who has any Jewish or Arabic connections, to comment objectively and fairly on the Jew-Arab conflict.
Surely ?

  • 146.
  • At 09:43 PM on 24 Jul 2006,
  • miika wrote:

It's worth noting that the Washington Post not only reads blogs about their articles, but it has a Technorati Cosmos link in the sidebar to any blogs that have a trackback to specific articles.

The Beeb should discover this sort of technology somewhere around 2035 :P

Can I invoice the BBC a licence fee for reading my blog?

  • 148.
  • At 10:44 AM on 25 Jul 2006,
  • Eric Dickens wrote:

Miika has a point. Despite all the talk of vibrant new technologies, the way the blogs, feedback, checkback and so on are set up, you get the impression that the BBC cyberboffins are a step or two behind the rest of the world.

  • 149.
  • At 01:52 PM on 25 Jul 2006,
  • miika wrote:

The fact that so many people are commenting on this entry is something I think the Beeb (and others) can take note of.

It's proof that people are reading what's being said by the Beeb, but it's also evidence of the increasing tendancy of people to speak up publically. As such, the comments are also feedback that the Beeb can use to gauge its services. If nothing else, they know people are reading!

People who complain the Beeb is reading what's said by its "customer base" online are, I think, missing the point. You have the chance, long denied by the media, to give instant critical feedback on how you think they're doing.

Admittedly, the people reading such things will likely tabulate complaints and compliments, but occasionally they'll see something that they can identify as "helpful", and, in theory, make changes if they feel there's enough demand.

So from that aspect, people should, I think, be happy that the Beeb is reading blogs, because it's another way for people to get feedback into the system, whether good or bad. Enough noise gets made, then someone might pay attention.

The Beeb is however demonstrably behind the basic level of technology being employed on the web though. I have the feeling that the IT team was told "Create x from scratch". This is indicative of the "mommy knows best" attitude within the BBC.

Other mainstream media has both embraced technology, with its benefits (and detriments) and is much easier to use, and much more effective. The Washington Post, as I mentioned above, manages quite well using a modified version of Wordpress, an open source off-the-shelf blogging system, for its online presence.

The Beeb -must- break out of its current approach to the technology it's using online, to create an environment that is familiar to seasoned net users, but likewise is uncomplicated for the less technically minded, and if the Beeb is really serious about "audience participation" then it needs to begin to meet the same technological standards of use and interactivity other more advanced media outlets employ.

At the current level of site development, the Beeb is hovering around the standards of technology that were cutting edge in the late 90s -at best-. They lag far behind the rest of the world, and the more they delve into their unnecessary custom technologies, the less likely they are to be able to bring the site up to the current abilities technology can offer.

Note that this is not intended as a slur against the IT people at the Beeb. In my opinion, the way the site is lagging behind is the result of managerial misunderstanding and a lack of comprehension of technology by management when writing the specs for IT to design to.

Someone needs to demonstrate that the current path is a waste of resources reinventing the wheel, with all the resulting bureocracy that is evidently still a hallmark of the BBC affecting and degrading the end result.

So kudos to the Beeb for going out into the 'Net to find out what people are saying, and hopefully using that to improve their service. Kudos to them for taking the brave step of actually beginning to allow user interaction with the BBC. But boo hiss for remaining in the stone age with the technology you're using.

  • 150.
  • At 10:48 PM on 25 Jul 2006,
  • kim - Hawaii wrote:

Dear Daniel and newsnight editors,

Firstly I internet blog, website, not a "private" forum. Recently I heard an argument, albeit another teenager, who was upset that her mom read the blog she and her friends created...that it was private. Frightening what our young people think, and no wonder so many are led by falsehoods relayed across the internet.Do they really think they are alone on there?
2ndly, I rarely comment on anything and I am unable to WATCH Newsnight, but I do enjoy keeping up with what is going on in the world and the newletter from newsnight gives one a headsup on matters that "matter". Keep up the good work! And don't give in as so many news programs have to filling their time with "soft" news that hides what is really happening. P.S. I like the editors page too!

