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Where does Web 2.0 leave the BBC?

'You're listening to CB Radio 2.0'

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British Venting Corporation?

But given all the blogs and Web 2.0 innovations that the BBC are so conscious of - and so powerless to do anything about - why does the BBC feel that it has to provide further space for this cacophony of opinion-giving? There are more places than ever for people to go to let off steam and vent opinion.

Granted, the BBC should not be promoting left-liberal causes such as Make Poverty History (one of the complaints in the new report). But the solution needn’t lie in simply giving an equal amount of space to a right wing campaign in return. Surely the BBC’s most valuable role lies in sticking to its Enlightenment guns, presenting us with facts and information, then being judged on the professionalism of its journalism. Bloggers and amateur reporters actually benefit from credible shared reference points.

To be fair to it, the report is not so enamoured with "citizen journalism" as to ignore the value of training and traditional journalistic rigour. But waters are being muddied here. Where does the citizen journalist end and the professional one begin?

With ever more specialist correspondents such as John Simpson (many of whom are also vain enough to engage in political punditry and publishing of autobiographies), how can we know where their slant begins and ends? And as far as the BBC’s internet services are concerned, exactly how moderated is "unmoderated"?

The BBC is to be commended for facing up to the dilemma. Its new document suggests that it is hoping to steer a path down the middle, between dull scientific objectivity on one side and cacophonous democratic opinion-airing on the other. But if it is successful in doing this, it may then be credited with the more dubious feat of having brought the two approaches closer together. ®

William Davies is a sociologist and policy analyst. His weblog is at Potlatch

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