Saturday 6 June 2015

The BBC blows its own trumpet

This week's Newswatch - thankfully back to business as usual with Samira Ahmed - discussed the BBC's heavy coverage of the FIFA story. 

The biggest objection from Newswatch complainants concerned the corporation's decision to lead its BBC One bulletins on Tuesday with the resignation of Sepp Blatter ahead of the death of Charles Kennedy. 

One e-mailer wrote: 
Anyone with an ounce of common sense has been aware of corruption in FIFA for years. The BBC has dragged out this story for days, and whilst Sepp Blatter's resignation was unexpected on this day, I do object to this foreign failed leader of a global corrupt organisation being more important than the life of one of Britain's most prominent, honest politicians - it's just a complete lack of respect for the man and the viewers.
That reminded me of last week's Broadcasting House from the Hay Festival, one of whose main topics was:"Stop banging on about FIFA" (as some members of the audience had apparently told Paddy O'Connell). As the programme approached its midway point, Paddy said:
So that's classic for our programme, isn't it? To ask the question, "Is there too much coverage about FIFA and then devote 20 minutes to it." Having your FIFA and eating it too.
My pet theory as to why the BBC has been devoting so much attention to the FIFA story is that it's just so rare for the BBC these days to hit home with a major piece of investigative journalism that they are trumpeting it for all it's worth - even if it risks boring its viewers half to death. 

When you think of all the major stories of recent investigative journalism in the UK - from the The Daily Telegraph's breaking of the MPs' expenses scandal, The Times's work at exposing the Muslim grooming scandal in Rotherham, Andrew Gilligan's work on exposing the Trojan Horse affair, the Guardian's Wikileaks revelations, etc - it's the press that broke them and did all the hard slog on them. The BBC usually lagged well behind.

The BBC's heavy FIFA coverage may be a case of the corporation making the most of a rare opportunity to crow about its investigative journalism - especially given its highly damaging (yet contrasting) failures over Savile and Lord MacAlpine. 

A related complaint about the BBC's habit of  pleasuring itself over its investigative 'scoops' turned up later on  this week's Newswatch. 

The decision to lead the BBC's News at Six with an extended plug for a Panorama special later that night hadn't gone down too well with some viewers. They felt the story (concerning doping allegations made a former athlete against a current athlete's coach) didn't warrant the attention it was given. 

One e-mailer wrote:
Rather bemused by the editorial decision to lead the 6.00 pm news tonight with an eight minute trailer for a Panorama programme. Please report news, rather than acting as pseudo-investigative teams bringing items to the screen that must be certain editors' pet projects.
The solution to that viewer's bemusement is probably the same as the FIFA one: it's the BBC blowing its own cornet at whatever crumb of investigative journalism it can claim as its own.


  1. Not much from the BBC about the personal abuse Charles Kennedy received from SNP activists leading up to the General Election and even after his death. Maybe the BBC will investigate the inactivity of the Scottish Police concerning the behaviour of some SNP activists. Ha ! Ha !

  2. Like the dog that barked, these self-adulation outings simply highlight the many occasions BBC investigative powers are lagging, or lacking

  3. Have to admit they lost me at 'An obituary is a factual, fair and balanced...'.

    This the BBC.

    Hence how they set Newswatch up. Who and what gets featured for our pro 'ObitEd' to sound like the consummate, independent integrity-packed pro.

    So we are served a series of numpties who think a young senior pol popping off need not mention why this might have happened. Of course the BBC was right, and with all else related... er... let's not go there.

    Everything is designed to frame the reaction. Like the Madge tweets.

    We're left with a few 'calls for a very junior head', which most would resist, and zero on the bigger story of the mismatch in BBC reaction up the greasy pole.

    There's going to be an investigation, eh? No, really? Nick Pollard dug up to forget a few crucial folk? Again?

    And that's that. Do write in and if it suits they may edit it to suit. Or out if it doesn't.

    Interesting that Mighty Mo is peeved on the doping being mentioned as it is killing him. See how the BBC rearranges that one, like the HIGNFY 'homage' to Charles Kennedy that played up his good bits and quietly sidelined when they and his own party has been less than supportive.


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