Archive for BBC

Savile scandal is a body blow to the BBC’s editorial credibility

Posted in Media with tags , , , , on October 24, 2012 by Tom Leatherbarrow

The facts behind the Jimmy Savile Scandal are, unfortunately, horribly familiar, but the puzzling bit about the whole affair is not that Savile managed to get away with it for so long, but the editorial decision-making process within the BBC once Newsnight got wind of the story.

Here was a story which was potentially career-making for the journalists involved, requiring brave editorial decisions and the backing of senior management.  This could have been one of the BBC’s finest hours, fearlessly turning the spotlight on itself and, in turn, metaphorically pulling down the Saddam-like statues which were being erected in Savile’s name, not least by BBC Light Entertainment.

It’s not as if the journalists involved were going that far out on a limb.  The investigation had generated filmed witness statements and Savile was known to have been interviewed by various police forces over the years.

There was not even fear of retribution.  It is not uncommon for journalists to want to run a story, but for their editors to be warned off by the in-house lawyers for fear of being sued for six figure sums.  But Savile is dead and the dead can’t sue.

So, instead of being fearless, supporting investigative journalism at its finest and having to put up with some short-term discomfort as part of a whole host of organisations who now have questions to answer, the BBC decided to spike the story.

The lessons of history, from Watergate through to Hillsborough and beyond, show us that the truth will, 99.9% of the time, come out. Somebody will turn whistleblower; a document will be uncovered or someone will listen to the tapes.

Did nobody think to try and get ahead of the story and break it on the BBC’s terms?  Lo’ and behold, less than a year after the BBC decision to drop the story, ITV screened its own version of events which has set off the current storm.

One of the biggest ironies in all of this is that many of those whom we can only assume were involved in the decision, namely Helen Boaden, Head of BBC News and Stephen Mitchell, Deputy Director of News have gone to ground.  They don’t want to talk to the media!

Many of these individuals, from Director General George Entwistle down, are paid huge amounts of money (the BBC’s Head of News is paid circa £350k per year) to get these decisions right.

They have failed and in the process have done enormous damage to the BBC’s credibility.


Hyprocrisy stalks reaction to Panorama FIFA investigation

Posted in Media, Sport with tags , , , , , on November 30, 2010 by Tom Leatherbarrow

Contrary to much of what you will read this morning, there was plenty of new information in last night’s Panorama programme which exposed million dollar bribery and corruption in FIFA. The Sun, shamelessly, wraps itself in the flag and takes the opportunity to further News Corporation’s anti-BBC agenda declaring it has ‘sabotaged’ the bid. Inside, Ian Wright labels the programme, “brainless, betraying and cretinous” and “ridiculously unpatriotic”.

Much more surprising has been the reaction from some of our most respected journalists, who seem to have forgotten that they should be wielding the ‘simple sword of truth’ not aiding and abetting cover-ups.

Henry Winter in the Telegraph wrote this today. “Panorama have a right and duty to investigate, even into events a decade old, but sitting on the story until the eve of the World Cup vote smacked of cynical ratings-hunting.”

Er … well isn’t that what the media does Henry? Are we to believe that you have never written a negative story about a club or a manager designed to appear on the morning before a team plays? Are we to believe that if this information had come into your possession you would have sat on it until the cricket season?

What’s more, I’d be interested to know what your current employers, who spearheaded the investigations into MP’s expenses, think about this interpretation of your role as a respected journalist.

I’ll give you another good reason why Panorama got its timing absolutely right. Last night’s programme alleged that Jack Warner, a member of the FIFA Executive Committee ordered $84,240 worth of tickets for World Cup matches in South Africa this summer, in order to sell them on to ticket touts for a huge profit. Today, Mr Warner has breakfast with the Prime Minister.

Two realisations have dawned upon me in recent months. Firstly, England will never win the World Cup in my lifetime. The way the game is set up and governed in this country means that we will never produce the numbers of quality, technically adept, players needed to give the national team coach a realistic chance.

Secondly, England will never host the World Cup in my lifetime. The corruption that is rife within FIFA will see to it that the World Cup goes to those who line some very shady pockets in Zurich.

FIFA’s motto is “For the Good of the Game”, what a load of *’&#!