Friday, February 23, 2007

And in a BBC News Exclusive Tonight...

At the RTS Awards for news programmes the BBC only won one award. ITN won seven and Channel 4 won five. Peter Horrocks, the Head of News at the BBC has hit the roof and ordered News 24 editor Simon Waldman to send an email to all BBC news journalists.
"Peter H [Horrocks] led a discussion in the wake of what he called 'one of
the grimmest nights in terms of BBC TV News performance' at the RTS. As you
know, TV News won NOTHING - apart from the admirable Darren Conway winning
cameraman of the year (again)."

Horrocks reckons the BBC should "concentrate on uncovering exclusives" which "challenge those in power". This is a very revealing quote. Surely the role of BBC News is to report the news, rather than create it. Surely it is the role of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition to challenge those in power, rather than BBC journalists. BBC journalists are there to report the news in the most impartial manner possible. That's not to say that no BBC journalist should report on matters unfavourable to those who wield power, but the story has to warrant it.

We need fewer hyped up reports which start with the words "the BBC has learned". This sentence is used to create the impression that a journalist has been burrowing away to discover information which someone has tried to keep from them. Sometimes that is indeed the case, but it often means that they have either picked up some good gossip which is worth a punt, or they have been leaked some information by someone with an agenda. You'll see the same thing on the front page of The Times most days.

So when you hear criticism of bloggers for revelling in gossip and unsubstantiated fact, just think to yourself what methods mainstream journalists are using to collect their information. They're little different. But if a blogger wishes to express and opinion and "challenge those in power" that is all well and good. But it's not the role of the taxpayer funded BBC News department. Its role is to report on facts and events.

25 comments:

Matt Davis said...

Sorry this is off topic but on the subject of Britain and America anyone who could do with a good belly laugh should check out:
http://britishreparations.org/index.php
(Hat Tip to Harry's Place)

Anonymous said...

Surely 'the BBC has learnt'..?

Anonymous said...

Anyone know how Horrocks got on at the ICA with Robin Oakley ??

Anonymous said...

Well said, Iain.

They won't take any notice, of course, whatever you say.

Anonymous said...

The Today Programme and Newsnight do a better job of calling Ministers to account than the infantile points-scoring contest of parliamentary question time; and the Opposition is very grateful when it persuades the BBC to run with exposees it has unearthed on the Government.

dearieme said...

Och, Iain, you miss the point. They will rev up to "challenge power" because they expect that soon it'll be the Tories in power.

Dave Bartlett said...

The Guardian have a great sour grapes email from BBC News Kevin Bakhurst. The party line is that it was all a rotton swizz and the BBC News was bestest really. :-)

Trumpeter Lanfried said...

First Downing Street is furious (with Commander Yates). Then the BBC is furious (because it didn't win some incestuous award). There seems to be a lot of impotent rage bubbling over from the cauldrons of the great and the good. Perhaps it could be bottled.

Raedwald said...

The BBC News has lost its capacity of intellectual analysis. When you 'dumb down' news reporting to make it more accessible, the inevitable consequence is that those reporting it lost the capacity and resources to do so with any degree of meaning or insight.

These days when the BBC studio anchor asks "..and what does that mean?" more often than not the lightweight on the other end of the report has little idea.

Seeking to go even further down the dumbing down route by 'making' the news as is suggested will surely signal the demise of this news organisation. Sack the specious pygmies that currently manage BBC news and bring back depth, authority and, dare I say it, the wisdom that comes with age.

bt said...

Can't think that there's much special about ITN or Channel 4, come to that, though Sue Turton (and Kirsty Young on Channel 5) is, let us say, an interesting fantasy subject. Which is more than you can say for Nick Robinson.

And worse - much worse - than "the BBC has learned" is "research shows..." especially since all too often there hasn't been any real research, just a few sociologists/behavioural psychologists eager to justify their grants by ramping some theory or other.

We're badly served by the news media in the UK, not enough news and too much opinion, and that from 'reporters' who usually don't bother looking much deeper into a subject than the latest press release.

Maybe the lack of prizes is an indication that the beeb agenda (pro-EU, Nulab, multiculturalism, big-spending statism; anti- tory, USA, royalty etc) is losing its appeal. Won't make much difference though, they'll still carry on flogging the same old dead horses.

Glad my TV gets thrown out on Wednesday. Yippee! No more TV tax for the beeb to squander from me.

Alan said...

Iain,

While we are at it, where does this sort of "news" come from : Tony Blair in a speech later today will say blah blah - is prescience part of the BBC's remit as well ?

Alan Douglas

judith said...

BBC TV News, when I occasionally watch it, is trite, tripe and condescending.

Peter said...

I dont think that BBC News has got over Hutton, that must have been a big blow to their confidence and professional integrity.

jailhouselawyer said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Dale, you can't have it both ways.

