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Last Updated: Monday, 28 March 2005, 14:14 GMT 15:14 UK
From the editor's desktop: Your response
Pete Clifton, editor of the BBC News website, takes a look back at a difficult week in the newsroom - read a selection of your comments.

Your comments:

I have been an enthusiastic user of the site for years now - I recommend it to all my clients, and all my friends. I make sure that my students hear about the site. I tell them how 5 minutes a day on the World News page will give them an overview of what's happening in the world, something that American news simply does not do any longer. Those who've chosen it as their start page have developed a noticeably greater understanding of the world - I can't thank you enough for the service.
Madeline Crowley, Seattle, WA

As a Welsh exile, please could I ask you not to reduce your Welsh news coverage. I note the comments of your editor that he intends to concentrate on "world and UK news". We exiles can get this anywhere by terrestrial radio and TV. Many of us, like me, can get our Welsh, or Scottish or Northern Irish news, as the case may be, only from your Internet news service. Please do not abandon us or reduce us to mere headlines.
Meurig Williams, Bagshot, Surrey, UK

Personalisation could be a nuisance if cookies used to administer it interfere with anti-virus software. For many people being virus-free and without too much hassle is a high priority. Also it could be irritating to find after the event that a pre-set profile resulted in blocking items of interest outside the prescribed range
Rosalind Hibbins, London UK

The BBC should drastically reduce staff even further. Starting with people who think "chewing gum can enhance breasts" is news. And read it on TV -- because they read whatever is put before them -- or on websites.
Blaine Sternin, Barbados W.I.

This is a truly entertaining article. So can we know how many hits you've had on this article?
Fahad, logan, utah, USA

Re Canapes and Cocaine: what is the BBC's editorial policy on "True Life Confessions" stories such as this? The reader has no way of knowing whether this story is true. Did the writer tell the editor the source? Was the source then questioned by the editor? Did the writer say she was the source?

Whatever the situation everyone knows that such human interest stories are regularly made up, or embellished with invented quotes, in newspapers and magazines. They have even won Pulitzer prizes in the States. The justification is usually that they are "true" even though not factual, and that no harm is done to anyone. I hope you will be very sparing in your future use of such stories. If not though, let me know. I may be no journalist but I can produce a short "some names have been changed" type piece on any subject at short notice.
David Evans, York

BBC on-line is refreshing. In addition to great news coverage, I like the ability to go "wide-screen" and read about chewing gum that increases breast size--no I'm not into kinky. But it's news, it's reality, it's fascinating and it's what science, technology and health are uncovering in the 21st century. Keep it up.
Bill Sliderq, West River, MD, USA

Please no personalisation. I have filled out extensive "personalisation" lists and they very rarely work. Two prime examples are Amazon and Britannia DVD and CV "club" - I have given up using book clubs for the same reason. The joy of reading a newspaper in any form is reading things one would not define as being of primary interest. I for instance think anyone who votes Labour a misguided idiot but I still want to read the opinions of people who disagree with me and I read pieces every day about subjects I would never list as being of interest to me.
Sheila Dennis, York

Fact is, everyone likes a little junk food with their news
Mark Hill, Ottawa, Canada
You mention above that low-brow stories such as gum that enhances breasts seem to get a lot of page views. I'd be a little careful of assuming that this means readers want a dumbed down paper (I know it's a website, but in my mind it's an online newspaper). Fact is, everyone likes a little junk food with their news. So people go on your site (or pick up the paper) and read coverage of those areas of serious news that interest them.

