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Report mistake

Alison Ford | 09:50 UK time, Tuesday, 20 May 2008

A news item we broadcast on 23 April on television and online reported that a Ukrainian manufacturer was producing dolls of Adolf Hitler. The item also included an interviewee who said that the policies of Ukrainian leaders were contributing to a revival of neo-Nazism in Ukraine.

Breakfast logoThe pictures came to the BBC from a Russian television station via a trusted agency route. When we take material from other broadcasters we scrutinise it under our normal editorial guidelines, but on this occasion it was not subjected to the required rigorous examination. There was a factual error in the report, in that the figurines are actually made in Taiwan. In addition, the interviewee should have been challenged.

After receiving complaints, we investigated the item and immediately decided not to run it again on television and to remove it from the website. We apologised to those people who had told us they were offended by the piece, and of course we're happy to repeat that apology publicly.


  • Comment number 1.

    I sometimes question why the BBC tends to only report what their own reporters are seeing/saying. There is so much happening in the world that can be found from other sources.

    I guess this provides a bit of an answer. If the BBC just takes an item from an agency - how do they verify it's true?

  • Comment number 2.

    Another honest mistake, these things happen,it's just the way you deal with them that makes a difference, the way the bbc apologises for mistakes it makes and removes incorrect information as soon as possible is to be commended, thanks beeb

  • Comment number 3.

    Perhaps these issues would happen less if BBC Breakfast were a weighty, credible news outlet instead of an early morning celebfest used to promote other BBC shows, upcoming films, books etc?

  • Comment number 4.

    I think that you need to give more prominence to apologies on the web-site.
    You cannot put apologies in hidden away places and expect to be taken seriously.
    Accept that errors will happen and be up front about it.

    I think that there is a particular problem for the China team where there is a campaign by pro-regime PRC people to discredit the western media by picking on errors. These errors then get recycled for ever on Youtube and the Chinese media. You need to help James Reynold re-establish his credibility. You have a very large audience in China and should take it more seriously.

  • Comment number 5.

    Things happend! And the BBC accepted the responsibility and corrected from the errors of what happend....

    Editorial standards are always needed to be revised and updated, on a continous basis...

  • Comment number 6.

    Although tucked away on the website, the correction and apology is there and remains there which is laudable.

    For me though, the biggest problem by far is not necessarily the original report, though that was egregious enough.

    The larger problem is that in the age of blogs, a single mistake by the BBC can cause incalculable onwards damage as people link to, or copy and paste from, original reports and re-post further onto the web.

    Call this "toxic fallout" if you will.

    While the BBC has standards and is liable to the Press Complaints Commission, blogs aren not and can put up whatever drivel they like and cite the BBC as a source, even long after the BBC has withdrawn the video or report.

    So far, the only way to re-dress this is to post correcting information in Comments, though you can't post a comment on every blog. And in some cases, the blogger might refuse to correct, like this one who wrote back to me when I complained that your report had been withdrawn:

    "Come to think of it, even if they do retract their story, I don't think I would remove mine. You see I like it too much. "

    So, sadly, the falsehoods will live on regardless...

  • Comment number 7.

    I don't know how many mistakes bbc breakfast news makes, but i wouldn't imagine it is many or of any real importance as they always seem to be banging on about some other bbc programme.

    As for the BBC fixing mistakes and errors, please wake the hell up folks, the BBC is just the news we are meant to know. By definition they make mistakes and errors every day.

    They should really start every day with an apology every day.

    Sorry we can't tell you all the news but here is what we can tell you.

    expecting the BBC to tell the truth is like expecting the govt to tell the truth. It aint going to happen.

    and i am sure the people of Ukraine are entirely understanding of your propaganda mistake. I wouldn't have thought it would be to hard to find modern nazis.

    Prescott Bush anyone?

  • Comment number 8.

    BBC's guidelines (e.g. that the interviewee should have been challenged) have not been observed in case of other sensational reports, even in the one by BBC's own reporter, Rachel Wright:

    Funny enough, the picture (still) from the video is not a picture of Auroville at all: it is the footage from Pondicherry!

    We understand that the BBC has less and less resources to scrutinise the report details.

  • Comment number 9.

    "After receiving complaints, we investigated the item and immediately decided not to run it again on television and to remove it from the website. We apologised to those people who had told us they were offended by the piece, and of course we're happy to repeat that apology publicly."

    Have you apologized to the government of the Ukraine? It seems to me that they were the ones at the wrong end of this black propaganda.

  • Comment number 10.

    Interesting that your 10:30 news tonight - Monday - reported the Wall Street closing Dow Jones level, my internet says it is closed today -Memorial Day.

  • Comment number 11.

    When do BBC News Editors go on Holiday?
    My BBC Ticker has been carrying the same news for three weeks. Should we refer to them as BBC Olds


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