Monday, April 07, 2008

More of Have Their Say?

Last week, we reported on the BBC's use of the Have Your Say to select quotes for stories and the possibility that this system was being abused by the BBC to give their own views. In that instance a quote was provided that was supportive of the BBC when it was way down on the list of popular sentiments.

Today I checked the Have Your Say page. The question asked is "Should sport and politics mix?" in relation to the Olympic Torch and the occupation of Tibet. There are two quotes selected. One reads "Those who disrupted the torch relay should be fined, jailed and where necessary, deported" which appears on page 11 when ordered according to recommendations, but at least it has 12 of those. The other comment reads "I have nothing but contempt for "personalities" who've chosen to endorse this mockery of the Olympic spirit" from one "Adrian, UK". Only trouble is, this doesn't even appear to be a published comment.

Perhaps the BBC could publish their rules for these sorts of things to avoid confusion. This comment may well be one of the 1149 in the moderation queue, but if it has been published one must assume that it has been moderated. And why have the "Readers Recommended" option if the BBC continually ignores those comments?

The entire system is open to abuse. Since effectively the BBC can get any quote it wants from the thousands provided it is left to someone to choose one quote. And with apparently no oversight on the selection process it is all too easy to choose a nice quote that fits the mindset of the person writing the article and instantly it becomes an opinion piece not a news article. So if the BBC is going to continue to use this quoting system there needs to be an awful lot more transparency.