BBC - North Wiltshire bias?One of the RSS feeds I look at is that of BBC Wiltshire. I love the BBC, but for some time I’ve been increasingly irked because most of the stories seem to me to be about north Wiltshire – specifically about Swindon.

Because I’m a curious fellow, I thought it might be interesting to actually try and work out if this was true.

BBC Wiltshire stories – Swindon 32, Salisbury 6

I’ve taken 100 posts, dating from the 24th of October to the 16th of November and tallied up the locations of each of the stories[1]. This range includes most of the stuff about the PCC election, but it doesn’t cover the recent flooding in Wiltshire. The headline results are as follows.

Swindon – 32
PCC – 14
Bath – 9
Wiltshire – 7
Military – 7
Salisbury – 6
Devizes – 4
Chippenham – 3
Marlborough – 4
Bradford-on-Avon – 2
Melksham – 2
Pewsey – 2
Other – 7

So, there are more than four times as many posts about Swindon as there are about Salisbury. BBC Wiltshire even has more posts about Bath than it does about Salisbury – and Bath isn’t even in Wiltshire!

BBC Wiltshire stories – ignoring the football

No Swindon Town fans

Image from Wikimedia[2]

However, before dashing off a stern letter to the new Director General, the figures need a closer look.

The significant detail is actually pointed up by the inclusion of a figure for Bath.

All the Bath stories aren’t about the town itself, but about the rugby team. BBC Wiltshire is, fairly sensibly, including stories from BBC Sport about local-ish teams in the Wiltshire RSS feed[3].

The stories about ‘Swindon’ are split between those covering the town and those covering the football team. If I separate out stories about Swindon Town FC[4] (and the one story about Salisbury City FC) the list looks like this:

Swindon Town FC – 18
Swindon – 14
PCC – 14
Bath Rugby – 9
Wiltshire – 7
Military – 7
Salisbury – 5
Devizes – 4
Chippenham – 3
Marlborough – 4
Bradford-on-Avon – 2
Melksham – 2
Pewsey – 2
Salisbury City FC – 1
Other – 7

So, there are 14 stories about Swindon and 5 stories about Salisbury. Given that Swindon has a population of 158,000[5] and Salisbury has a population of 39,000[6], Salisbury is slightly over-represented compared to Swindon.

So, the short answer to the question in the title of this post ‘Does BBC Wiltshire have a North Wiltshire bias?’ is on this evidence – No.

100 BBC Wiltshire posts – some thoughts

Having spent a bit of time tallying up the contents of the Wiltshire RSS feed, I did have some thoughts to share:

  • Many of the stories are tragedies of one sort or another. I’m pleased there aren’t dozens of stories about Salisbury

  • The process has emphasized to me that both the Salisbury Journal and Spire FM are very valuable[7]. The BBC Wiltshire feed averaged 2 Salisbury stories per week – both Spire and the Journal cover many more. I don’t think I’d properly appreciated the service provided by the two local organizations in the past

  • In truth, I was expecting that the Swindon/North Wiltshire ‘bias’ was mainly my perception – but I was surprised to see quite how wrong about it I was

BBC Wiltshire – 100 posts analysed

Here’s a slightly fuller summary of the posts:

  • Aldbourne – 2
  • Allington – 1
  • Bath (Rugby) – 9
  • Bradford-on-Avon – 2
  • Bulford – 1
  • Chippenham – 3(1 sport)
  • Devizes – 4
  • Dilton – 2
  • Larkhill – 1
  • Marlborough – 4
  • Melksham – 2
  • PCC – 14
  • Pewsey – 2
  • Salisbury – 6
  • Somerset – 1
  • Stonehenge – 1
  • Sutton Mandeville – 1
  • Swindon – 14
  • Swindon (football) – 18
  • Tedworth House – 1
  • Tidworth – 3
  • Westbury – 1
  • Wiltshire – 7
  • Wootton Bassett – 1

And here, in case you want to see how I’ve classified each and every story (I’d be happy to be corrected on any of these), are all 100 posts on the BBC Wiltshire RSS feed:

Aldbourne

Aldborne BBC News – Wiltshire councillor suspended from Conservative group
Aldborne BBC News – Dalek bin to tackle litter problem in Wiltshire village

Allington

Allington BBC News – Allington reservoir expansion work under way

Bath (Rugby)

Bath BBC Sport – Munster prop Alan Cotter joins Bath on a month’s loan
Bath BBC Sport – Semesa Rokoduguni dedicates Bath debut to fellow soldiers
Bath BBC Sport – LV= Cup: Bath 36-15 Newport Gwent Dragons
Bath BBC Sport – London Welsh 16-9 Bath
Bath BBC News – Bath loses fight to ban lorries from Cleveland Bridge
Bath BBC Sport – Bath hand contract to Army soldier Semesa Rokoduguni
Bath BBC Sport – Bath 23-15 Exeter
Bath BBC News – Fatal drip error nurse suspended from hospital in Bath
Bath BBC Sport – Mako Vunipola of Saracens named in England squad for autumn Tests

