I Hate “Senior Sources”

May 31, 2008

I love this story from the Observer.

“BBC insiders”, “senior BBC correspondents”, “insiders”, “there is a perception…” (so a perception then, not anything which is actually true or there is any evidence for)…

“it is believed several journalists” (it is believed? by who?)… but “the BBC says” (who exactly is this “BBC”? care to give us a name?)…

“Figures obtained by the Observer” (aha! there is some evidence! from where exactly? an internal BBC report? or did an Observer journalist sit by the telly and count on his or her fingers? )

“BBC insiders claim reporters fear… “but experienced correspondents privately say”… “according to the insider, a feeling shared by senior production staff. They…”

Hang on a second. Is there one insider or a lot of them? Are these experienced correspondents (who of course can only speak in private) the same as the senior production staff or a different bunch of people?

“One of the BBC’s most senior news executives…”

Let’s have a guess at who this might be. Richard Sambrook? Or Craig Oliver who is actually named? Peter Horrocks? Pity whoever it is feels they cannot be named (and I can’t for the life of me think why not. Fear of offending some of those experienced correspondents perhaps? Of course those correspondents are scared too, otherwise they would go on the record. So two lots of anonymous people who are too scared of each other to talk in public.)

“The BBC Trust, which replaced the board of governors and is responsible for monitoring, would not comment. A BBC spokesman…” so who’s the BBC spokesman?

A non story involving people who won’t speak and won’t be named.


4 Responses to “I Hate “Senior Sources””

  1. Peter Horrocks Says:


    The senior executive was indeed me. I assumed I was giving James Robinson on the record quotes. I don’t know why he didn’t attribute them directly to me.


  2. nickreynoldsatwork Says:

    Thanks Peter. I wonder why? Makes the story more exciting I suppose.

  3. Mary Picken Says:

    A BBC spokesperson is shorthand for the BBC Press Office. Press Office never personalises responses, as they are given officially on behalf of the BBC, and not as individuals.
    Hope that makes sense

  4. […] also a pity that the senior BBC figure defending the BBC also felt they could not be named. As my last post on this subject revealed this seems to a long standing […]

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