opinion column uk

BBC News crisis a great opportunity for change

BBC-News-Scandal

BBC Can become a greater organisation

It’s been a very bad week for the BBC with the resignation of George Entwistle after a Newsnight blunder that has put the ethics of journalism practices into question across the board.

How can a programme like Newsnight survive after such a scandalous and erroneous broadcast? Moreover, how can the BBC recover its image and improve its journalism practices so that it can properly serve license fee payer?

It’s no secret that the BBC suffers from crippling bureaucracy. It’s a big organisation that has struggled to update itself over the last few years. The technology behind journalism has changed; but the organisation hasn’t.

Why is BBC News always the last to report what’s happening in the world? This is clearly not good enough. We have seen this week, particularly in entertainment, a BBC news report about Star Wars 7 that was 48 hours old. The news had passed and gone. The article also quotes the Hollywood Reporter as the source. There is no original journalism here. I could have done this in 30 minutes from home on my laptop and that’s not the kind of journalism that we should be paying for.

The issue here is will the BBC Trust and its executives bring in some new talent to change the whole process of news gathering? It is not acceptable for Britain’s leading broadcaster to be the last organisation that publishes news. It’s embarrassing. Film Industry Network is a grassroots movement that was founded without millions of pounds in license fee money, yet we break news much faster than the BBC.

The fast pace of news gathering means that the culture of reporting at the BBC needs to change if it wants to compete with bloggers and other organisations. CNN faces similar challenges, as relevancy comes into question and so do other big corporations.

Whether this scandal will amount to any radical change is unclear, but it does give people a clear mandate to structurally reform the BBC’s own journalism practices. The BBC in my view should be proactively breaking the news from first hand reporting, not copy pasting other sources. It should also not be dependent on one source for information, but a have a strict process that is efficient to get more input. It needs more freelancers at the heart of the story, with a process that allows them to report directly where the news is happening. Surely license fee payers should be paying less not more as the technology to promote and publish news is so much cheaper. I also think that it is outrageous to pay George Entwistle a £450,000 leaving salary. That’s license fee payer money that should go into investing in other areas of culture directly.In actual fact, that sum alone would pay 15 freelance journalists a handsome £30,000 yearly salary. That money could bring round the clock journalism that is vibrant and up-to-the-minute.

There are great people within the organisation that provide exceptional content, but they don’t have the direction to do so in a manner that puts their skills to good use. The BBC Trust and its executives are clearly out of touch with what’s happening in journalism and the world at large and that can’t be accepted. TV licences are compulsory in the UK but should people be paying for shoddy journalism and Bentleys for executives that fail to do their job?

In my conclusion I have to say a lot needs to change, salaries need to be reduced across the board to be both realistic for people at the top, and respectable for people providing the news. This is a license fee payer funded institution after all, not a get rich quick scheme for well connected cronies. No one should be buying 2nd or 3rd homes off the back of people who can barely afford to pay their mortgage. It’s time to change this organisation, how it’s run and make it a 21st century broadcaster that leads news reporting in Britain.

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