BBC stealth editing is alive and well – and science reporting remains sloppy

As seasoned B-BBC readers are all too aware, the BBC has an unpleasant habit of editing elements of its stories, without changing the ‘last updated’ timestamp in the article header – an activity known as stealth editing.

The corporation was at it again today in its coverage of the failed Russian mission to send a probe to Mars and return with material from the planet’s surface. The Phobos-Grunt launch saw the probe trapped in Earth orbit and gravity slowly bringing it back through the atmosphere. Today was the day the splashdown happened, and Auntie’s science correspondant, Jonathan Amos, made sure the write up contained suitably dramatic imagery to capture the spectacle of re-entry.

Only the image used was nothing to do with the re-entry and was a radar image with colouration added and it was taken five days ago. The Watts Up With That? blog highlighted the BBC’s sloppiness and explained how radar images are in fact colour-free.

Sometime this afternoon, after WUWT published their blog posting, the BBC replaced the image on the story as you can see below.

The sharp-eyed of you out there will notice that the BBC has tried to hide the alteration by not updating the ‘last updated’ timestamp. Yet again we have an example of stealth editing. In this case it is just a change of image. However, often it is the copy that is altered and at times it is done in a way that changes the emphasis or context of a story so the revised article reads very differently to the original.

Is it just sloppy web management, or is it a case of, “Nothing to see here, we didn’t get anything wrong and correct it after a blog in the US highlighted our mistake”? Either way, it has created a niche for a website called News Sniffer which records many of the BBC’s article revisions for comparison purposes.

It is a terrible indictment of the BBC that because of its stealth editing behaviour and habit of quietly tinkering with news articles, a resource like News Sniffer has become so important.

Qualifications Not Required

Writing on her blog in 2006 Katia Moskvitch says “In about a month I will finally graduate and become a “real” journalist!

How’s that working out for her? Becoming a Russian reporter for the BBC was only the start – having demonstrated her scientific prowess with this Junior Wikipedia and GCSE textbook-fueled report on  nuclear power we now witness her inevitable rise to:

BBC News – Geoengineering ‘not a solution’ to sea-level rise
By Katia Moskvitch
Science reporter, BBC News

BBC Science at its best: Believe in global warming? Good. Know anything about science? Okay, doesn’t matter, you’re in anyway. Can you start on Monday?

Hat-tip to Englishman’s Castle


Biased BBC contributor Chris Hartnett writes..

Heard the BBC Today programme this morning!

Two separate universities were peddling terrible science-Durham and Bristol no less!

1.Durham tell me that monkeys smell the genes of suitable mates!

This is clearly due to (and therefore confirmation of) natural selection. WE don`t know HOW they do this but we can say that they do it deliberately! This confirms the famous “smelly T-shirt tests” of the 90s and shows that we too will no doubt “unconsciously” choose our mates in the same way-hold the Downs Syndrome research please! This was Durham University Anthropology Departments offering!

2. Bristol tell me that-on this the day of a “strategic policy announcement” by the Government by happy coincidence-that a survey of 1300 girls and vulnerable Young women shows that all men and boys are “totally beastly”. They need to be told early in primary school that domestic violence is” inappropriate “(“out of order!” for those less gifted maybe?) and the senior research “fellow”(surely Harman needs another word here!)-one Quango Christine Barter(honest!)-tells us that they all lack self-esteem(natch!). This is what Bristol’s Centre for Gender and Violence(formerly under Luton University’s wing until all inequality was removed there in 2005!) offered us up to the news at 8.00!

So my points?

James Naughtie may know his opera but does he have the first clue about science-a survey of 1300 girls say that boys can be “totally” a pain-did Barter ask Jane Andrews? is 1300 a sufficient survey size?-might not her department get a little funding and support for its agenda?-were the NSPCC and other charities helpful-and why today to coincide with State plans? many questions!

Are the great gods of “equality and men bashing” as well as Darwins theory (no chance mate-its fact or you`re excommunicated from the funding streams!) to be indulged by the liberal arts graduates who put these asinine gobbets of pseudo science into the mouths of the Today presenters?

Lets hear no more about dumbing down from Durham or Bristol unless they set out whether their funding depends on getting on Naughties stump to smear teatree oil over all their academic reputations-UEA ought to warn them that it`s slippery out there!