Sunday 10 July 2022

“Is no one checking scripts any more?”

Under the headline BBC facing brain drain as exodus goes deeper than just the big names, The Sunday Times's media editor Rosamund Urwin reports on the mood of “despondency” among BBC news employees as the leaving parties pile up. The paper says the BBC “has lost more than 2,500 years of experience...since January 2020”, and another thousand employees might go.

As for BBC profligacy, I was particularly taken by this passage:
In her book, Scoops, published this week, Sam McAlister, the former Newsnight producer who clinched the interview with Prince Andrew, writes of a famous BBC presenter “who spent more money in taxi expenses than I earned in an entire year. Actually, not once, several times. I’d check to see I’d finally managed to out-earn his taxi expenses every year. I never did.”
Meanwhile on Twitter...

One of the earlier departed, Hugh Sykes, was listening to Radio 4 last night. From the sounds of it, a BBC programme was praising the BBC. That led to the following thread:

  •  'A Hard Look At Soft Power' on BBC Radio 4  gave BBC News as one of the best examples, but it's at risk due to the over-75s licence deal scandalously agreed by ex d-g Tony Hall with John Whittingdale which slashed the BBC budget by 20%. Accuracy is one of the casualties - eg (more): 
  • Inaccuracies are creeping into BBC News. For example, news bulletins describing abortion as a 'Constitutional right' in the USA. It has never been that. It isn't mentioned in the Constitution. Roe Vs Wade only made it a l e g a l right. Is no one checking scripts any more? 
  • Conservatives politicians (like Nadine Dorries) undermining the BBC with tendentious ideological attacks may regret it when they are out of power and they find that the BBC is no longer holding their opposition successors robustly to account. 
  • In Iraq nearly 20 years ago I had to explain the BBC Gilligan/Dodgy Dossier/David Kelly/Hutton row to a taxi driver. When I'd finished, he asked "So. BBC not government?!" No, I said, BBC not government. That needs to remain true if this British soft power is to remain powerful.

“Is no one checking scripts any more?”, asks Hugh. 

Well, on his specific point - e.g. on Saturday 2 July, the BBC News Channel repeatedly said, throughout the day, “It comes after the US Supreme Court's decision to remove a woman's constitutional right to an abortion.” - one person who evidently isn't is Amol Rajan. Here's Amol interviewing Billie Jean King:
At the time of our speaking, we have only seen the draft judgment of a proposal to overturn Roe v Wade, which is the landmark case of 1973 which enshrined a woman's constitutional right to an abortion in the US.

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