For my English language readers who do not speak or read German
My article in the Taz about the BBC Newsnight Lord McAlpine debacle of the BBC in the last weeks gives some background on the amount of change its employees were so far subjected to. Not that it was already enough, Helen Boaden‘s QF speech to staff meant that the BBC had more axings planned: about 800 jobs are to go until 2016, along with the merger of the world service and BBC News. Staff, who wanted to keep anonymous, told me about discrepancies in pay, with managers highly paid, those making programs usually low paid. Another editor complaint that her language service was no longer being measured by quality, but by quantity of hits. She said that only if she reports the “heartbreaking story of the donkey with his prosthesis” will she survive. It is not to be forgotten that this is a member of staff who already witnessed cuts, the loss of funding from the foreign office, and the final departure from Bush House. My article then shifts to a brilliant documentary made by the BBC, one of those we ill see probably less of in the future and produced by James Cook and presented by Mike Thompson (online version is here www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-20267659). It puts the current affair headed by the mistake of falsely accusing one politician into perspective. According to BBCs research about 20.000 Jewish people less could have died in 1944, had the BBC not withheld the truth.
Nevertheless things look difficult at the BBC. I have heartfelt feelings for some of my colleagues and friends who work there, and have told those I conversed with personally that there is no better alternative than take to Doris Day‘s ce sera.
However on a serious note, I do believe the course leader of the highly regarded MA Radio at Goldsmiths, Tim Crook, who works closely with the BBC, was right when he told me that he sees the integrity of journalism under threat. It is important that everyone understands that every time we take a free newspaper in our hand, or read news only online, that is without paying for it, we are contributing to the decline of journalism. This is not to say free stuff and blogs are not sometimes brilliant. They do an excellent service at times. But we need a reliable and in deed trustworthy network of newspapers and media outlets to counter the barrage of spin, political intrigues and corporate chauvinism. At the taz.de they have a nice system of providing the articles free of charge but enabling readers to pay even as little as 5 Pence for any one article voluntarily. It is easily done online and rewards the paper and the journalist.
When it concerns big corporates like the BBC, which receive the main part of their funding from the tax payer, I think it is right to ask why the management gets more than those who physically produce the news. A management which has been accused now of partially not really being in charge, nor having a clue. It is impossible to say to what extend this is right, but what is certain is that far less news will be produced in the future by BBC, for example party conferences will no longer have dedicated teams. Some of the midday news slots will also disappear and there will be more repetition. The merger of the WS bilingual section and BBC news in foreign affairs will also change the way the BBC has traditionally reported, namely through well skilled journalists who are sent to different regions for some time. It is questionable given already huge cuts and redundancies since Hutton, if the same tools of cuts ought to be applied to the BBC as anywhere else because of the government’s austerity brief.