“Some basic journalistic checks were not completed and no one was sure who was giving the final sign-off on the story on the day, the report found (FT)”
I’ve been asked by countless people (OK, one) what I think of the latest Newsnight catastrophe – speechless, open mouthed, appalled, just about sums it up. Where were the BBC’s duty solicitors? We used to do investigations all the time when I was at the Beeb (and other Radio/TV stations). Job 1- find story. Job 2 (not necessarily in this order) Convince jaundiced bitter dyspeptic editor, it really was a story. Job 3 (by far the hardest) sneak it past the programme lawyers – who would pick it apart. I always joked it took six months to train (tame) an in-house prog lawyer. But in fairness they did expect you to have some facts (aka Truth) to back up the allegations; corroboration helped, plus a quick zoom round motivation/reliability/background of witnesses was considered wise. And (most important question of all), “will the target sue?”. Were they all asleep at the wheel on Snoozenight?
It seems these basic questions were not asked, either by the reporter, the producer, the editor, and the lawyer whose sole job it is to safeguard the broadcaster and up to a point the target.
Which reminds me – I seem to remember that when we made:“allegations of wrongdoing, iniquity or incompetence or (laid) out a strong and damaging critique of an individual or institution the presumption is that those criticised should be given a “right of reply”, that is, given a fair opportunity to respond to the allegations” (BBC Editorial Guideline 6.4.25.) Well if you ‘presumed’ that, you’d be wrong. And as for that cheap stunt Schofield tried on the PM over on ITV – I hope for multiple sackings and an eyewatering Ofcom fine. Didn’t young Cameron handle it brilliantly though? – text book.