  • 151.
  • At 06:07 AM on 29 Jul 2006,
  • miika wrote:

Sure ian, and they can invoice you back for the manu hours spent analyzing it, dissecting it ... then there's all the techs that need to examine it for technical compatibility, the fee for sending the TV van round to your house (the electric bill will come under a separate cover) ... you'll be responsible for their parking tickets, will have to sign a disclaimer waiting any and all rights to your face being used in perpetutity royalty free.

And that's just for the audition!

  • 152.
  • At 11:56 PM on 29 Jul 2006,
  • Jacob wrote:

Does Newsnight know what percentage of its viewers own a computer with an Internet connection, and what percentage of these have blogs? Because if there's no knowledge of either of these facts, then what is all this fuss about? How representative of Newsnight's viewers' comments is anything published on the Internet? Wouldn't it be as useful to go and stand in a high street with a clip board and just ask people? The 'Information Super Highway' extends to a very small group of people, notwithstanding that it already seems over crowded with 'blogs'.

For the record; I live in the UK and I don't have either a blog or a television. I also don't watch Newsnight, so please don't take my opinions into account in your internal decision making process, designed to capture the heartbeat of the popular zeitgeist, or however you may word your objectives.

  • 153.
  • At 08:04 AM on 01 Aug 2006,
  • Dudette wrote:

My sister's watching me.

I'm watching BBC.

And BBC is watching the world!

How totally awesome man! It's like, I'm watching the world through bbc!

  • 154.
  • At 02:29 PM on 02 Aug 2006,
  • Enrico wrote:

Jamie, noted.
Enrico Louw, Jhb (RSA)

  • 155.
  • At 08:43 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • Smith Dorrien wrote:

Whats an URL ?
Is`nt a "podcast" just TV without the pictures?
Journalists who work in radio have to work much harder ( and better) to describe the situation they are reporting on. Without pictures they rely on more facts than TV journalists.
Facts count more than visual impressions - how come I only learnt about the official Israeli figures for rocket attacks between 2000 & 2006 across the border with Lebanon from Robin Lustiq and not on Newsnight ? Bring back Charles Wheeler and 24 Hours.
P.S. I Like Martha`s dress sense

  • 156.
  • At 03:57 PM on 08 Aug 2006,
  • miika wrote:

URL is Uniform Resource Locator - in other words, the address you type into your browser or feed reader.

Podcast is a composite word, from 'iPod" and "broadcast" (although it's become synonymous with the entire concept, similar to how "hoover" has become synonymous with vacuuming) - a podcast is a subscribable multimedia feed, usually audio but also capable of feeding video.


A great post. I did stick your message on my blog
as requested..


  • 158.
  • At 09:22 PM on 21 Aug 2006,
  • Ron wrote:

Why aren't the archive interviews (A-Z) in MP3/MPEG-4 format?

Why doesn't Panorama do this too? I just don't get it great News and documentary content and not in mobile formats.

It would be great to listen to on the way to the office out here in Southern California. As a UK ExPat I enjoy the quality content of the BBC although I have to say BBC America is a bit on the dull side with predictable trash most of the time. I use to work in Broadcasting many moons ago what happened?

Thank you,

Great story, it is a bizarre concept to believe that writing a blog, (and pinging technorati) you are not expecting any visitors! If someone from newsnight left a comment for me I would be pretty excited not annoyed!

I believe the word in fashion is "long tail" unfortunately as setting up a blog is so easy and free, I guess many people simply haven't got a clue what in the world they are actually doing. There is often a perception among people that don't know much about it that blogging is just like keeping an online diary or journal.

It's always amusing to see how some people think they are anonymous on the Internet, especially bloggers. The only reason a lot of bloggers experience some privacy is because their blogs are almost as dull as their life.

  • 161.
  • At 06:49 PM on 05 Aug 2007,
  • Mike wrote:

I think the internet needs some serious improvement when it comes to communication because people like you come along and say that they have a RIGHT to spy on people like me. Ok, so I should be allowed to read all your email then? Give me a break.

  • 162.
  • At 09:28 PM on 06 Aug 2007,
  • J WESTERMAN wrote:

Re Jamie (10)


How now?

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