Sunday 6 January 2019

Trouble at t'mill

This year's Correspondents Look Ahead on Radio 4 lacked its long-term host Owen Bennett-Jones.

I've always liked OB-J, and was going to joke that his eternal prophecy about Imran Khan becoming PM of Pakistan, made year in and year out, actually came true last year, but unfortunately the freelance BBC World Service host didn't get the gig this time. 

I wonder whether that was in any way connected to the coruscating piece he wrote for the London Review of Books just before Christmas, in which he delivered elegant punch after elegant punch to the BBC's solar plexus and left it reeling.  

It's a remarkable read, and I'll post a few extracts from it over the next few posts. 

This is whistleblowing at its finest. (Ignore the fact that he's obviously a typical BBC Remainer).

It obviously didn't go down well with the BBC as below the LRB article there's a snarky right-to-reply comment from Jamie Angus, Director of the BBC World Service, which goes so far as to say that Owen "should have known better" and to damn his "careless remarks" for endangering BBC journalists, provoking an aggrieved OB-J to reply:
To suggest that my citing publicly available and widely discussed information about the BBC’s relationship with the state puts staff at physical risk is ridiculous – a flailing attempt to sidestep scrutiny. 
 Time to renew my subscription to the leftist London Review of Books.


  1. I don't really rate these guys who wait till they are near retirement (or after they've been told they haven't got the gig) before they lay into the BBC.

  2. I take your point MB, but it does provide us with some fascinating insights into the way the BBC operates.

    1. True! I'm not looking a gift horse in the mouth!

  3. Jamie Angus write the FOI exemption paragraph personally?

    BBC Directors are an interesting breed.

  4. Has their ever been an organisation that is as self-regarding as the BBC? I took a cursory glance at the BBC News website today and the first thing that struck me was not actually the bias, but just how much of their output is little more than trivia. Not that there isn’t bias in the trivia, but this is from an organisation that claims to be a serious news provider, tasked with the noble ambition of informing and educating the public. Yet half of their so-called news stories would not be out of place on “The One Show”.

  5. On looking into the piece about the World Service (which they have indeed ruined) and the author, Chris Moore, I discover that he has written a few books railing against BBC management and bureaucracy, including one about the egregious Greg Dyke.

    "Another new boss has grey hair, a leather jacket and funky spectacles. ‘Call me Phil,’ he says, getting us off to a flying start.’ Phil wants ‘to aim for a much warmer sound, something with a more modern texture, news that’s a lot more user-friendly.’ Moore hates him on sight. Too busy working to show ‘leadership’ skills, he is sent on endless leadership courses. One of them he calls ‘death by flipchart’. Back at the office, he writes critical comments in the log designed expressly for this purpose and is informed that this is a ‘career-limiting move’."
    "Moore and a colleague listen to him [Dyke] being interviewed on radio, effing and blinding before going live. Not that he was cross or anything; he’s just a sweary kind of guy.‘“You know, Chris,” says the producer, taking the cans [headphones] from his ears with a perplexed look, “I really think Dyke is a bit thick . . . How the **** can they let a man who talks like that become Director-General, for ****’s sake?”’"
    "One day, Moore is summoned to a meeting with Human Resources.‘“It suggests here,” says Pam, “that your priority areas for development might include ‘collaborating across boundaries’ and ‘using external thinking.”‘She peeks at me through her mascara.‘“How does that resonate with you?” ’It doesn’t, of course....' "


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