These areas vary from reader to reader. But everyone reads the same few junk food stories. So it looks like the junk is more popular. As an analogy, imagine a buffet supper with all sorts of meats and potatoes and salads and other savories, but only one desert choice. Each guest would select his or her preferred supper, but everyone would have the same desert. Therefore, you'd assume that the most popular food choice was chocolate cake.
Mark Hill, Ottawa, Canada

Is the majority of the feedback you get positive? I'd have stopped writing the column if all of the e-mails were like those of David McDowell and Pete McCormick. To balance them out a bit, I'd say that your column is fast becoming a must-read for me - I'd much rather hear how (some of) the license fee is used from a man who actually spends it than from a prepared-by-the-governers statistical breakdown sheet. Plus your sense of humour is normally bang on, so I get a good laugh as well. Keep up the good work on the site, and on this column.
Rob Woodgate, Swansea

As an expatriate Brit living out here in the USA I can truly say that the BBC News website is my lifeline. It is set as my home page and provides a window to what is really happening, both back home and in the World as well as being a vital cultural connection. I was a BBC Radio Engineer in the early part of my career and consider the BBC to be, without doubt the finest broadcasting organisation in the World. It is an institution that the UK can and should be justifiably proud of. Long live the BBC.
Tony Mitchelhill, Denver, Colorado, USA

I agree with your correspondent who says your images are not large enough. Even when there is an 'enlarge' option it rarely improves matters. So many images seem to be the size of a 35mm slide. I find it difficult at my advanced years (55) to see them. There must be many people with the same problem.
Colin Whyles, Sudbury, Suffolk, UK

I'm very disappointed to hear that the site may be slimmed down. I use this website as my primary source of news information as I don't enjoy TV news. I like to choose what I read and accessiblity 24 hours a day is perfect for me. The idea of a personalised site is great - I'd like to be able to set my own BBC site as my homepage - knowing what I enjoy reading. As well as the news and current affairs, I also enjoy the entertainment and sports pages. Please don't reduce what is a fantastic servcie!
Sarah Keery, Hednesford, Staffordshire

People read editors' comments in a newspaper so why not on line? I think it is an interesting take on the week.
Fiona Macartney, Rugby, UK

It is important to me to be able to choose from the full selection of news
Alizanne Collier, Boston, USA
Living in the US, I love the international perspective offered by BBC world news, and visit your site daily. I am young, and not usually "traditional", but it is important to me to be able to choose from the full selection of news. Even if I only read the headline it is valuable for me to see the news more broadly. I would be very sad to see they BBC world news "tailored" to my most frequent hits- it is my route out of cocooning! Thanks for a great service.
Alizanne Collier, Boston, USA

BBC programming - news, world service and entertainment radio programming - provides a tremendous service to many around the world. The BBC has become my primary source of news, since much of the information provided is simply not available in either the USA corporate-controlled or government-controlled press. I now pay nothing for it. While the US economy is "recovering" only for the already rich, I would gladly contribute a small amount to support the BBC in addition to (or perhaps instead of) the contribution I make to my local listener-supported (but government and corporate controlled) National Public Radio station. Since I use and value the BBC more, this seems only fair.

Perhaps you could set up some convenient means for those in other countries to financially support the BBC, or specific types of programming. I suspect that many of us would do so, either out of guilt or appreciation. Keep up the good work! Michael Daley
Michael Daley, Occidental, USA

Why has the DG taken these steps other than pressure from an evermore money-minded goverment? As license payers, surely the public should get a say...
Dave, Leeds

Pete, this is an interesting feature. I used to be web manager of the top (it won awards) insurance company website so I have a lot of empathy with you. I've always thought BBC News to be a brilliant website for two reasons: I trust what I find there and it lets me read news about what interests me. For opposite reasons, I haven't read a newspaper for 4 years and, with the Internet, don't need to. I have friends and family in several countries around the world so foreign news is valuable. Nothing in the papers about other countries unless there's a train crash, murdered politician, epidemic etc! Not too interested in the world of entertainment - the TV covers that rather a lot. Keep up the good work.
Benny , Brighton, UK

What madness... you should be receiving an extra 15%, rather than having to hack off bits of your site. I rarely watch television but regard your site as a fine use of licence money... has there ever been a time when unbiased globally-accessible news has been more necessary? I hope someone sees the light.
Richard, Newcastle

