Sunday 16 February 2020

A baker's dozen

This won't come as a surprise to us, but The Mail on Sunday has carried out an "analysis" of the BBC's coverage of the Democratic Party primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire and found that 13 BBC correspondents covered them.

The paper's headline is: What cuts? The BBC has THIRTEEN reporters covering the US election trail... while back home, it's axing up to 450 jobs in £80m savings drive

The MoS points out that Emily Maitlis "jetted across the Atlantic at considerable expense" for a couple of Newsnights, despite the programme already having a US correspondent (David Grossman) involved in the coverage.

They also point out that Christian Fraser "flew out from London to join his Washington-based co-host Katty Kay in Iowa" for Beyond 100 Days.

The BBC, of course, says there's nothing wrong with this ridiculous wastefulness, adopting the 'it's not as bad as usual' defence:
The BBC has a huge amount of output across our news channels, bulletins, radio, online programming and podcasts. This election is being primarily covered by our US-based team… meaning we have sent far fewer London staff than we have ever done previously.


  1. Something I have banged on about a number of times. Good to see it picked up by the Mail.

    Of course, I am pretty sure the 13 upfront reporters is outnumbered by various other staff sent out there - backroom journos and so on. I wouldn't be surprised if they had 50 people out there covering it one way and another.

    Another point the BBC need to answer: why are they so obsessed by the USA? They don't devote similar efforts to covering the run up to other elections in other countries.

    I suppose it's true we can relate to the US primaries in ways we can't with Indian or Japanese politics, but even so, it seems excessive. It's more like entertainment than news really - a daily soap.

    The BBC prides itself on its commitment to "diversity" but in this as in so much else, it's a sham commitment - they love covering American politics and will continue to ignore the rest of the world.

    1. If you consider that news stories from the USA are dished up without the BBC reporters having to do a tap, it might explain the pull towards Washington DC. It's a free ride. There's plenty of time for writing, knowing as they do that the BBC will help market their output - what's not to like?

    2. Yes, Emily always looks so deliriously happy when she heads out there that one suspects it is "party time" all the way...

  2. Interesting to note when the BBC changes its tune from the blunt and frankly rude - We are not obliged to tell you and will not be doing so on this occasion - to 'on this occasion' deigning to explain or excuse itself, albeit with the weak 'far fewer than previously'.

    There is no actual requirement in the Freedom of Information Act to be dismissive and curt to the point of rudeness and nothing to prohibit them from offering something in the line of explanation even if they are not obliged to.


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