Tuesday, March 9, 2010

From the vault - The Sir Geldof saga...does the ABC learn from its mistakes?

Updated 21 April-reply received from ABC-see outcome

ABC NEWS WATCH is quite sure it heard use of the name "Sir" Bob Geldof in a news report on ABC Radio National Breakfast at around 8.00 am on Monday 8/3/2010 (NSW). Use of the title "Sir" for Bob Geldof is of course incorrect as the ABC is aware. 
This post started off "From the vault" but this is one factual error that won't go away.

ABC Classic FM - News 16 September 2005
The complaint
A listener objected to the use of the honorary title “Sir” in relation to Bob Geldof in a news report. He pointed out that Mr Geldof has an honorary knighthood, which does not entitle him to the use of the title “Sir”.

Finding: The ABC acknowledged the error.

Nothing has changed since this complaint was upheld. Geldof is entitled to use the post-nominal letters "KBE", but as he is not a citizen of a Commonwealth realm, he is precluded from using the title "Sir" (from wikipedia). 

Sir Bob Geldof 8/3/2010 ABC News report Radio National 8.00 am
Sir Geldof 20/9/2009 http://www.abc.net.au/compass/s2680053.htm
Sir Geldof 6/5/2009 http://www.abc.net.au/tv/guide/netw/200905/programs/ZY5705A002D6052009T140000.htm
Sir Geldof 2/4/2009 http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/04/02/2533750.htm
Sir Geldof 19/11/2007 http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/11/19/2094738.htm
Sir Geldof 19/11/2007 http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/11/19/2095123.htm
Sir Geldof 16/5/2007 http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/05/16/1924110.htm

THE COMPLAINT: Factual error. Can ABC conduct a global search and replace of its archive to correct these numerous errors, and perhaps flag future uses of Bob Geldof's name to ensure the same mistake isn't repeated.
OUTCOME: I am advised by ABC News that they recognise that Bob Geldof is not officially ‘Sir Bob’, however, the use of ‘Sir Bob’ has become common across the media, almost as a nickname. ABC News has reminded staff that ‘Sir Bob Geldof’ is not officially correct, but they accept that stories and programs will occasionally use ‘Sir’ and most audience members would be familiar with this usage.   ABC News have changed a few recent cases online from ‘Sir Bob Geldof’ to ‘Bob Geldof’, but the division does not plan to go back and change all online references as you suggest.

On review, and while noting your point that Audience and Consumer Affairs upheld a complaint on this issue some five years ago, on further consideration we are satisfied that the approach by ABC News is not in contravention of ABC editorial standards for accuracy.  We do not believe that the overall accuracy of the stories is compromised by using the title “Sir” in relation to Bob Geldof.

Nonetheless, please be assured that your comments are noted and have been raised with ABC News management.

Yours sincerely
Audience & Consumer Affairs

We have passed the matter on to the Complaints review executive-see HERE.

"From the Vault" - digging up past corrections and clarifications from the ABC archives (and sometimes re-living them again and again and again.)

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