Bradford-on-Avon

Bradford-on-Avon BBC News – Teacher hit on charity dance resumes challenge – Bradford-on-Avon
Bradford-on-Avon BBC News – Ban for drink-driver who hit charity dancer Ben Hammond

Bulford

Bulford BBC News – Royal Anglian Regiment receive Afghanistan medals

Chippenham

Chippenham BBC Sport – MotoGP: Danny Kent takes Moto3 win in Valencia
Chippenham BBC News – Post resumes on Chippenham street plagued by fleas
Chippenham BBC News – Mentally impaired people ‘exploited by court-appointed deputies’ – Chippenham

Devizes

Devizes BBC News – Wadworth Brewery jobs transferred away from Wiltshire – Devizes
Devizes BBC News – MP Claire Perry ordered to pay compensation for unfair dismissal
Devizes BBC News – Volunteers sought for Kennet and Avon Canal – Devizes/Marlborough
Devizes BBC News – MP’s anger at Wiltshire ambulance centre closure – Devizes

Dilton

Dilton BBC News – Somerset man who died in Wiltshire car crash is named Dilton Marsh
Dilton BBC News – Somerset man dies in Wiltshire car crash

Larkhill

Larkhill BBC Sport – Heather Stanning, Olympic rowing champion, on returning to the army – Larkhill

Marlborough

Marlborough BBC News – Earl of Cardigan denies Wiltshire theft and damage charges
Marlborough BBC News – Inquiry into Caffè Nero outlet in Wiltshire – Marlborough
Marlborough BBC News – ‘I failed to protect my child from Winterbourne View’ – Marlborough
Marlborough BBC News – Winterbourne View patients in new care safety alerts – Marlborough

Melksham

Melksham BBC News – Cell-push policeman Mark Andrews wins job ruling – Melksham
Melksham BBC News – Timeline: Police Sgt Mark Andrews cell assault case – Melksham

PCC

PCC BBC News – Wiltshire PCC election: Conservative Angus Macpherson wins
PCC BBC News – Police commissioner elections: Voters head to the polls
PCC BBC News – PCC hopeful Paul Batchelor says Tasers ‘undermine trust’
PCC BBC News – Wiltshire PCC: How candidates hope to restore faith
PCC BBC News – Wiltshire PCC election: Colin Skelton critical of PFI deal
PCC BBC News – Wiltshire PCC election: Macpherson would ‘share resources’
PCC BBC News – Wiltshire PCC: Tackling anti-social behaviour
PCC BBC News – Wiltshire PCC election: Short would ask for business help
PCC BBC News – Wiltshire PCC election: Silcocks might sell headquarters
PCC BBC News – Wiltshire PCC: Candidates debate station closure – PCC (Salisbury station)
PCC BBC News – Wiltshire PCC election: Moody to keep party politics out
PCC BBC News – Wiltshire PCC: Lib Dem hopeful to tackle anti-social behaviour
PCC BBC News – Wiltshire PCC poll: Conservative backs legal high ban
PCC BBC News – Wiltshire PCC election: Skelton aims to recruit 300 officers

Pewsey

Pewsey BBC News – ‘Quiet zone’ created on canal through Wiltshire village
Pewsey BBC News – Fraudulent Westminster Council parking charge email sent – Pewsey

Robins

Robins BBC Sport – Swindon v Yeovil
Robins BBC Sport – Nathaniel Mendez-Laing: Portsmouth sign Peterborough winger Swindon (football)
Robins BBC Sport – Chris Martin and Danny Hollands join Swindon Town on loan
Robins BBC Sport – Swindon coach Paul Bodin backs Miles Storey’s potential
Robins BBC Sport – Rotherham sign Swindon Town’s Luke Rooney on loan
Robins BBC Sport – Paolo Di Canio ‘unhappy’ with Swindon chairman comments
Robins BBC Sport – Wes Foderingham: Swindon keeper patient on England call
Robins BBC Sport – Walsall 0-2 Swindon
Robins BBC Sport – Swindon Town’s Tommy Miller set for six-week absence
Robins BBC Sport – Swindon fans’ phone-in with chairman Sir William Patey
Robins BBC Sport – Swindon Town transfer embargo lifted, says Sir William Patey
Robins BBC Sport – Swindon 0-0 Sheffield Utd
Robins BBC Sport – Swindon 0-2 Macclesfield
Robins BBC Sport – Paolo Di Canio: Miles Storey ‘not ready’ for top level
Robins BBC Sport – Swindon 2-3 Aston Villa
Robins BBC Sport – Paolo Di Canio: I am not God, but I am a very good manager
Robins BBC Sport – Stevenage 0-4 Swindon

