Assignment #1 - News and Information


BBC News logo

BBC News is a division of the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) which gathers and broadcasts news and information.  It "is the world's largest broadcast news organization and generates about 120 hours of radio and television output each day, as well as online news coverage."  BBC News covers news internationally as well as in the UK.  The BBC and BBC news operate under Royal Charter and are financed through TV fees that everyone pays in the UK.  The government doesn't oversee or control it, but its coverage must be "balanced and unbiased." It's regarded as owned by the people of the UK. Video

BBC World News logo

In 2014, the BBC commissioned a poll by an impartial polling service. They polled UK adults who read the news about which sources they felt were trustworthy and impartial. The BBC was the top rated under both impartiality and trust.  According to Business Insider in 2014, Pew Research polls show that the BBC News is one of the most trusted news outlets in the U.S. A British poll in 2015 found BBC News to be the most accurate, reliable and trustworthy.  The Trusting News Project study reported in 2017 that BBC news was the third most trustworthy news in the US.  The Simmons News Media Trust Index in 2018 found BBC news to be the 4th most trusted news outlet in the U.S. BBC News was named as one of the Top 5 Unbiased World News Sources Free from Censorship in 2019.

BBC News umbrella

Despite the public's faith in the BBC News, the organization has been criticize many times over the years of being both pro-left and pro-right, pro-government and anti-government, pro-Israel  and anti-Israel, and pro-war.  I believe that most corporations, and especially news organizations, face these criticisms from people who don't like what they're saying (even if they're giving facts and being impartial). Video

BBC News anchor

TheConversation website did a content analysis of the BBC news in 2013 that found BBC News to be more to the right in their stories, favoring conservatives and business, and being anti-EU.
In 2018, MediaBiasFactCheck found that the BBC has a "slight-to-moderate left bias," in their selection of stories. They found that they had never once failed a fact check.

Ofcom logo

This year, because of the concerns in the UK over Brexit, the British regulatory agency Ofcom has been looking into whether the BBC News is still impartial and trustworthy. They're looking at the "range and depth of analysis in news and current affairs" in the BBC News platforms as compared to other UK news outlets.  They're concerned about some recent changes in BBC News, such as more panel-style news coverage, which is not as in-depth as regular news; and because they cut their international news show "This World" in half. They report that only 61% of regular BBC News viewers rated it highly for impartiality. Video

Politics Live news panel

BBC News announced programming changes at the end of last year, stressing that they need to make "substantial savings" while still providing "offering distinctive content."  The BBC is probably struggling more financially and trying to keep up with the current times better than they have in the past (as most TV networks are in the 21st century). Video

Breaking News on BBC News

Of course, The BBC News (nor any news organization) is not perfect.  People operate it, and people are not perfect. They have made some mistakes in their 95 years in business.  When these mistakes come out, there is scandal and controversy, and the people in charge resign or are fired. This happens in just about every organization in the world, and BBC News is no different. In general, they generally run their news programs with the same "impartiality, independence and accuracy" that they've always had. Video

Free Spech in the UK

The UK has freedom of speech and of the press, but it's not exactly the same as what we have in the U.S.  Our constitution guarantees us these rights. They have a few more restrictions on their freedoms than we do, but the difference is not that noticeable. The BBC does publish in an atmosphere of free speech in the UK as much as The U.S. or Canada.  The UK is rated 33 in the press freedom index, which shocked me. I thought the UK was a little better about those sorts of things (The U.S. is down at #48). Video

various UK news agencies

The BBC News TV broadcast can be seen nightly in the UK or live on their website.  An American version used to be seen on BBC America, but they dropped it in 2011. Those of us in the U.S. can now only see BBC News on the BBC News Channel, which is on DirecTV, Verizon FIOS and some PBS and streaming stations. You can also see video clips from the channel on their website and on YouTube. Video

screenshot of the BBC News site

The BBC News website is a standard news website as you would see here in the U.S.  It's very similar to the websites for CNN, FOX, MSNBC, New York Times et al.  There are just a few ads, but they cover tons of stories and have many videos.  Their home page includes headlines from all of their different news sections. The navigation bar at the top shows their main sections for World news, UK news, US and Canada news, Business news, tech news, science news and more. Video

screenshot of The Canary, an alternative UK site.

 There are many alternative newspapers in the UK where you might find news that's not covered on the BBC or mainstream newspapers. The left-wing media site OpenDemocracy.net lists all of the major UK newspapers and the wealthy (mostly right-wing) billionaires and corporations that own them. This article also discusses when the owners of the paper interfere with the news.  The BBC and other TV news networks are blamed for not covering certain political topics (such as Brexit) in an honest way. The site also lists some alternative papers that are more trustworthy. Wikipedia also has a list of UK alternative press. Video

various UK news media

It's impossible to have completely unbiased news sources, whether in print, on TV or on the Web.  News is investigated, written about, and reported on by human beings, who have biases. I believe that anyone in the UK looking for different national or international news perspectives should first go to the BBC News Network (or their website), then read The Guardian, then read the other national papers (such as The Sun or the Daily Mirror), and then look into the alternative news sources, to figure out what's really going on. Here's a list of all of the UK media outlets. Video

UK public trust graph


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