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THREAD (dedicated to my ex-colleagues at NBH).... What's wrong with Fran Unsworth's vision for BBC News: 1) Any editorial graphic where "original journalism" is in the bottom corner is a recipe for News becoming an announcement board for business, the monarchy and the state...
2/ At the BBC, since the early 2000s, managers have progressively imposed centralised control on programme editors and individual journalists. The unspoken reason is so that the ideological frame can be set by a few senior managers...
3/ They got rid of packages on Today, wrestled Panorama under their control, reduced Newsnight's editorial independence, and finally subordinated the Ten to a centralised "Newsgathering" operation... that's while I was still there...
4/ The effect was a) to sever individual programmes/bulletins connections with their specific audience b) reduce the chance that some individually motivated team might blunder into an explosive story that the managers had no control over...
5/ Unsurprisingly, confronted with a bland an ideologically manipulated product, the digitally-empowered audiences began to switch off or go elsewhere... so the big centralisation drive creates the need for further cuts and centralisation...
6/ (Leave aside the politics, it's a Weberian managerial dream, because though the journalists are cut, and with no security have to jump to the managers' tune, there are never any fewer managers...)
7/ So this round of centralised editorial control has to target what's left of the original programme-focused journalism: Victoria Derbyshire, Newsnight, 5 Live - everything original is under threat, everything bland is safe - and what signal does that send to the journalism?...
8/ Look again at the diagram: it's like the editor of a lifestyle magazine drew it, not a news journalist. "On the day" and "planned" mean basically press-release stories. Here's the current News front page. I've put a star next to the one original story...
9/ Is there an alternative? Yes - watch and learn from ITN: Channel 4 News produces much more with much less, by letting senior reporters and producers pile into actual breaking news, sometimes with minimal command and control, but always asking "what just happened"?...
10/10 So the next DG should solicit competitive bids for a rolling 5-year contract to manage BBC News. If money's tight, cut something else: News is what the BBC was born to report... More here: newstatesman.com/politics/uk/20…
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