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BBC Trust says news website must review fact checking procedure

April 24th, 2008Posted by in Broadcasting, Journalism

The sourcing and fact checking process for stories on the BBC News website must be addressed by management, the BBC trust Editorial Standards Committee has recommended.

The committee made the suggestions as part of its response to a complaint about an article on the site, which pointed to inaccuracies in the report on Congressman Joseph P Kennedy II’s marriage to Sheila Rauch.

During the complaints procedure, the online news team conceded to oversimplifying the story and admitted that this could mislead the reader.

More worringly the online team offered this reason for not having avoided the errors in the article in the first place:

“…we are writing for a general audience. While an online story can in theory be of any length, we do have constraints on our time and resources to devote to each story. Put simply, our staffing simply doesn’t allow us to go into the detail you [the complainant] outline in your email correspondence.”

The complaint about the article, which was published in June last year, was partially upheld by the committee, as the online team did amend the piece.

However, the Trust said the web team ‘should have acted more quickly in its responses to the complainant to ensure the story was corrected sooner than it was.’

The committee also resolved to write to management at the corporation to request a review of sourcing and fact checking of articles before publication on the website.

For full details of the recommendations read the committee’s findings.

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