Apologise, reprimand South Today, insist it never happens again

To: The Director General, BBC

From: Neil Winton

Can I insist that you change your editorial guidelines to outlaw the disgraceful reporting by BBC SOUTH TODAY on June 17, which smeared Dr Rodney Tate.

I’ve attached a copy of my email to The Editor, South Today, and the reply, in the form of a blog published on my website.

Apparently, your editorial guidelines now apparently state, as if you were the Sun/Mirror/Star – “Feel free to use an anonymous interviewee, back to camera, to say suggestive things about a person, as long as that person is in a weak position, and has a background that can be used to make them look guilty. It doesn’t matter that the content of the interview adds up to nothing, it is the impression that counts. It doesn’t matter what harm you do to this person, it is the story above all”

Can I suggest that you change your editorial guidelines to something like this.

“When you have an anonymous interviewee, because of the danger that innuendo can cause, the content of the interview must be compelling, and move the story on in an important way. For an anonymous interview to be used, the content of that interview must speak for itself, bringing important new information to public attention. You will never descend to “no smoke without fire” journalism.”

I’m sure you will agree that BBC South Today’s behaviour in this case was inexcusable and obnoxious. You should apologise to Dr Tate, reprimand BBC South Today, and lay down guidelines to make sure these tactics are left to the gutter press, which you sadly seem so keen to emulate.

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