BBC People Editing Wikipedia – Independent On Sunday Story

December 17, 2007

I was interested to read this story in yesterday’s Independent on Sunday.

People who read my internal BBC blog, Biased BBC or Wikipedia will know that this story originally surfaced back in August this year. It provoked this blog post from the Telegraph. Pete Clifton (Head of BBC News Interactive) wrote this about the incident on the BBC Editors Blog. I also mentioned what happened in this post about Biased BBC on this blog (sorry it’s a bit long, the bit you need to read is about half way in).

And people who have read any of the above will know that the BBC person who edited the Wikipedia entry “Criticism of the BBC” was me.

I defended my actions in this comment thread on Wikipedia and on Biased BBC.

Let’s take a look at a quote from Brian Brady’s article:

“Late last December, a BBC-registered machine changed a section title from “Political Correctness” to “Impartiality Seminar” on a page called “Criticism of the BBC”. There was heavy reworking of an account of newspaper reports about a meeting in September 2006 at which a senior executive admitted “there was widespread acknowledgement that we may have gone too far in the direction of political correctness. Unfortunately, much of it is so deeply embedded in the BBC’s culture, that it is very hard to change it.””

1. I changed the title of the Wikipedia section from “Political Correctness” to “Impartiality Seminar” because this section was about the Impartiality Seminar not about general accusations of “political correctness”. This now appears to have been changed back, but the rest of my changes appear intact.

2. I did indeed rework this section. Before I did so it consisted of often inaccurate press quotes. I didn’t delete any of these but rather I added quotes from BBC sources and links to other press reports to give a more balanced account of what happened at the seminar. The seminar was streamed live on the web where anyone could see it and I made notes on the sections I watched on my internal blog. (A full transcript of the seminar is now available on the BBC Trust’s website).

The quote at the end is I think from an article by John Lloyd in Prospect magazine (I can’t confirm this because most of the article is behind a pay wall). (NB Correction 1.27 p.m. – someone has now sent me the full article from Prospect and the quote isn’t there – my apologies)

I didn’t hear it said during the seminar. And I didn’t try and edit it out of the Wikipedia article either.

I notice that despite all the fuss, no one has attempted to reverse the changes I made to the Wikipedia entry, other than the title.

I believe that the changes I made, rather than being “spin”, actually improved the Wikipedia entries and made them more accurate. Some press reporting of both the original seminar and the Bridcut report on impartiality were inaccurate and a bit partial.  But Wikipedia is supposed to have a neutral point of view.

Brian Brady’s article contains no links to any sources. Nor does it offer any opportunity for comment (apart from a general link to the Independent’s blogs).

This blog post does contain links to sources so people can judge for themselves. The ones to my internal BBC blog won’t work if you are outside the BBC firewall.

And if you want to comment you are more than welcome.

2 Responses to “BBC People Editing Wikipedia – Independent On Sunday Story”

  1. […] they publish it on the web and don’t bother to link. A story without links on the web is dead (see this). Bloggers always link, which gives them an […]

  2. […] on More WhysBlackwatch on More WhysMore Whys Nick Rey… on BBC People Editing Wikipedia -…More Whys Nick Rey… on Why Oh Why […]

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