The BBC now offers a range of free online training courses for journalists.

Introduced at the end of June 2003, the online courses have been hugely popular. The BBC style guide, compiled by seasoned BBC journalist John Allen, has been the biggest success with more than 8800 downloads so far. The guide has also been distributed to 6000 BBC journalists.

Allen, who wrote the guide in spring 2003, has 30 years' experience as a journalist working on all major BBC radio networks. He also established audio news for BBC News Online.

Journalists can download a PDF of the hour-long 'BBC style guide', which contains detailed advice on use of language, pronunciation and story-telling.

With the exception of two production safety courses, all online courses are free and open to anyone with internet access. Most users have been students and freelance journalists.

An extension of internal BBC training provision, the corporation decided to extend their training service primarily to support the extensive network of freelancers working in the broadcast industry.

Research conducted by the BBC in 2002 had shown that of the 87,000 freelancers employed in the audio visual industry, the unpredictable nature of the work meant that many freelancers operate on limited budgets and cannot make long-term commitments to training dates.

"The e-learning launch is part of BBC Training and Development's ongoing commitment to help raise standards within the industry," a BBC spokesperson told dotJournalism.

Offering training online means that journalists around the globe can benefit from the resources and experience of the BBC, although the organisation is funded by television licence-payers in the UK.

"The BBC aims to set standards for journalism worldwide. Many of the BBC's freelancers operate worldwide - so the wide availability of the training is a benefit."

"Last year BBC Training & Development delivered 37,943 training days, supported 600 trainees in a variety of schemes and provided 3,706 courses for more than 18,500 people both within and outside the BBC," said a spokesperson.

Details of new online courses will be released in October, including a free guide to BBC editorial policy.

For more information about BBC online training courses, visit the BBC Training web site at:

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