"Popular, but should we be covering them? You tell me." No You shouldn't! The New York Times, Le Monde and the Guardians websites are all sites I think the BBC could learn from. The BBC is the best site for navigating and accessing things but the content is too tabloid. If I want to find something out quickly I go to BBC site. If I want serious news coverage I go to all the sites mentioned above. That is a travesty for the BBC.
Stuart Wilson, Shepherds Bush, London, UK

An obvious area for economy is the weather forcasts. There are far too many of them, and because they take no accont of altitude they are hopelessly inaccurate. Besides which, anyone with a computer has access to up to the minute world wide weather.
Tim Hodgson, Barva, Heredia, Costa Rica.

What ever happened to the humble paragraph? People are clever enough to read more than one sentence to a line
Henry Alton, Portsmouth
Very interesting column on the workings behind the site, and the decisions in choosing what to plug. One major gripe I have with the site is the breaking down of all grammatical sensibility by using individual sentences. What ever happened to the humble paragraph? People are clever enough to read more than one sentence to a line. As a regular reader of the BBC News site, I would like to suggest the following two improvements: 1. When clicking on an option to expand a thumbnail of an image, the expanded image should be more than twice the size of the rhumbnail, which is usually the case. Hardly rather expanding. 2. On the England sub-page, the headings for the regions should be hyper-links. e.g. London/South, Midlands/East, North, etc. Otherwise I think you do a pretty good job.
Henry Alton, Portsmouth

This concept of personalising News Online is already in working practise to a small degree. Weather enthusiasts are able to personalise their local weather forecast by entering a post-code, which will then be automatically assumed in future when logging onto the BBC home-page. I think this is a great feature and has massive potential. I am mainly interested in technology and football news. If I was given the option to personalise my BBC home-page my visit would be much more efficient and I'm sure this applies to many other people.
Chris McNicholas, Newcastle

I read the science news, but not the sport (except on the rare occasions when England are winning.) But I want to make this choice myself, thank you, and not have it done by an algorithm, an editor, or a censor. There is a risk you will end up telling different things to different people unless you deliberately offer your whole output to everyone.
Michael Gorman, Guildford, Surrey

Good article - thank-you. Is this website fast becoming the most important news source that the BBC produces? It appears to me that this site reaches more people in the world more regularly than any other news source. Having been a late starter compared to CNN on TV satellite news it is good to know that the Beeb is becoming the yardstick by which internet news sites are judged and trusted. I hope that the influence of this site is taken into account when the beancounters are at it.
Simon, London

Your editor's column is the keystone that has raised this site from the spectacular to the unmissable. Keep writing.
Chris Patterson, New York

www.newsnow.co.uk works well for me for special interest subjects. I mostly use it for a football team as it gives all stories across all papers and sites but it can be a bit addictive.
Grant Lee, UK

The BBC news site has achieved a truly global feel
John Cochrane, Frankfurt
In my view, the BBC has managed the transition to online news delivery impeccably. Though an incorrigible traditionalist, I now never let a day go by without surfing the BBC news website in-depth, rather than consult traditional print media or listen to the radio/watch TV. Above all, the BBC news site has achieved a truly global "feel". Any compromise of this service would be a loss to us all. Finally, let me say that I have no need of personalised news services. The site is easily navigable, and I can always find what I am looking for if I want to. But isn't that true of any web-based service? That's the whole point of the medium - it opens up new vistas for personalised information intake. Keep up the good work,
John Cochrane, Frankfurt

BBC News (World edition) on the internet has been my main source of world news for many years. Every day, I check many news sites around the world. I am able to do this because I am retired and closing in on 80 years of age. With out question, BBC News online is the best, most comprehensive news source in the world! On many days, I find important news items there related to events in the US that cannot be found even on the New York Times web site. (They would find this comment hard to believe, but it is true.) Having said this, may I tell you that I do understand the funding problems that BBC is having and the corresponding need for staff cuts. This problem is evident all over the world except in China. I for one, will miss your unmatched world-news coverage! But, even with the cuts, I'm sure that your news service will remain unmatched!
Vince Bartell, Minnesota

