The BBC Trust has announced that it will allow licence fee payers to have their say on its new editorial guidelines – proclaiming on the consultation website:
Have you got views on the BBC Editorial Guidelines? If the answer is yes, then the BBC Trust wants to hear from you.
The guidelines are reviewed every five years, but have not previously been subject to public consultation. Closing date for feedback is 24 December 2009. The online survey apparently contains ten questions and comment boxes – I’ll be completing mine over the weekend so will post back about what they are.
Interestingly the draft document contains a tightening of the editorial control over online news content. As noted by the Editors Weblog:
The importance of respecting the guidelines in online news as much as in broadcast is stressed in the impartiality section, adding to the existing guidelines. It requires that “news in whatever form must be presented with due impartiality” and “our audiences should not be able to tell from BBC programmes or other BBC output the personal prejudices of our journalists and presenters on such matters.” It continues by emphasising “this applies as much to online content as it does to news bulletins: nothing should be written by journalists and presenters that would not be said on air.”
Which may have an impact on journalists’ blogging, as James Robinson wrote in the Guardian:
Some industry observers are already referring to that as the “Jeremy Bowen clause”. The BBC’s highly-regarded Middle East editor, was censured by the Trust in April for loose phrasing in a potted history of post-war Israel, which appeared on the BBC News website.
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