Monday 3 March 2014

Reviewing the press reviewers

It's time to update Is the BBC biased?'s list of the guests BBC Breakfast invites to do its paper reviews on its weekend shows, as there's an extra three-and-a-half months' worth of extra information for you to scrutinise at your leisure:

7/9 Simon Fanshawe, writer
8/9 Ian MacMillan, poet
14/9 David Davies, former FA boss
15/9 Paul Horrocks. former president of the UK Society of Editors
21/9 Cary Cooper, academic
22/9 Kate Williams, historian
28/9 Olly Mann, writer and broadcaster
29/9 Emma B, radio presenter
5/10 Simon Fanshawe, writer
6/10 Ian MacMillan, poet
12/10 Margaret Doyle, Deloitte
13/10 Vicky Beeching, theologian and writer
19/10 Bishop Stephen Lowe, former Bishop of Hulme
20/10 Reverend Richenda Leigh, chaplain, University of Derby
26/10 David Davies, former FA boss
27/10 Juliet Dunlop, journalist and broadcaster
2/11 Simon Fanshawe, writer
3/11 Pete Waterman, music producer
9/11 John Amaechi, psychologist and former basketball player
10/11 Kate Williams, historian
16/11 Paul Horrocks. former president of the UK Society of Editors
17/11 Helen Pidd, Guardian
23/11 Simon Fanshawe, writer
24/11 Ian Collins, broadcaster
30/11 (No review)
1/12 Tessa Dunlop, writer & historian
7/12 Professor Martin Hall, Salford University
8/12 Juliet Dunlop, journalist & broadcaster
14/12 Ian MacMillan, poet and broadcaster
15/12 No review (Mandela)
21/12 Helen Pidd, Guardian
22/12 Pete Waterman, music producer
28/12 Justin Urquhart Stewart, financial commentator
29/12 John Amaechi, psychologist and former basketball player

4/1 Simon Fanshawe, writer
5/1 Juliet Dunlop, journalist & broadcaster
11/1 Reverend Sally Hitchiner, chaplain, Brunel University
12/1 David Davies, former FA boss
18/1 Vicky Beeching, theologian and writer
19/1 The Very Reverend Rogers Govender, Dean of Manchester
25/1 Peter Bradshaw, Guardian
26/1 Dr Carole Mundell, astrophysicist
1/2 Simon Fanshawe, writer
2/2 Ian Collins, radio presenter and political commentator
8/2 Olly Mann, broadcaster and columnist
9/2 Paul Horrocks, former president of the UK Society of Editors
15/2 Justin Urquhart Stewart, financial commentator
16/2 Juliet Dunlop, journalist
22/2 David Davies, former FA boss
23/2 Bishop Stephen Lowe, former Bishop of Hulme
1/3 Simon Fanshawe, writer
2/3 Helen Pidd, Guardian

As before, and for the sake of comparison, here's a list I prepared earlier, so that can can see what's changed - and what hasn't changed - over a longer time-frame:

11 June - David Davies, former FA boss
12 June - Jonathan Oliver, Sunday Times
18 June - Mehdi Hasan, New Statesman
19 June - Chris Adams, FT
25 June - Simon Fanshawe, writer
26 June - Camila Batmanghelidjh, charity leader
2 July - Margaret Doyle, Reuters
3 July - Kevin Maguire, Daily Mirror
9 July - Phil Hall, PR consultant
10 July - Kevin Maguire, Daily Mirror & Vincent Graff, freelance journalist
16 July - Tim Walker, Daily Telegraph 
17 July - Andew Pierce, Daily Mail
23 July - no paper review (because of coverage of the Breivik massacre in Norway)
24 July - Olly Mann, writer
30 July - Simon Fanshawe, writer
31 July - Camila Batmanghelidjh, charity leader
6 August - Margaret Doyle, Reuters
7 August - Kevin Maguire, Daily Mirror 
13 August - Olly Mann, writer
14 August - Vincent Graff, freelance journalist
20 August - Tim Walker, Daily Telegraph 
21 August - Andrew Pierce, Daily Mail
27 August - Peter Bradshaw, Guardian 
28 August - David Davies, former FA boss
3 September - Margaret Doyle, Reuters
4 September - Kevin Maguire, Daily Mirror 
10 September - Simon Fanshawe, writer
11 September - Stryker Mcguire, US journalist
17 September - Olly Mann, writer
18 September - Jonathan Oliver, Sunday Times 
25 September - David Davies, former FA boss
1 October - Vincent Graff, freelance journalist
2 October - Mehdi Hasan, New Statesman
8 October - Simon Fanshawe, writer
9 October - Olly Mann, writer
15 October - Tim Walker, Daily Telegraph
16 October - Michael White, Guardian

I think these lists can tell us a few things about the changes in BBC Breakfast's editorial policy from 2011 to 2014:

(1) That they have made an determined effort to feature more female guests, with the proportion rising from 13.5% in 2011 to 34% in 2013-14.

(2) That they have moved away from using print journalists as reviewers. In 2011, BBC Breakfast invited journalists from The Sunday Times, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Mirror, The Daily Mail, The New Statesman and The FT. By 2013-14, however, there are only a couple of regulars from The Guardian left.

(3) That they have sought out more clerics, broadening out beyond their old staple, Bishop Stephen Lowe, to include lots more reverends, reverends and theologians.

(4) That they've attempted to break away from their old merry-go-round of regular guests by including many new faces among all the cast of regulars, presumably to provide a better balance between the fresh and the familiar. 

The programme's most regular guest is writer and broadcaster Simon Fanshawe, with former FA boss (and ex-BBC man) David Davies coming up behind him in second place.

As regards political bias, the guest-list remains essentially 'safe' and vaguely left-of-centre. The old outright partisans of the Left, Mehdi Hasan and Kevin Maguire, appear to have been dropped for good, though the likes of Simon Fanshawe and Bishop Lowe remain, and the marked dropping away (from 2011 to 2014) of openly right-wing press reviewers seems to have been partially halted by the addition of LBC talk show host Ian Collins. 

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