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Page last updated at 11:58 GMT, Friday, 27 May 2005 12:58 UK

From the editor's desktop

Rick Parfitt of Status Quo
Pete Clifton, editor of this website, reflects on a return to the coalface, how a story whipped from under the BBC's nose still came out top of the charts - and a panoramic, 360-degree glimpse of our newsroom.


It was a mixed picture on the climate change front this week, and not just because Tony Blair has announced a whistlestop tour of world leaders to try to get them onside before the Gleneagles G8 summit.

In your vote last week on the important subjects for us to cover for the rest of the year, climate change came in a strong second, beaten only by the peak in oil production.

It was my request for your stock pictures to help illustrate climate change where the problems began. I suppose it was a bit vague, and we only got two.

Paul Burkimsher
One was of a cloud, and the other one was, err, this one.

Marion Burkimsher, from Geneva, says it is a perfect illustration of sudden climate change. Taken on 17 April this year outside their home, it is of husband Paul. The exhaust pipe is just out of shot.

"What happens when you get a sudden heavy fall of snow when it should be hot enough for thinking about flinging your clothes off," she writes. "At the same time other years we have been thinking of using our outdoor pool."

Yes, well, that may be the case. But I think the opportunities for us to use this on reports illustrating climate change will be rather limited.


Well, we won't be filming the editors' meeting to discuss our plans for the rest of 2005.

Nearly 49% were in favour, but I'm afraid the 42.4% who would rather watch paint dry and the 8.6% saying a more straightforward "no" have screwed the lens cap back on.

I suspect that given the reaction to the scheme in the office, a number of my editors spent the weekend regularly visiting the no button. With friends like that...

Question Time
Editor's meetings - not a crowdpuller
The meeting will go ahead, without cameras. Climate change will be a central topic, and I will be asking for some fresh thoughts on the oil production peak - we've done a fair bit on both areas before.

I also fancy setting our stall out to do something significant on "respect" in the UK. The Queen's Speech made clear that Mr Blair would be making a "culture of respect" a key part of his third term.

This sounds interesting. Take an overview of the UK now, get readers to write accounts of how it feels in their communities, then stay with it to see what improves, if anything.

Still pondering it, but help get the ball rolling with any thoughts you have on how this could take shape.

And it seems we are by no means alone in our quest to be more open about our editorial thinking. Here's The, offering a daily insight into what's coming up and how it works out. This hands on, regular, daily approach is excellent.


OK, so you didn't want a film of our meeting, but you can't escape that easily.

This week, we've taken delivery of a new camera that can take 360 degree stills or video (still can't fathom that bit out). Looks like something that would come out of a Dalek's head, but it's a nifty bit of kit.

360-degree panorama of the newsroom

Here's a shot we took this week of our main newsroom.

You get the idea. We are still getting the hang of it, but in time we will take it to events to get 360 shots, and build in "hotspots" you can hover over to get more details of what's on the picture.

We're a bit behind on this. Other parts of the BBC have done it for a while. Here is an example of some significantly underfed animals.


Monday was not the happiest of days at the BBC, as you probably know.

These are times of significant change and feelings are running high.

Picket line
Respect for workers and strikers
From my point of view it meant trying to keep the wheels on the wagon when many staff were on strike, and stressing the need for everybody in the department to respect the right of people to work or not to work - and not let our great team spirit suffer in the days that followed.

All quite tricky, and similarly demanding for me sitting down to write news reports again - research the stories, make phone calls, crop pictures, look for decent web links - phew, give me back the day job.

One story from Monday turned out to be our top-hitting news report of the week - Sisters give birth at 12, 14 and 16 - with 550,000 page impressions.

Interesting BBC case study this one. The story was the lead in the Sun that morning, and featured prominently in many other tabloids and broadsheets. It was also covered by the Sunday Mercury in Birmingham and the Press Association (PA).

