The BBC didn’t edit the headline of a Scottish newspaper

11 May 2021
What was claimed

The BBC altered the headline on the front page of a Scottish newspaper.

Our verdict

False. The Herald changed its front page headline. The BBC first reported the original headline and later reported the changed headline.

People on social media have suggested the BBC deliberately altered the headline on the front page of the Herald newspaper from “Landslide” to “Split Decision” for a story about the Scottish parliamentary election results.

It’s not the case that the BBC altered the headline. Instead, it appears as if the Herald front page originally had the headline “Split Decision” which was sent to the BBC and included in its Scottish newspaper review.

The paper then changed the headline to “Landslide” which was reported in the BBC’s UK-wide newspaper review.

On Twitter the Herald’s deputy editor acknowledged the change saying: “‘Split decision’ was a pun to signify the potential split from the union, not the vote itself - but such a pun can perhaps be too ambiguous.”

Many newspapers publish a number of editions of each issue. This allows for breaking news to be included in later editions. 

It’s unclear whether the “Split Decision” front page was actually printed as an early edition, or made available in a digital format, or was only shared with the BBC prior to being changed.

We have asked the Herald for more details and will update this article if it replies.

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