BBC News and what the future looks like from the top floor

I listened to a briefing recently by a senior person at BBC News. I heard it on background, so I can’t name the individual but you can take it that this person knows a lot about a newsgathering operation which employs, worldwide, 6000 people. The world’s largest, so far. A few snippets:

  • Chinese state broadcasting is set to become the world’s biggest newsgatherer. We don’t know when. In parts of Africa, people don’t see the Chinese as having any agenda or slant. The BBC is sometimes seen as having a post-colonial British agenda.
  • In Britain, approval of the BBC diminishes the further you go from London.
  • The BBC cuts programme is known as “Delivering Quality First” or “DQF”. In the newsroom this is rendered as “Duck Quick or you’re F*****.”
  • We may be cutting back on two on-screen presenters on the news channel but we’re re-appointing political reporters at local radio stations. In local politics coverage, papers are “nowhere”.
  • The first five bi-lingual (i.e. not English mother tongue) correspondents reporting across the network are just about to start work.
  • The audience is pretty bored with the primary campaign in the US presidential. We kid ourselves about the level of interest. The Radio 4 audience is actually pretty hostile to the US.
  • We have a dilemma about local coverage: the BBC Trust stopped plans to do that. We’re not in a good place.
  • When the Leveson Inquiry began, the BBC began its own internal investigation. Pretty uncomfortable having your own records gone through. As far as I know, the Daily Mirror haven’t yet done their own inquiry.

 

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2 comments

  1. I’m very interested in US politics, and a big Radio 4 listener – but because I’m so interested, I tend to want more detail than is provided, or to already know it anyway thanks to the wonders of the internet and smartphones and Google Reader and so on.

    I expect most people like me have similar habits, so wouldn’t mind too much if Radio 4 cut back on its US elections coverage, in deference to the many listeners who think there’s too much about it.

    PS, as a formal local paper politics reporter, I can safely say it was the local broadcasters who were nowhere on local politics! Too big an area to cover, virtually all of their politics stories were skimmed from the papers.

  2. If you are interested in press freedom here is a great debate by Worldbytes, where volunteers consider the Counter Leveson Inquiry, a campaign launched by the online journal Spiked. Journalist Patrick Hayes challenges participants not to go along with the inquiry’s dangerous assumptions. He argues that free speech and a free press with no ‘buts’ are essential for democracy.

    http://www.worldbytes.org/dont-shout-at-the-telly-the-leveson-inquiry/