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BBC: change is not an option

2012-11-12 05:38:38

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I've kept out of it largely – not that I don't agree that the BBC is a pile of crud. It just seems to me that the emphasis is on the wrong things, and when the legacy media crows about the "crisis" in BBC journalism, it really needs to take a collective look in the mirror. There is a crisis in journalism generally, afflicting the media as a whole. The BBC's "shoddy journalism" is by no means unique.

A reflection of this is the Mail's story about the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which worked with the BBC to produce the disastrous Newsnight programme which caused so much trouble.

Now- and only now - the Mail tells us, the BIJ was founded in 2009 with a £2 million donation from a charitable foundation run by computer tycoon David Potter, a former Labour donor, and his wife Elaine Potter, a former Sunday Times investigative journalist.

Based out of subsidised offices in London's City University, it is effectively a Labour front, yet it claims to have worked for BBC File On Four, BBC Panorama, BBC Newsnight, Channel4 Dispatches, Channel4 News, The Financial Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Times, Le Monde and numerous others.

Iain Overton, the man in the frame for the "shoddy" work, is the Managing Editor of the Bureau. Prior to this, he was a commissioning executive at ITN and a senior producer at the BBC. His work has been recognized with a Peabody Award, 2 Amnesty International Awards, a OneWorld Award, a Prix Circom, a BAFTA Scotland and 3 RTS nominations.

The Deputy Editor is Rachel Oldroyd, who spent 13 years at the Mail on Sunday, and the Bureau’s lead reporter is Angus Stickler, who has worked primarily for the Today Programme on Radio 4, but has reported across many BBC outlets. Among the staff listed on its website, virtually every segment of the British media is represented, confirming that the rot is set deep within the trade.

But why this is not going to change is illustrated by the Telegraph story which tells us the Patten has approved a £1.32 million severance package for George Entwistle, after 54 days in place as director-general.

This is a society where the élites have abolished the penalties for their own failures. The slime rises to the top, screws up and gets handsomely rewarded for so doing. In the fullness of time, one expects Entwistle to be given a lucrative job on the fringes, to "compensate" him for the indignity of being fired.

As long as the BBC (and the media class generally) are allowed to judge their own standards - gaily giving each other awards - and there are no financial penalties for failure, things will continue as before. We can expect any number of inquires, and much public breast-beating, but nothing significant will change.

Autonomous Mind says there is only one phrase to describe the BBC and its leadership: "hypocritical thieving scum". He's not wrong – but why stop there?