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BBC apologises to Manchester Evening News for “lapses in editorial standards”


The BBC has issued a lengthy statement following a report about news coverage in Greater Manchester.

During the Today programme last month, Radio 4 focused on The Mill and whether its subscription email letter service was a “new model” for local journalism.

“The report did not make it sufficiently clear when it was referring to local journalism in the UK in general and when it was referring to the situation in Greater Manchester in particular,” read the statement from the BBC.

“The report also did not offer the Manchester Evening News the opportunity to respond to a number of claims made, despite referring to the Manchester Evening News by name.”

In the feature, Joshi Herrmann the founder of The Mill says that local journalism needs to be rebuilt, including the levels of scrutiny and connecting people to their neighbourhoods.

Later the journalist links into a quote from a contributor stating that The Mill “appeals in a way that the website Manchester Evening News never has…”

The contributor then states that she “finds that newspaper websites are just rammed with clickbait and sensationalism and just kind of about celebs.”

Following a complaint by Reach, the BBC statement continued:

“We should have offered a right to reply to the claim that local journalism ‘needs to be rebuilt, including in the level of scrutiny it offers and in reporting the richness of the places where people live. We should also have sought a response to the suggestion that the Manchester Evening News website is ‘just rammed with clickbait and sensationalism and just kind of about celebrities to be honest.’”

“Reach, which publishes the Manchester Evening News, has told us that it is not the case that scrutiny is absent or greatly reduced in Manchester or other areas served by a Reach title. It says the MEN uncovered the Awaab Ishaak scandal and an investigation on grooming has also been discussed in Parliament. It also says the Manchester Evening News also presents regular features which seek to celebrate local life.

“Reach has also told us The Manchester Evening News online never writes clickbait – stories which mislead in the headline to get people on site – and that TV and celebrity content on the website make up less than 5% of the articles published.”

The BBC added that they “agreed that more detailed facts would have given listeners more content to assess the health of local journalism in Greater Manchester.”

It concluded:

“We apologise for these lapses in our editorial standards.”

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