Most of the time you are slagging off the Beeb for not haranguing those in power and bringing them to account.

Only recently you were sending your missiles [deservedly] at Mogadon Marr.

You can't have it both ways..

Dave Bartlett said...

Apparantly Horrocks was representing the BBC in the ICA hosted debate "Is the BBC institutionally biased" on Thursday night. Does anyone know how that went?

Anonymous said...

dave bartlett - there is an update, by horrocks on the BBC 'editors' blog.

But I don't have an 'independent' view of how it went. Although Horrocks does concede a couple of points to Aitken - principally over their coverage of european migration.

javelin said...

I can think of at least one shallow labour loving political journalist who hould be sacked and made an example of - OK, you twisted my arm it's Nick Robinson. He knows much more than he lets on, but fear and brown nosing makes him a bad journalist.

You can also sack some of the smug women news anchors who are busy pushing their own adgenda. Fiona Bruce turned to [the ever professional] Dermott this morning and said "women should get equal pay in tennis ... Shouldn't they" - Well thanks for your personal opinion Fiona, my opinion is you should sacked for (1) bullying a fellow presenter on air and (2) expressing your own opinion when you should be reading the news.

Andrew (no wit) Marr should also get sacked for following the NL agenda too closely.

Horrocks needs to start flexing his muscles and sacking a few journalists, before he is sacked. There are too many journalists at the BBC expressing their own views instead of expressing the news. Things have just got out of control underneath him.

javelin said...

This is the email

As you'll know, unfortunately we didn't win RTS News Channel of the Year last night. As you will also see, the BBC did pretty badly across the board and this reflects the kind of attitude towards the BBC that quite a few of us experienced on the juries from other broadcasters.

I would like to thank you all for the way you have reacted to this, particularly since like me I'm sure you feel it isn't a realistic reflection of the channel's performance over the last 12 months. I have had messages from quite a few more impartial observers who are pretty gob-smacked!

I spent a fair amount of time talking to the Sky News team at the dinner last night and they are very open
about the damage that the Freeview decision could have on them. Many of them are very upset also about the way they have been treated by BSkyB: James Murdoch is visiting them today to try to explain the decision. And quite a few senior and prominent people there are still interested in coming here!

Thanks again - and onto the next awards etc...
KB

Kevin Bakhurst
Controller, BBC News 24

Anonymous said...

bt said - I am a tad concerned that you think that by chucking out the TV you will not have to pay the Telly Licence ? If you have broadband and a a laptop you can look at the telly via that - so you will still be liable for the TV licence.

dave Bartlett said...

Thanks for the tip Anon. As you say Horrocks gives zero details, I like to think that means Aitken made his case. Touchingly Horrocks describes Aitken's Can we trust the BBC as "a stimulating book", yet a search of bbc.co.uk shows no mention, other than a link to the Mail on Sunday, must be planning an hour long special

bt said...

anon 11:32 -

Won't get nobbled that way - I don't have a lap-top and my computer (not the latest model by any means) doesn't have a TV card or software for receiving live broadcasts.

And yes, the video recorder and DVD recorder are going too.

lost said...

I was at the ICA debate on Thursday and Horrocks was more emollient than I expected.

Report here: http://staticsquid.blogspot.com/2007/02/is-bbc-biased-robin-aitken-former-bbc.html

jafo said...

I rarely watch BBC TV evening news bulletins these days because you can't trust what they say. Far too much Government propaganda and no news. Far too much "the BBC has learned" about something you've read in the newspapers that very day! Nick Robinson used to be excellent when he worked for ITV news, now he's just a NuLab puppet.

Slightly off-topic, but still illustrates the point, yesterday lunch-time on Radio 4's "Feedback" a listener complained that on a particular day, BBC R4 news, for most of the morning, had as the lead story the extension of the congestion charge area in London. The second story was of the train bombing on the India/Pakistan border which killed a large number of people. The listener felt the BBC priorities were somewhat skewed here, clearly the bombing should have been the first story and the congestion charge extension a long way down the bulletin.

The BBC News boss was wheeled out to explain. Guess what - they were right and everyone else was wrong. The charge extension was apparently of vital interest to British people, even though the date has been known for months, and it was hardly "hold the front page" territory. He got quite snotty and irritated at having his judgment queried, and obviously didn't like having to explain himself at all. Just could not see the difference between the two news items.

And they're surprised they didn't win any awards............

Trumpeter Lanfried said...

jafo 10.46 AM. At least someone turned up for the Feedback item you heard. Half the time all you get is a message saying the producer of the relevant programme "could not find time" for an interview.

Occasionally someone will drop in, but only ever to explain, in patronising terms, how they "got it right." Their arrogance is breathtaking.