Sunday 19 July 2015

So what happened to James Naughtie over 'the DNA scandal'?

Just to 'bump up' an exchange on an earlier comments thread...

...and to update you on a story we covered in March 2014...

Anonymous, 19 July 2015 at 13:17
Speaking of Naughtie, was there ever any public statement from the BBC about him and his mate with the DNA business?

Craig, 19 July 2015 at 14:37 
That's a very good question. We last heard about that on 9th March last year.  
From what I can see, the BBC's Editorial Complaints Unit finally published its ruling on 15th April 2014, and this was then published on the (barely-read) Corrections and Clarifications page website:
The odd thing about its public summary is that it doesn't mention James Naughtie by name, despite upholding the complaint [against him].  
The key bit is what action was then taken:
"Further action:
The Editor of Today discussed the findings with the team and emphasised the need for careful scrutiny of the claims of commercial companies and the avoidance of undue on-air promotion."
So, there you have it. All that happened was that the Today editor discussed it with the Today team. 
The long slog by UCL to get anywhere is outlined in all its gory detail here:
It makes for interesting reading, especially as UCL tried to have the matter taken further, up to the BBC Trust - but got nowhere with that. They don't seem at all happy with the BBC's further responses either.


  1. So that discussion would have been happening about the time the TODAY Programme were promoting Prince and Kate Bush and various other "commercial companies' " products?

    Yes. Very effective.

  2. Ah... the BBC and long slogs. That UCL epic is a treat.

    I have just had a very speedy reply (of sorts) to my latest complaint asking why a certain HYS opened, closed, re-opened and then closed for ever, obliterating many posts that were, shall we say, BBC-unkind.

    Here it is:

    "We understand you were unhappy with the closing of the Comments section for the following article:

    We open a limited number of stories to audience comments each day, partly because of the cost of moderation, partly to ensure we'll see an interesting and informed debate. We have to avoid allowing comments on some stories, such as where there are legal restrictions. We choose the stories for commenting carefully, based on the topicality of the story, audience interest and the likelihood of interesting and informed debate taking place.

    We’re sorry you were unhappy with when the Comments section closed and, noting your comment about the section closing and re-opening and comment numbers resetting, there may have been a temporary technical fault which was then resolved – we note that the section is now closed and has 679 comments.

    Thank you for your feedback about BBC News. Please know complaints are sent to senior management and news teams every morning and we’ve included your points in our overnight reports. These reports are among the most widely read sources of feedback in the BBC and ensure that complaints are seen quickly by the right people.

    NB This is sent from an outgoing account only which is not monitored. You cannot reply to this email address but if necessary please contact us via our webform quoting any case number we provided."

    I do believe I may nudge this one up a notch, even though they of course require one to start at 'Go' all over again to do so.

    I'll keep it short.

    "there may have been a temporary technical fault which was then resolved"

    Well, that's one heck of a 'may'. Why reply before anyone actually knows?

    "we note that the section is now closed and has 679 comments."

    Yes. I noted that too. Also the 700+ 'lost' from the previous version... a point totally ignored.

    As they do.

  3. Doubtless now lost in the wake, but I did persist and got this:

    "Thank you for your further correspondence about the comments facility on the story about the BBC Green Paper and we're sorry the reply from our central complaints team did not address your concerns.

    In fact, the answer is simply that there were two different stories in that slot on that day, as you can see from these URLs:

    The first was a preview, looking ahead to the Green Paper, which received 713 comments. When the paper was issued, there was a replacement story and comments were invited on the new information it contained.

    During the move from one story to then other, readers of the original article were told that the comments were closing but that the discussion would be continued at the new page.

    The original 713 comments are still available here:

    We hope that explains the situation. You're right that the complaints handlers should have checked before sending their initial reply, and we are happy to remind them of that."

    Now, what to do?

    They have replied, explained... even conceded.

    And that... is that.

    Does it get noted as a plus on my side? Or a minus as the case is, as far as the BBC is concerned, closed?

    Thing is, I need to check and with luck my page captures have the URLs on too. Because I only ever saved one page to revisit. So how did what I was following become something else? I was certainly not alone in this. Something still whiffs here.

    I think I may need to find time to revisit and rekindle my complaints archive sites, and try to unravel the bits that were stumping me.

    The apparent ability to and success with introducing sensible registration at BBBC has inspired me that the trolls need not prevail, so with luck a system on Wordpress or Blogger can still ensure it's harder to false flag or poison wells.


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