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Last Updated: Friday, 10 June, 2005, 10:59 GMT 11:59 UK
From the editor's desktop
Pete Clifton, editor of the BBC News website, reveals the five words of wisdom used when he picked up two awards for the site at the Webbys - the internet's answer to the Oscars.


Thanks to everyone for sending in speeches for the big night in New York. I logged on from the hotel beforehand and printed them off to read - all 66 pages of them.

It kept me going on the ferry to the Statue of Liberty, and back again, and queuing for the Empire State Building. None of your obvious tourist traps for me.

In the end I turned down Matthew Borghese from Miami, Florida who sent in nearly 40 Latin phrases. They included "Dic mihi solum facta, domina" (Just the facts, ma'am) and the less relevant "Aio, quantitas magna frumentorum est" (Yes, that is a very large amount of corn).

These would have been tricky for me to sort out, given the jollities surrounding the occasion, and I was also wary of most of Mike Scott's effort from Woking, UK: "Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis antidisestablishmentarianism floccinaucinihilipilification honorificabilitudinitatibus - thanks."

Webby award
Given the rather individual style of the trophy I was tempted by Neil Gerstenberg from Scotland with his "Sweat and toil... nets coil!"

Neil asked if he didn't win could I link to his CelticJazz website. Fair enough.

And proving that Scotland is a hotbed of creativity, the winner was Nick Athanasiou from Glasgow. Noting the event was in New York, and recalling the Sinatra anthem, he suggested: "Don't stop spreading the news".

So I marched on stage to pick up the award, and full of the joy of the evening, decided to sing the five words for added effect. Seemed like a good idea at the time, and at some point you might even be able to see it on the awards site (www.webbyawards.com). You can already see all the winners listed here, including our friends from BBC OneMusic for best music site.

Lifetime achievement award went to former US vice president Al Gore, who also had one of the best speeches - "please don't recount the vote".

One of the biggest laughs of the night went to the chap who suggested the trophy looked like, well, a slinky in a state of high excitement.

We beat everybody else in the world!

I was already well into the celebrating when BBC Radio Five Live rang up and conducted a live interview. You can hear it by clicking the link above. It includes a rant about tank tops. It was that kind of evening.


Our "Day in Iraq" coverage was unveiled on 7 June ( www.bbc.co.uk/iraqday ) and I thought it went really well. We provided a detailed look at the day, chronicling news events, a wide range of photographs and some fascinating pieces from people living in the country. Even a weather forecast.

The day was made all the better by our friends from BBC World Service, News24 and Five Live joining the theme. Between us it represented an in-depth look at the troubled country without just focusing on the latest bomb attacks.

On Monday, the same Iraq link as the one above will launch a far wider-ranging look at 7 June in Iraq, with more facts, people's stories and pictures. I think the format works well, and we will look for other "days" in the future. I'd welcome any suggestions.


Looking for more "days in" was one of the conclusions of the planning meeting we held recently for the rest of 2005. We were joined for the meeting by Robert Holbach, a student in Wales. You can read his thoughts on the day here.

On the World side of things, our priorities for the remainder of the year include more on Iraq, the BBC's upcoming Africa season and the G8 - we thought we might try to set up a range of different voices from around the world, sending their messages to the leaders ahead of the Gleneagles summit.

We are also planning some reporting trips to mark the Gaza pull-out, and the UN summit in the autumn. We are also pondering if we could base a reporter, a camera and a laptop in a remote village somewhere and show the reality of people's lives there. Afghanistan was one possibility, but we're still thinking.

On the UK side of things, we will be sending reporters to Gleneagles to stare through the fence and file colour from around the event, there's the Trafalgar anniversary later this month, the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II, the Tory leadership race and a law change for gay partnerships.

Away from the diary, we'll have a three week series on illegal drugs in the UK, more on the nuclear power debate, a series on breadline Britain 60 years after the introduction of the welfare state, a series on respect in the UK, and a new column, we hope, by a BBC religious correspondent.

