In December the BBC’s Africa Have Your Say program thought it would be a reasonable question to ask web visitors if gays should be executed, like Uganda’s parliament is considering. Many complained. The BBC would like them to go away now.
The BBC Trust, which oversees the taxpayer-funded media conglomerate, has dismissed complaints about the online poll, saying BBC global news director Peter Horrocks’ apology was enough, the Guardian notes.
Today in its monthly bulletin, the ESC – which is made up of BBC trustees – said it agreed that “the language was too ‘stark’” and that “because there had not been clear signposting, offence had been caused notwithstanding the clear editorial purpose of the material”.
“However, the committee also noted that Mr Horrocks had apologised for any offence caused. The committee therefore concluded, with regard to the phrasing of the headline that, while it was agreed that the initial headline was an error – not only for its starkness but also because it did not make clear that the headline referred specifically to Uganda – it recognised that BBC management had apologised promptly and this had resolved the issue. The committee agreed no further action was required,” the ESC added.
“The committee noted that, given the global availability of the BBC website, online content producers would now have to be more aware that all material they produce is universally available via the internet. Hence, headlines that might cause offence to certain audiences needed greater contextualisation than previously.”
That’s right, “online content producers.” Remember that not just narrow, limited-focus populations might see your questions when you hit Publish. And when all else fails, rewrite them.