Friday 27 June 2014

Get Hewlett

One of the Guardian's media writers, Steve Hewlett, is now the BBC's go-to-man for media-related stories. 

This isn't exactly news. After all, he'd already become a BBC regular as regards media-related stories even before they invited him to present Radio 4's The Media Show

Since then he's frankly verged on the ubiquitous (on the BBC) whenever any major media story breaks - whether it be the Newsnight scandals, the phone hacking trials, the Patten-Thompson row, you name it. 

Now, I don't think he does a bad job by any means but the BBC's over-reliance on his opinions surely isn't helpful. One voice should not be so dominant, however reasonable-sounding that voice may be.  

This thought struck me again after this morning's Farming Today covered the BBC Trust's newly-released report on the BBC's coverage of rural affairs (discussed on an earlier post). 

There are any number of people Farming Today could have contacted to discuss this report but, no, they chose to do what Radio 4 as a whole tends to do on such occasions - ring for Steve Hewlett. 

Even though I now pretty much take Steve Hewlett's ubiquity for granted, even I was taken aback by this. Couldn't they have put just a few seconds of thought into thinking of someone other than Steve Hewlett to provide their 'expert' commentary on the report? Well, obviously not and, as a result, BBC listeners were again presented with Steve Hewlett's 'authoritative take' on a media-related story - and only Steve Hewlett's take.

This isn't a criticism of Steve Hewlett. It's a criticism of a mindset all too common at the BBC, a mindset that often results in predictable reflex-actions - such as speed-dialing Steve Hewlett whenever a BBC Trust report comes out. 

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