And Robert's thoughts? There were plenty, including how top-up fees may affect student intake in the next academic year if different parts of the UK have different rules, a return to Guantanamo Bay to question what is happening there, and the refusal of some pharmacists in the US to provide the contraceptive pill.


I mentioned last week our new appeal for readers to send us their news stories or tip-offs. We've had about 60 so far - two are strong health stories, and a couple for our Africa desk. Plenty of high octane nonsense, of course, but definitely worth persevering with. So keep us posted.


Another dozen asking about the picture was at the top of the column last week. There's a thread here, but I can't go over it again. But thanks anyway to Louis Berk, of London for: "Has anyone told you that you bear an uncanny resemblance to Captain Jean Luc Picard of the Star Ship Enterprise." Well yes, they have. Eleven others in fact.

Brian McCaig, from Paisley is by no means the only person to say: "Please, please, please make external links open in a new browser window! I've written about this a zillion times and it still drives me nuts being taken away from the BBC site when I click a link."

Sorry, not quite enough pleading there Brian, and you'll need to write a few more times. Personally, I don't like loads of browsers opening up, and I'm in charge. Furthermore, I asked one of my web production gurus, and he reckoned: "Surveys do show that most people prefer not to have to manage lots of browser windows and use the back button instead. Also a lot of web users tend to use the right-click/open in new window browser functionality themselves when they know they are clicking an external link.

"The key thing is to make people aware of what's going to happen before they click - on our site we always clearly label our external links so that users know they risk leaving the site if they click on them, and most other BBC sites are now also following that standard. Then if people want a new window, they can use normal right-click browser functionality to do that if they wish. So for these reasons, and many more, the BBC as a whole weighed it up and decided against it and has put that in the HTML standards guidelines."

Lots of responses to my rundown last week on some of the changes we are looking at making to the site. Please don't fret too much, nothing mad is going to happen and the site will still, hopefully, win awards (I've got plenty of speeches handy now).

Hugh from London cautioned against using "impact" front pages too often. He feels they should be used sparingly, and I agree, but if a really major story happens it is useful to have it as an option.

Emma Griffiths from Bristol asked if we could make available a copy of our main front page for each day as an archive feature. Neat idea, we'd have to decide at what point in the day we did it, and our index pages are just made up of lots of different stories. The index changes all the time and capturing it could be tricky but I'll ask again about this.

In the meantime there is always our Week at a Glance one of our, er, less well-frequented services, so all clicks gratefully received.

There were also lots of questions about video, and I will check those out before next week.

Andrew White, from Sao Paulo, Brazil, asked if we could split the Americas index so the US does not overshadow Latin America. Would be great, I agree, we currently simply don't have the staffing to do much more than we do now. But for the first time we will be appointing an Americas editor shortly to oversee coverage in this area, so there should be some improvements on that index, unless we pick the wrong person.

Outrageously informal message of the week from Rajat Suri, of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada: "Keep up the good work Cliffie! Your column rocks!" Cliffie? I tried to figure out who this could be...

And a couple of postscripts on the Webby speech.

Dom M from London suggested: "`Babbling Boastful Congratulations on homepage' ... since I am sure a picture and report will be there on Tuesday morning!"

Well there wasn't. Our reporter lost his camera in a yellow cab and also failed to file any words from the scene of the triumph. He's a disgrace.

And Ron Tokis, another one of our London fans, was quick to embrace the spirit of the speeches with the following entry.

"I know the BBC news is unreliable and cannot report on any story without giving it a left wing bias. I realise our reporters are sent to the ends of the earth to cover stories no other news organisation is remotely interested in. I realise that the BBC has not produced a single quality programme for many years and is intent on wasting money on digital channels no-one watches. Frankly the BBC used to be one of the best things about Britain and is now one of the worst.

"But I am so cheap I can't write my own speech. Please do it for me." (applause)

It's not five words Ron. Anyone got five words for Ron?

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