Friday 20 October 2017

BBC star Clare Balding slammed for 'nicking' journalist's byline

Clare Balding hosts the BBC coverage during Day Four of the UCI Track Cycling World Championships at Lee Valley Velopark Velodrome on March 5, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
Clare Balding hosts the BBC coverage during Day Four of the UCI Track Cycling World Championships at Lee Valley Velopark Velodrome on March 5, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

BBC broadcaster Clare Balding has been criticised for "nicking" a journalist's byline.

In a piece for The Guardian, journalist Ginny Dougary detailed how Balding was given copy control over an interview they had conducted for Saga magazine.

"In our interview, Balding talked about how much she loves the corporation [the BBC]," wrote Ms Dougary.

"But the BBC’s badge of honour – its most cherished tenet – is editorial independence: how could one of its most recognised female broadcasters think it is acceptable to demand not only to see an article about her before publication, but then to change the words – making it look as though they were said in the interview and recorded by the journalist?"

Balding, who was promoting her new book in the article, is said to have altered the interview to include "a few quotes about football" and "a shameless puff for her own book."

Ms Dougary wrote: "Had we reached a new low where interview subjects could write their own copy masquerading as that of an independent journalist? What had Balding inserted?

"A paragraph or two about her hosting the women’s European football championships in the summer and then… a shameless puff for her own book: 'It’s why I wanted to have a female heroine in my book who is not afraid to take on the establishment and is also a team player. The response I received from readers and their parents has been so positive – most of whom say that it’s rare to find a sporty, strong heroine – with short hair.'"

Ms Dougary subsequently requested for her byline to be removed from the piece.

"How would Balding like it if – unbeknown to her – one of her broadcasts had some new words dubbed in, written by someone else, and under her name?

"At a time when journalism is under siege everywhere – when fake news sites are on the rise and online newspapers just help themselves to journalists’ articles and present them as their own – it is more important than ever for those of us who are still writing to stand up for the values that attracted us to the profession in the first place."

Ms Balding is yet to comment on Dougary's claims.

When contacted by Independent.ie, a representative for Saga said: "Saga Magazine edited the interview with Clare with the full involvement of the writer, who suggested we add lines ourselves. It was the editor's view that the original article did not cover the wide range of issues that Clare holds dear. The writer is mistaken in thinking that copy approval was given. It was not.

"Saga Magazine does not offer copy control, and interviews that require it are declined. In this case, quotes were checked for accuracy alone. New quotes were sourced to rebalance the article against deadline.

"It is the editor's decision alone to edit an article that is not exactly right for the magazine and Saga Magazine does not defer that decision to PRs or interviewees."

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