Bad form, BBC, re the bloggers

The ShinyShiny Media (ta, Katherine) team are justifiably annoyed at the BBC Panorama team using them and then ignoring their existence in creating their programme about child exploitation in the production of Primark clothes:

Yet while the programme highlighted low pay and child labour the programme makers seemed to have no ethical qualms about screwing British journalists.

Researchers from Panorama contacted the Catwalk Queen team (btw Catwalk Queen is the UK’s most-read pure fashion website – compare it with Vogue, Cosmo and the others etc on Google Trends) and asked if they could film the team talking about why and how Primark had become so popular in the UK. The Panorama team then spent three hours filming at shiny offices, which basically cost Shiny nine hours worth of blogging.

The team’s opinions were widely used throughout the show and in many ways their views held the piece together. However while every other single person on the show received a credit along with their work title (Mary Portas got a plug for her business, Yellowdoor, twice), the Catwalk team were not credited in any way. Instead only their names were used and they were billed as fashionistas or Primark fans.

Even worse, while the SS team’s videos of the opening of a Primark store were opened, they were credited to “YouTube”. Oooh yes, YouTube. It creates lots of stuff.

Certainly this tendency to think that because people blog they’re (a) happy to get any exposure (b) not that important except as a source of opinion is one that’s taking some time to permeate through the many, many layers of conventional news organisations.

Then again, the instinct in many news organisations is not to give anyone credit for any piece of information if you can make the pretence that you somehow got it yourself. I think that one will take a long time to die. And it’s also news organisation tradition not to acknowledge people who might be your competition – or are your competition – unless you really have to. Which may go some way to explaining it.

Update: Neil doesn’t like the Beeb on it much either. Though I’d point out: the BBC is emphatically not taxpayer-funded. (It’s one of the reasons we haven’t drawn it in to the Free Our Data campaign. You can choose not to have a TV, in which case you’ll pay no licence fee, yet get the radio and internet stuff for free. Which is very different from, say, getting data out of Ordnance Survey.


  1. To defend the BBC, it filmed on the sofa at Shiny’s offices which are designed to look like a blogger’s front room. It would have looked odd to slap a company name ontop of what viewers were meant to think were bloggers having a conversation in a real front room. Given the zillions of bloggers who do write from their front room and upload videos onto YouTube from their bedroom, why the BBC chose the only fake front room to film in would be my question.

  2. hi Charles – I use the word tax deliberately, as the Corporation gets most of its funds directly from a tax of the same type as, say, road tax, intended to fund a specific purpose. While you could, as you say, look at web pages or listen to BBC radio without a license, the moment you, say, use your computer’s DVD drive to watch a movie, or iPlayer to watch a TV programme, or Torrent an old episode of West Wing, or watch a television programme on your mobile phone, you should be paying. And, of course, in practice those who try to live without a TV – and the license fee – often face constant harassment from the collection agency. So while the government does not allocate funds to it as it does with most other government departments, the BBC is taxpayer funded, in that it is funded by payers of a tax. (Note that I’m not necessarily anti this – it’s great value. But I think we should be clear what it is, nonetheless).

  3. As an ex Shiny Media blogger I was excited to see Gemma et al on screen, I was moved by the programme but from watching it wasn’t aware that the blogging team were so key, as outlined here. Instead, I got the impression that the researchers must have thought ‘I’ll get someone young, hip and trendy to comment’

    Reading the story from behind the scenes saddens me. According to an opinion piece by a senior NUJ figure in this month’s Journalist, bloggers are a rowdy bunch, and journalists can apparently blog as a ‘shop window’ – it seems a shame to me that the BBC can trivialise the professionalism of the Shiny team and that people within the journalists’ union can make such general brushstrokes based on a lack of knowledge about blogging.

  4. Sorry to be so irritatingly pedantic Charles, but the company is Shiny Media. Shiny Shiny is one of the tech sites it publishes.

    It was shocking to be honest, being in the office and having the Panorama team film for three hours straight, then seeing the finished result on Monday night. Disappointing as well, that Gemma, Isabelle and Abi didn’t get the recognition for Catwalk Queen that they deserve.

  5. As MD of Shiny, it is incredibly frustrating to give staff time (and hence money) to an organisation that never gives anything back, especialy when we are all paying for it via the licence fee anyway. And I don’t understand the first point about the BBC not crediting the bloggers because they were sitting on a sofa in the Shiny office. Does that mean that if we filmed BBC journalists or broadcasters in an informal studio environment we wouldn’t have to credit or pay them. I think the implication here is that bloggers are somehow all amateurs who work out of their bedrooms when in fact our staff are, like those of the BBC, highly trained, knowledgeable individuals with valuable skills working in an expensive west end office!!

  6. Is Katherine Hannaford serious? How long before a parody of Katherine watching Panorama and reacting with shock at the treatment of bloggers not child labourers makes it onto YouTube?

  7. I know how you are this great champion of copyright and thought you may like this

  8. Neil – actually, watching DVDs, iPlayer, or any BBC programmes that are not currently being broadcase does not require a TV license.

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