Salisbury

Salisbury BBC Sport – Exeter City loan Elliott Frear to Salisbury City
Salisbury BBC News – Former PM Sir Edward Heath’s Salisbury home to be sold
Salisbury BBC News – Hope for Salisbury science and engineering school
Salisbury BBC News – Salisbury rape suspects bailed
Salisbury BBC News – A338 into Salisbury closed for rail bridge work
Salisbury BBC News – Four men held over alleged rape in Salisbury

Somerset

Somerset BBC Sport – Speedway: Somerset Rebels beat Ipswich to League Cup

Stonehenge

Stonehenge BBC News – Wiltshire film aims to entice Tube commuters to visit – Stonehenge

Sutton Mandeville

Sutton Madeville BBC News – Ex rugby player Nigel Fox electrocuted at farm, inquest hears – Sutton Mandeville

Swindon

Swindon BBC News – Farepak auditors face disciplinary action
Swindon BBC News – Swindon Christmas market ending puts town ‘back 10 years’
Swindon BBC News – Sex offender John Radley caught after absconding from Swindon trial
Swindon BBC News – Oasis Leisure Centre revamp plans go on show
Swindon BBC News – Becky Godden’s mother starts petition to change law
Swindon BBC News – Cornish sleeper train introduces duvets – GWR
Swindon BBC News – Train services between Swindon and Bristol restored after landslip
Swindon BBC News – Landslip disrupts train services between Swindon and Bristol
Robins BBC Sport – Paolo Di Canio says Danny Wilson row is ‘in the past’
Swindon BBC News – Swindon’s night club Suju’s ‘crime scene’ tape criticised
Swindon BBC News – Joe Compton back home after lightning strike
Swindon BBC News – Woman admits making up attempted rape in Swindon
Swindon BBC News – England cities to be offered more control over budgets – Swindon (and Wiltshire)
Swindon BBC News – Wiltshire pupils warned of anorexia health risks – Swindon

Tedworth House

Tedworth BBC News – Endeavour Fund supports Race2Recovery Dakar Rally challenge – Tedworth House

Tidworth

Tidworth BBC News – 19th Regiment Royal Artillery receive Afghan war medals
Tidworth BBC News – Soldiers receive service medals at Tidworth Barracks
Tidworth BBC News – Stolen Tidworth memorial to be reinstated for Armistice Day

Westbury

Westbury BBC News – Westbury pub taken over by Aldi ‘should have been protected’

Wiltshire

Wiltshire BBC News – Wiltshire winter fuel payments given away to vulnerable
Wiltshire BBC News – Superfast broadband: BT preferred supplier in counties
Wiltshire BBC News – Remembrance Sunday: Thousands honour war dead in west of England
Wiltshire BBC News – Wiltshire Council pledges £61m in housing improvements
Wiltshire BBC News – Website lists Wiltshire’s World War I servicemen
Wiltshire BBC News – Golden postboxes to keep their sheen to honour British athletes
Wiltshire BBC News – Funeral for Sgt Gareth Thursby killed in Afghanistan

Wootton Bassett

Wootton Bassett BBC News – Royal Wootton Bassett lays wreath honouring repatriations

Footnotes

  1. I’m sure I’ve made multiple mistakes in doing so and I’d be happy to be corrected, but hopefully the totals are broadly correct []
  2. Photo by Steve Daniels [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons. I added the crossing out []
  3. I think you could argue there are as many Wiltshire people interested in Southampton football as there are interested in Bath rugby, but that’s possibly another discussion []
  4. There is another discussion to be had about whether so much of the BBC’s resources should be spent covering Swindon FC. There are a couple of things to say about this:

    • As mentioned above, my guess is that Swindon FC coverage is funded from a sports budget rather than a BBC Wiltshire budgetet – this is just a guess but I wouldn’t expect that at a low level stories about, say, John Glen are being sacrificed for stories about Paolo di Canio
    • Swindon Town news is consumed by both fans of Swindon Town, and by supporters of other teams in their division. I’m lucky enough to support Chelsea, but I look at news stories about other teams too. If Chelsea drew Swindon in the FA Cup I’d want to know about Swindon.
    • Swindon Town are in a higher division than Salisbury City, they have a bigger following and a more high-profile manager. It’s inevitable that they will be covered more than the Whites. It seems a little skewed that there’s just one Salisbury FC story, but I’m not sure this is a bad thing. Less coverage on the BBC perhaps increases the traffic to Salisbury City’s website. As I say, I’m not sure on this point

    []

  5. WILTSHIRE AND SWINDON STRUCTURE PLAN 2016,Swindon Borough Council and Wiltshire County Council []
  6. Wiltshire Tourism – Salisbury []
  7. Your Valley News is also a great resource, although not on the same scale as the Journal and Spire FM []

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