Posts Tagged ‘bbc trust’

BBC Trust, Private Eye and Jazz Solos

May 5, 2011

So what do I really know about Diane Coyle, new vice-chair of the BBC Trust?

Not much. I’ve never met her.

I do however follow her on Twitter, and through that read posts from her blog. The impression I get is from those is that she seems a very intelligent and rather nice (and friendly) human being. Through following her I’ve been put in touch with some well expressed and original thoughts and ideas.

So I was disappointed to read the rather snarky piece in Private Eye about Diane Coyle’s and David Liddiment’s appearance in front of the Select Commitee as BBC Trustees. (Private Eye don’t put much of their content online as they want you to buy the magazine so here’s a rather blurred picture to prove I did).

The most revealing phrase in the piece is the description that Liddiment…

“listened to all this like a jazz musician who has just listened to a colleague give an obscure solo”.

It reveals a very particular attitude: suspicious of anything that might require some intellectual effort to appreciate.

Like a jazz solo.

Or running rather complex governance structures and processes as BBC Trustees have to do.

“Licence payers stuffed again”

…Gavel Basher ends with a rhetorical flourish.

How exactly have licence fee payers been “stuffed”? By BBC Trustees trying to do their job? How are they going to do that other than with processes and committees? Perhaps Gavel Basher would prefer them to do their jobs without any evidence as he seems to object to the phrase “evidence based research”?

Really it’s the language that Gavel Basher objects to. Our old friend “Birtspeak”.

“Birtspeak” … well I remain an unrepentant Birtist.

John Birt was in my opinion the greatest BBC Director General of the past forty years. (I suspect I’m in a minority here).

People who attack Birtspeak are like people who go to Paris for the weekend and then take umbrage at the fact that people there speak French.

So I’m more inclined to believe what I’ve read of Diane Coyle on Twitter than in Private Eye. Although, like Diane herself, I’m trying to keep an open mind…


BBC Trust: cheerleader or critical friend?

October 20, 2009

As people who know me will be aware I think the present arrangements for governing the BBC (via the BBC Trust) are better than the previous ones (see my comment on Roy Greenslade’s blog from a while ago).

Here’s two topical links on this subject:

“Raymond Snoddy: The case against has not been proven”

Raymond Snoddy in his article asks one of the critical questions – if you don’t have something like the BBC Trust how exactly do you oversee the BBC?

While paidContent goes even further.

“BBC’s Regulator Isn’t A ‘Cheerleader’, It’s A Heckler”

Regardless of the rights or wrongs of individual decisions, at the moment the Trust doesn’t feel like a body which is simply going to do whatever BBC management wants…

Wikipedia’s Values Are The BBC’s Values

June 5, 2008

Over the past few days I’ve read both the BBC Trust’s Service Licence Review of and the BBC’s management’s submission.

It feels like the BBC is hovering on the edge of a conceptual leap forwards, scared about making the leap.

I quote (management submission p.98):

The BBC grew up in and often shaped the age of broadcasting. Over the last 10 years, it has been thrust into the age of computers where it has made important but fewer defining contributions. It has been a rapidly-evolving age, in which many of the truths of the broadcasting age have been contested. These are the truths on which the BBC has built its global stature – that professionals know best, that control is the way to ensure quality, that audience contributions are valuable but must be crafted or editorialised to release that value, that the audience must only be given the finished product, that professionals will create more content than the audience.

To fit itself for the future, the BBC must demonstrate a willingness and an ability to engage in the discussion about the new world. The internet will help it to do so by enabling a direct dialogue by which it can be held to account and develop greater responsiveness.

The BBc has to do a lot more than just “enter a dialogue”.

From the BBC Trust’s review (p. 31):

“The encouragement of user participation by means of user-generated content (UGC) will need to be managed carefully so that BBC news’ brand values of impartiality, accuracy and independence (which we have found to be particularly strong online) are not challenged.”

There’s an underlying anxiety that if we collaberate with licence fee payers in places not controlled by the BBC, or allow them to help make or influence BBC content it will somehow damage BBC values and traditional strengths.

It may be true that there are some places which the BBC should not go.

But to choose an example Wikipedia is not one of them.

Wikipedia’s values are almost exactly the same as the BBC’s.

What’s the difference between Wikipedia’s value of neutrality:

“Neutral point of view is a fundamental Wikimedia principle and a cornerstone of Wikipedia. All Wikipedia articles and other encyclopedic content must be written from a neutral point of view (NPOV), representing fairly, and as far as possible without bias, all significant views that have been published by reliable sources.”

and the BBC’s value of impartiality including this:

  • we strive to reflect a wide range of opinion and explore a range and conflict of views so that no significant strand of thought is knowingly unreflected or under represented. “
  • The difference is not in values or principles but in how you do it.

    Wikipedia says “we want to search for the truth. And we want everyone to help us find it”

    The BBC says “we want to search for the truth. But ONLY professional BBC people are allowed to do it.”

    We’re wrong.

    In practice there is at least one recent example of where the BBC used the wisdom of the crowd to change and improve its journalism. Last year the Newsround webpages about 9/11 were changed after some concerted lobbying from various bloggers. Here’s what Sinead Rocks said on the Editors blog. Here’s what I said at the time on my internal BBC blog. You won’t be able to see my blog outside the firewall so here’s a quote:

    “Is (this) an organised lobby of people with an axe to grind about the BBC’s output? Is it a example of “networked journalism”? Or perhaps both? …

    Has the conversation made what’s on Newsround’s website better? On balance I think yes, although I would be interested to know what others think.”

    This was an uncomfortable experience for the BBC. But how practically was it any different from the kind of often fractious debates and editing that go on in Wikipedia?

    We have to come down off our pedestals and realise that some licence fee payers are cleverer than we are. Anyone who shares the BBC values should be welcome to make or help make BBC content whether they are professional and paid by us or whether they are not.

    Doing this does not undermine BBC values. It strengthens them.

    What would it be like if licence fee payers not only understood and believed in impartiality (which they do), but also actively helped make the BBC’s content more impartial?

    Isn’t that an exciting prospect? Let’s jump!

    BBC Trust Argy Bargy

    January 20, 2008

    According to the Independent on Sunday there was some argy bargy last week at the BBC News festival involving Andrew Neil and Sir Michael Lyons.

    My thoughts on this kind of thing are on Roy Greenslade’s blog.