Tag Archives: BBC

BBC Apologizes

ABC57.com image

By Casey Bukro

Ethics AdviceLine for Journalists

Twenty-five years later, the British Broadcasting Corporation apologizes for one of its reporters, Martin Bashir, using fake bank statements to get a sensational interview with Princess Diana.

“It was a stupid thing to do and was an action I deeply regret,” said Bashir, who stepped down from BBC last week. He admitted the bogus bank statements used to gain the interview when he was a young reporter eager to make a name for himself were “mocked up.” BBC News called the interview “deceitful.”

“The BBC should have made greater effort to get to the bottom of what happened at the time and been more transparent about what it knew,” said Tim Davie, BBC’s current director-general. “While the BBC cannot turn back the block after a quarter of a century, we can make a full and unconditional apology.”

BBC has an ethics guide which says in part, “At the heart of ethics is a concern about something and someone other than ourselves and our own desires and self-interest.”

The Society of Professional Journalists code of ethics urges journalists to “abide by the same high standards to which they hold others.”


The Ethics AdviceLine for Journalists was founded in 2001 by the Chicago Headline Club (Chicago professional chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists) and Loyola University Chicago Center for Ethics and Social Justice. It partnered with the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 2013. It is a free service.

Professional journalists are invited to contact the Ethics AdviceLine for Journalists for guidance on ethics. Call 866-DILEMMA or ethicsadvicelineforjournalists.org.

Ethics Of Robot Reporting

In a human-centric field like journalism, how are newsrooms putting artificial intelligence ethics into practice? asks Christine Schmidt. BBC and Al Jazeera tell how they plan to do it.

“We have to remember, as media, we are gatekeepers to people’s understanding of the modern world,” says a source.

Cited Out of Context: Reporting Data With Integrity

 Samia Malik (left) compares notes with technologists at the Chicago School of Data conference.

Samia Malik (left) compares notes with technologists at the Chicago School of Data conference.

A Medicare database, second-hand stats and social-science findings shed light on how to handle data with care.

By Stephen Rynkiewicz

Journalists look for reassurance in data, as a way to validate what their sources tell them. Scientists aren’t so sure – they joke about “data” being the plural of “anecdote.” Two sources are better than one, except when they’re both wrong.

“You can really jump to the wrong conclusions if you don’t have an understanding of the background of the data,” says Matthew Roberts, informatics manager for Chicago’s health department.

Researchers make a familiar complaint about their data: Getting quoted out of context. The issue’s playing out in a Medicare database of payments doctors took from medical suppliers. Both groups found errors in the data, and payments on research in progress were withheld.

Before the site launched, Roberts told the Chicago School of Data conference that news media inspecting the raw data were among the first to jump to conclusions.

“They just made some wrong guesses about what the data meant,” he said. The final Medicare database gives companies a chance to comment — to give details that could suggest a productive partnership rather than a conflict of interest.

Continue reading Cited Out of Context: Reporting Data With Integrity

The Limits of Gruesome

By Casey Bukro

“You can’t handle the truth!” shouts Jack Nicholson in one of his memorable movie roles.

That could be said of public reaction to some of the harsh and violent realities of life that increasingly are shown these days in video reports, such as the gruesome video aired in the attack on an off-duty British soldier who was hacked and stabbed to death in London’s Woolwich neighborhood May 22.

An amateur’s video showed one of the alleged assailants, his bloody hands holding a knife and a clever, explaining why the soldier, Lee Rigby, was killed.

The graphic scenes, filmed by a member of the public with a mobile phone, prompted more than 700 complaints to the United Kingdom’s media regulator, known as Ofcom. The BBC, ITV, Britain’s Channel 4, Sky News and other broadcasters are being investigated by the media regulator for airing footage of the Woolwich attack.

Ofcom regulates the airwaves in the interests of citizens and consumers in Britain.

The incident is especially interesting for two reasons. One raises the question of how far is too far in pursuit of the news? Though the public is fairly jaded by gruesome images of war and violence these days, the Woolwich incident shows that at least some people think there is a limit to how much they are willing to see.

And the images were taken by a bystander with a cellphone, known these days as crowd sourcing. This is likely to be a growing source of information and conflict. The question is, should media outlets use it just because they have it?

A group of bloggers called International Square uses the Woolwich attack to ask: “How irresponsible are media when reporting on terrorism?”

ITV news said its decision to show the gruesome video was “editorially justified” in the public interest to explain the horrific event. Broadcasters said they warned the public of the graphic nature of the footage before showing it.

The Society of Professional Journalists code of ethics suggests: “Show good taste. Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity.”