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At ten o'clock we have a full round-up of the day's news, but
Hello and welcome to Newswatch with me, Samira Ahmed.
Coming up: As more and more people use social media
as their primary source of news, how well is BBC journalism
And were this week's reports about pensioners being better off
than those of working age misleading and divisive?
First, the ongoing tension between Donald Trump and the media
broke out into open hostilities again this week at a news
The BBC's Jon Sopel had this encounter with the president.
On the travel ban would you accept that that was a good example
Spiky exchanges of that kind seem likely to continue and we will no
doubt be examining the BBC's relationship with the White House
again soon, but for now let's leave it with a couple of comments posted
And Penny Paisley agreed it was a victory on points
The phenomenon of items on news bulletins being used to trail
forthcoming BBC current affairs programmes has been noted
Does this practice simply make the most of the BBC's
journalism across its output, or are these just plugs
Tony Francis thought two examples also on the news at six
at the start of this week fell into the latter category.
On Monday the first headline was the fact that the prisons
are in crisis and then the newsreader went on to say
there was a Panorama programme later in the evening showing
The second item on the BBC News at 6 o'clock was the fact that
a supermarket has been keeping special offers open for months
There was to be another BBC programme at 7:30pm
Seems to me that the BBC is not reporting news at all,
it is actually making its news, or trying to and at the same
time simply a matter of promoting your own programmes.
This is not what the news seems to me to be about.
Monday saw a number of complaints about a story which featured
across several bulletins and services, including
the News At One, introduced here by Sophie Raworth.
Pensioners are on average better off than those of working age
for the first time according to new research by the think tank
It says a new wave of pensioners are more likely than previous
generations to own their own home, have generous private pensions
Not mentioned in the introduction, though it was in the report that
followed, was that the calculation made by the Resolution Foundation
was based on household income after housing costs such
The BBC's own reality check on the news website said this
important factor had been mentioned little in the coverage.
It found that before housing costs are taken into account,
working age households still have higher incomes.
A number of older viewers felt that both the topline claim of the story,
that pensioners are better off than workers, and the way
that the statistics were reported, was unbalanced.
Wynne Merrill has put it with some sarcasm in his e-mail.
Now, on Thursday the Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg told the BBC
that fake news had damaged public debate, following criticism
that his site had not done enough to prevent made up or distorted
stories from appearing on its news feed.
The BBC has an interest in Facebook's reputation
as it is increasingly using it as a platform for
It's part of a strategy of embracing new, digital
technologies and social media, a revolution in how the BBC
Once upon a time, BBC News had only two means of broadcasting,
But now it is faced with a vast increasing number of ways
There is Twitter, where the BBC's breaking news account has almost
30 million followers, Instagram where more than 3 million
people follow BBC News, and of course Facebook,
where the corporation has the largest page of any news
In addition, it has started streaming some of it
output via Facebook live, as well as other live streaming
But has all this activity left some traditional licence fee paying
Penelope Noel thinks so, e-mailing us to say:
on digital media discriminates against the very many people
who are unable to afford or use digital devices.
Stories like the investigation earlier this month into wildlife
traffickers selling baby chimpanzees are now rolled out in carefully
targeted ways to different digital destinations,
attracting significant traffic on a variety of platforms.
The benefit of this strategy for BBC News is obvious
in capturing hard to reach, younger audiences where they are
already spending their time online, but there are dangers as well.
Facebook, for instance, has faced mounting criticism
for publishing fake news, so how does the BBC avoid being seen
as just another potentially unreliable news source?
And does its presence on the site risk giving away its content
without bringing people back to spend time on the
Let's explore those questions with the social media
editor for the BBC News, Mark Frenkel.
How important are social media platforms like
One of the things we have to realise about Facebook is it controls
and manages a huge proportion of the social web.
Facebook owns Instagram, whatsApp, Facebook Messenger,
there are 1.9 billion active users on Facebook.
For the BBC not to be producing content and distributing it
It would be a loss for our audiences that inhabit those spaces
and want to explore more of our content and see and engage
and enrich themselves with the information
They don't pay a licence fee, certainly Facebook doesn't.
What is the deal that the BBC has done with them for providing them
Well, Facebook is an open platform and there is nothing to stop any
publisher from producing content and distributing it
We have an arrangement with Facebook in that we produce content for live
Outside of that we are publishing regular content all the time
onto Facebook, links to articles on the BBC News website, videos
that we are producing across BBC News, and we will continue
As we know, Facebook has this problem with fake news.
One wonders if there is not just a danger that the BBC is just
another provider on there and a lot of the audience do not notice
They are just looking for the story and the BBC doesn't really get
Well, I think this is all about our values
We are not compromising anything in terms of BBC values,
objectivity and impartiality by producing content
Clearly, the content that we are producing and publishing
into that space is alongside lots of other content.
We cannot vouch for the authenticity, the voracity,
of other people's content, but what we can do is search
for our own and the more content that we produce into that space that
people see, the more they will learn to understand and trust and value
the BBC and see it relevant to their lives and the things that
What we are learning all the time here is how to produce content
in a valuable way for an audience on social media.
And it isn't just a question of taking a television
package and sticking it into a Facebook page.
You have to think about how your audience will come to it,
see it, engage with it, look to share it and so forth,
so you are having to retailor, repurpose, reposition,
think about the visuals, the impact, the text that you are putting
at the top of the piece and so forth.
But also we get a lot of complaints at Newswatch that BBC News has
Is there a danger of trying to give social media what it wants,
which might be a preoccupation with stories that really are not
very serious and that is affecting the news content that is produced
I think all the time the preoccupation that I have
and the colleagues who work with me in social media at the BBC have,
is giving our audiences things that are editorially valuable
and interesting, but at the same time will be the kind of things
we know that will interest them from a social media perspective.
It is not about dumbing down or abandoning serious news values,
it is about saying, we have got a really important story
to tell you about Syria, we have got an important story
about the American election, or whatever the story happens to be
at any moment in time, and thinking how can we make that
interesting for someone who might be coming to that story for the first
time on a social media feed or platform?
It can seem sometimes as though social media is not operating under
the same editorial guidelines as the rest of the BBC.
How far are their guidelines about how you write for social media
similar to the traditional BBC News editorials?
We have a lot of guidelines and we have a lot of editorial
thought that has gone into them and we have very rigorous
To my mind social media is another form of broadcasting.
It is not a marketing exercise, it is not an additional process
that we join up onto the end of a television programme,
We really want to reach and engage those audiences,
we want to encourage them to explore more of the content
that we are producing, but we need to take it seriously.
Just as a television programme, if you were writing the script
for the six o'clock News or the ten o'clock news, you would write
the first draft, somebody else would look over it,
there would be a process by which that script will then get
Exactly the same processes take place with our social media writing.
Thank you for all your comments this week.
If you want to share your opinions on BBC News and current affairs,
or even appear in the programme, you can call us.
That is all from us, we will be back to hear your thoughts about BBC News
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