It was the first we had heard about it, so we ended up pulling together some of it from PA, and crediting some quotes from the other sources.

Not our ideal way of producing a report - and where did news of this family first emerge? A BBC3 documentary .


So we were not exactly well placed for coping with a significant news event on Monday, and this was a truly dreadful accident in Ireland.

But there seems to be one rule on events in Ireland and it's if anything happens there, Cathy Grieve, who runs our newsgathering team, will know someone close by.

And so it was her brother who was ordered to walk across a few fields and become a citizen journalist. The fruits of his labour are here.


This week, anything to do with Star Wars still scores highly, including 500,000 for this unfortunate tale.

And our technology chief Alf Hermida has been performing wonders, and no doubt having a ball, at the E3 games expo in Los Angeles.

More than 2.3m page impressions for his reports to date.


Some weeks back, several of the slightly pointy-headed among you asked for a detailed rundown on how our site is put together technically.

Well, I'm assured by the man who knows that this will be ready for next Friday. And I'll also be giving you an insight into changes we are planning to make to the site later in the year.


Adam Tucker, of Oxford, UK, asked if this was evidence "of a desperate attempt to find a way around today's (Monday's) strike". Recruiting in playgrounds now.

Do you actually get paid to write this?
Manchester, UK
By the way, our chums in Sport have stacks of interesting ideas, and I thought this way of reflecting the euphoria after Liverpool's win was a great mix of correspondents and the fans. Popular too, with 675,000 page impressions.

Luke Bennett of Stratford Upon Avon, UK, wanted to know why the BBC's radio player did not work properly in Firefox. I'm told it's a technical problem with embedded Real Player, and the BBC is talking to Mozilla about it. In the meantime, there is info here.

Graham Shone of Ontario, Canada, summed up the thoughts of many on the "filming the meeting" front. "I really do not think that even I, a redneck cold beer-swilling Canadian, could stomach the thought of watching a group of self-important stuffed shirts and ties (editors) discuss what may be important to me in several months time."

And somebody anonymous, but I suspect they work in my department and an immediate inquiry has been launched, wrote to the column: "Pete, given how much you f****** like to throw about f****** profanities every 10 f****** seconds, are you f****** sure it is a good idea to film the f****** editors' meeting? Think some of your readers would be just a little bit shocked."

Emily Smyth from York wanted to know when we would announce the winner of our bumper election competition, with amazing prizes like a cut-out of Andrew Marr. Well, it took a while to sort through the 40,000 entries, but at last the details are here. Hope the winner has a wide letter box.

Every one of your pointless, tedious ramblings on the front page of BBC News Online has pushed a more worthy story off the front page
Joe Baldwin
Chesham, UK
Fans of the Magazine have been writing again. David Damiral from Maputo, Mozambique wanted to know if the Lunchtime Bonus Question had been finally killed off.

He points out that a fan site,, was spawned on the back of it and adds: "Given your enthusiasm for transparency in the editorial process, would a public word of explanation not be in order?"

Giles Wilson, the curious fellow in charge of the Magazine section, responded: "The Lunchtime Bonus Question gave long and undistinguished service to the Magazine. But following a marmalade revolution (an in-joke), it's now taking a break and has given way to the Daily News Question on the Magazine Index, which appears each weekday, and which will be popular with anyone who likes our regular Friday news quiz."

Wiping away the tears after that in-joke, I'm hit by tears of despair. Among the choicest abuse this week, John of Manchester, UK, asked: "Do you actually get paid to write this?"

Joe Baldwin of Chesham, UK, observed: "Every one of your pointless, tedious ramblings on the front page of BBC News Online has pushed a more worthy story off the front page."


Just the one brain?

Numerous people objected to my picture still appearing, but the misery was lightened by more lookalike suggestions. So we will use some of them for the next few weeks instead.

You can send me your comments using the form below. Don't forget, though, that if you want to point out an error or have a complaint you want dealt with, the best place to go will normally be our Feedback page.

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