Sunday 31 May 2020

Watch this space

Referring to his own Spectator article and Charles Moore's piece in the Daily Telegraph, former ITV newsreader Alastair Stewart's Twitter feed yesterday evolved into an interesting conversation. It sounds as if Alastair has been having some interesting conversations with people high up in the BBC.

(The one slight snag with this thread is that it is unusually full of people called Alastair.) 

Alastair Stewart: Charles Moore is a high-Tory & former Editor of the Telegraph. That said, this is powerful: "The best thing for Boris Johnson to do right now is to let the BBC stew in its own existential juice & strike when Covid-19 has passed". Agree or disagree with Mr Moore's analysis, his suggestion to Boris Johnson about dealing with the BBC, post-Covid19, will not fall on deaf ears. Those who have brought this upon themselves might well reflect how they have played into their enemies' hands.
Alastair Bruce: The British Army has Values and Standards to guide conduct of all soldiers. Perhaps this is what you are suggesting here? When I joined Sky News I was taught similar lesson by my mentor & it’s stood me pretty well. Your reference to similar guidance chimes with that sage advice.
Alastair Stewart: Broadcasting has its 'Values & Standards' equivalents: Ofcom regulations & broadcasters' Editorial Guidelines.  Many fine political & investigative journalists have demonstrated important work can be done within them. Their breach is not an act of heroism; it is a suicide dash.
Mike: I used to argue against scrapping the licence fee, as I felt that would help worsen and ingrain bias in broadcasting. But, sustained biased behaviour over the past two years have convinced me we are already in that situation and the fee is indefensible.
Alastair Stewart: You capture, perfectly, the risk that some are taking. I am a passionate supporter of the BBC and want it to survive and thrive. Recent events will not help.
Jonathan: Do you think that the problem of perceived impartiality is magnified somewhat when it’s involving a state broadcaster, one that is paid for by something akin to a tax?
Alastair Stewart: The debate over the license fee leaves the terrain open. I've just had a note from a senior figure at the BBC, terrified that Charles Moore is spot on.
Alastair Newey: I'm with Mike. BBC produces fantastic content but you can sense anti-Tory bias in many of BBC journalists social media presence. Lewis Goodall is a perfect example of that. The question is, why people higher up in BBC don't see it as a problem.
Alastair Stewart: Many do... watch this space.
Really2020?: Who on earth is mentoring the current crop!!!
Alastair Stewart: Impartiality should be front and centre of any journalism/media studies curriculum. If it isn't, institutions taking those students' fees are acting under false pretences.
Nikki Clinton: Important points made by Alastair Stewart on why it’s imperative broadcasting media leave their partiality at the door and give it to us straight, leaving us to draw our own conclusions. We never needed a balanced opinion more than now.
Graham Dish: Agree, but what will drive this to happen? Practically speaking, what policy or regulatory changes will give us this desirable outcome?
Alastair Stewart: Enforcement. Period.
Chris Crampton: May I ask if you've had feedback from within the BBC supporting your view?  It would really help to know if there were at least some of them deeply concerned by all this.
Alastair Stewart: Yes.

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