Well said. Only good can come from a trim down; even the finest of homes have a storage area filled with "must keep" items that languish for years and are never employed. When all is done, you, the stewards of the finest news gathering entity on the planet, will make us proud.
Michael Lappert, Sausalito, California

I hate personalisation, too. I come to the BBC for the British view. There was a time when the BBC website asked where I lived and I quickly found that I had to lie, and say I lived in Britain, otherwise I got the wrong mix of news. I come to the BBC to be educated. I don't want you only to show me the kind of articles I seem to be interested in. Maybe I'm guilty of being curious if a headline has the word breasts in it, but I don't want my personalised BBC website to turn into the Daily Star.
Andy Civil, Ottawa

While I understand the pressure to "personalize" your web page for the users, I personally disagree with it. One of the main reasons BBC is my home page is that I get a broader perspective on what news is actually important in a world context, something I find sadly lacking in most US news sites. They all appear, to me, to be very politically partisan and lacking the very objectivity that defines journalism. I would however like to see an editorial page where the journalists contributing to your stories could do some of their personal analyses of the problems reported in your stories.
Elizabeth Peters, Dallas, Texas

I like the idea of the option for personalisation of the site. I tend to go the same sections 90% of the time anyway and this would really put it all at the end of one mouse click. However, the ability to browse (or should I say 'stumble across') other sections that I wouldn't normally visit is also important. This should not be lost. What a great job you all do!
Oliver Lawal, Herford, Germany

Do not go gently into that dark web night
Adrian Johnson, Smethwick
I am listening to Jo Wiley on Radio 1, writing up my dissertation with my homepage firmly locked on BBC news. I am alarmed that the site my be slimmed - it's one of the new BBC gems for the 50% of us in the UK that do have web access. Do not go gently into that dark web night...
Adrian Johnson, Smethwick

The BBC News page is my home page, it's my main source of world news. I regard it as the definitive news site, as do my friends in Russia. I would be very upset to see it downgraded in any way.
A Buchan, Brixham UK

I disagree with the move to focus on traditional news (World and UK) there are web sites that already cover this in greater detail particularly the World news. I tend to use the BBC as my home page, and use it for in-depth news on subjects that are not covered elsewhere. I particularly value the Business news, and the Technology sections. I hope that they are not lessened to an extent that I am forced to use less appealing sites. I feel that cuts in the online service are completely against the grain of the march of technology which will inevitably move from broadcast to on demand.
John Walker, Camberley

Commiserations in advance to any of your colleagues being made to leave and I hope they find what they're looking for, unless it's something to do with extreme vengeance. This might not be a good idea for future prospects. Please don't stop including some humorous stories. All gloom makes for a depressed reader. Besides, I'm sure I've gained thousands of new readers for you by posting links to these stories in newsgroups. Well, I might have done.
Angela Gilroy, Telford, UK

On your watch you have created the greatest news resource the world has ever known
Leonard Audaer, Bradford, England
I read through at least 10 different news websites a day and despite the large quantity of quality news coverage online there is nothing that even approaches the consistent quality of BBC News Online. When my A Level Politics teacher recommended everyone set it as their homepage most people would have dismissed it but three years on it is still the page I see first and last when using the internet. In my capacities as a debater, a student and a budding politician it is a definitive source of information. You should be very proud Mr Clifton, on your watch you have created the greatest news resource the world has ever known.
Leonard Audaer, Bradford, England

The cuts you have to make are very sad indeed. Features such as 'On this day' are what make the BBC different from the US models such Sky. News is a reactive thing, but to add an historical element gives the news some depth and perhaps stimulates thought rather than simply provides quick information. However, I understand your position - it's not one I would like to be in.
Chris Case, St Helens




 



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