Written by News

Neil Report

The BBC have today published the Neil Report, which is effectively the BBC’s response to the findings of the Hutton inquiry. I’m not a journalist, and I don’t particularly work with journalists, but good and accurate journalism is a fundamental principle of a democracy. And the BBC is probably the world’s greatest news gathering organisation, so a report examining the organistation’s journalistic values is of vital importance.
The report speaks of five journalistic values: Truth and Accuracy; Serving the Public Interest; Impartiality and Diversity of Opinion; Independence; and Accountability. [NB. Fox News might want to consider points 1, 3 and 4 in particular] I won’t go into all the details of the report, since it’s worth a read in its own right, and I can’t really do justice in a few words to a 27 page report that’s taken several weeks/months to put together. So instead, here are a few things that I find particularly worth noting.
Single sources and anonymity: Sources should be named for the most part, and if they’re not, reasons why not should be given. Stories based on a single source should be “in the public interest.”
Fairness: The BBC should be fair to all – both contributors and the audience.
Two Ways: Should not ordinarily be used to break serious or defamatory stories. [This section seems to be the main focus of righting any wrongs Andew Gilligan may have committed] Outside Commitments: Restrictions are placed on what BBC journalists or presenters may do outside of the BBC, whether freelance or not. These don’t strike me as harsh as were maybe first reported.
The report goes on to highlight a whole section of what should be learnt from the “Gilligan affair”, before branching off into training.
Overall a fair and reasonable document I’d have thought.