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Look at this!

January 22, 2011

I spent much too much of my university career engaged in a criminal neglect of proper journalistic standards. However, it’s not as if someone was paying me for writing sloppily… so it’s with great pleasure that I can announce that the BBC has published new journalism guidelines demanding it’s writers to cite their sources. EXCITING STUFF EH?

So it is with great irony that I can’t actually link you to the new guidelines.

I can, however, link you to a guardian  news article regarding this incredible new development that is happening RIGHT THIS SECOND.

So have you read it yet? Check it out. Now all news articles printed (on the internet and by the BBC) are required to be backed up by primary sources. Apparently all these years spent citing the source of your story as just another news story were not good enough. Gee! I wonder why?

Anyway, this is great news which will hopefully save eager consumers of the news from fumbling around the dingy, less well-cited parts of the internet looking for the papers that newsarticles so frequently cite without actually giving the sources. Want to know what the source of the article: Army ants are not destroyers of worlds“? Well it’s easy! Bam! Instant source!

It’s not all good though. Because unknown to some, there is a secret agreement amongst certain news sources to never ever apply rigorous journalistic standards to their news writing. In fact, for some papers would pretty much be tantamount to admitting that your science reporting is actually a load of bullocks and that people should just have healthy diets and not worry about wether toast causes cancer or not. However, simply having to supply the source of your claims does not guareantee that the source is a good one (there are PLENTY of bad studies and PLENTY of biased journals for the unscrupulous reporters to choose from) but it does at least allow the humble reader to engage in at least some skeptical enquiry.

The less we are subjected to the mercy of the news-writer the better is what I say.

P.s. Although this is news for the newspaper industry, other sites have been including sources in their articles for yonks. Check out science daily. Do it.

[edit] Here is the link to the BBC guidelines.

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