Bias – Management at the BBC

Over the last week or so (Nov: 2012) there has been an avalanche of criticism levelled at the BBC management and in particular on the structure of that management. Yet, no one seems to know who is in charge or who is making the relevant decisions. In an organisation so large that is mind boggling to get your head around. It makes me think of bubble wrap, a series of small pouches held together; you can pop one bubble and it doesn’t affect the others. Incredulous! The other hammer blow has come on the Corporation’s propensity for political bias.

Not only has the BBC been criticised by outsiders but internal attacks by presenters, past & present has brought a fanfare of astute observations:
• Jeremy Paxman – “timeserving and biddable managers”. I bet Paxman caused a stampede, and a few spilled cups of tea, in a dive for the dictionary to find out what ‘biddable’ meant.
• David Dimbleby – “bonkers at management level”.
• Libby Purves – “bloated and ineffectual upper layers”.
Jon Snow, interviewed on Sky News found it difficult to describe the management structure. It came across almost like a management ‘maze’. Obviously it’s a maze in need of some serious trimming, so that people can get an idea where they’re going. Others, John Simpson, Peter Sissons and John Tusa added their weight to the clamour for change at the top. These are all stalwarts of the Corporation, well respected journalists and known celebrities, therefore their voices get heard and people pay heed.
Q. Where have they been till now?

Humpty Dumpty sat on a ……….

A few more questions come to mind:
• How much does this ‘ineffectual’ management structure cost?
• Should that money not be spent on better programming?
Was the management structure created to satisfy a – jobs for the boys/girls culture?      Or more candidly, a conscious disregard for all outside the honeycomb?

Sir John Tusa interviewed on Sky News, hinted strongly that internal candidates and those already considered for the job as Director General (DG) should not be added to any new shortlist. This suggestion should be adopted by the Government and the BBC Trust as a no-brainer!

“No problem can be solved by the same consciousness that created it. We need to see the world anew”. Albert Einstein.

John Tusa raised another interesting point during his TV interview, when he argued that 99% of journalists at the BBC go about their work in a professional way. I would have to take that with a large pinch of salt. It seems to me that many, too many at the BBC suffer from a mindset.

It can get too much

Mindset creates a neurosis of thought that leads to blind spots in critical thinking. It stems from an idea that has gained some momentum and gradually pervades the minds of those who have no alternative vision; and so becomes the prevailing thought process of the group/organisation. This in turn allows the actors to go about their roles without any sense of guilt or reference to their critical faculties. Within that mindset a new parameter is formed and within that parameter certain practices that might otherwise have been deemed questionable, untoward or irresponsible become accepted norm. Some will then attempt to add to the new norm for self gratification (innate selfishness) to gain promotion. What Paxman would describe as biddable. What us common folk would describe as lickarses!
Mindset grows inconspicuously into a paralysis of the thought processes, hence the blind spots. People may appear perfectly sound in other aspects of their lives and rational in most instances. However, when they walk through the door to their workplace, where mindset is a contagion they adapt to the new environment. They may experience a niggle at the back of the conscious mind but that is quickly dismissed as their reality is their job. They go with the flow! Being trapped in a mindset denudes you as a person. It deprives you of your essence, your thought processes.

In all probability it was the ‘maze’ of the management structure that led to the Newsnight fiasco that later had a leading Tory castigated as a paedophile. Of course, political bias played a serpent’s role in the haste to poison the Tories. Yet such devilish behaviour is not new:

“It is as sure as you are Roderigo,
Were I the Moor, I would not be Iago.
In following him, I follow but myself.
Heaven is my judge, not I for love and duty,
But seeming so, for my peculiar end;
Othello, Act 1 – S1 – Iago

Without the bias and the haste that that engendered, integrity may have broke through and prevented what followed – a sham of journalism. And thus the pack of crass hacks would not have pounced like laughing hyenas. Twits indeed!

We must expect the highest of standards from a publicly funded institution such as the BBC. Many depend on the Corporation to keep them informed. They watch the news, Newsnight, Question Time etc:. If the information or sentiment of any of those programmes is tinged with a degree of bias then subliminally it helps to form the thinking of those watching. The latter is especially true if those viewers are not regularly provided with an alternative viewpoint.
Under the Society of Professional Journalists – Code of Ethics, it reads:
• Test the accuracy of information
• Seek out subjects….to give them the opportunity to respond.
In a blog by Rob Edwards, he posted a talk he gave to the NUJ Edinburgh Branch; in his list of priorities he highlighted:
• Honesty = No 1 – Check and re check the facts= No 3
It would seem that some BBC journalists have lost their little red book of ethics.

“Information is the currency of democracy”.           

Thomas Jefferson, 1743 – 1826

If we can accept Jefferson’s statement as a foundation stone then we must build upon it. We could consider adding: honest and guarantee the integrity. You may have your own idea. Press play. There is no prize for the winner.
Every educated person must know that bias stalks you like a dark shadow. It engages you in sword play at every turn; you are duty bound to defend against it. However, that is only possible if one is not flying through the imaginary air with your secret mask on.

‘Political correctness and a pervasive Left – of – Centre mindset have infected much of its news agenda, writing and reporting’. Peter Sissons. Daily Mail Nov. 12, 2012.

Sissons, does not stand alone. We know of Mark Thomson, ex. DG at the BBC who admitted to a ‘massive’ left bias. Other instances are too numerous to mention. Surely, it must end this sadomasochism at Auntie Beeb’s? The BBC cannot be allowed to treat; its profession, the viewer, the electorate, democracy, with such contempt.

“…and the manner in which Lord McAlpine has been pursued by the Corporation bears the hallmarks of political bias that must threaten its independence”.                                         Peter Sissons, ibid.

So many great shows, so many voices remembered on rugby, cricket and football. So many belly laughs – “Don’t tell him your name Pike”. So many, so manies endangered by a gang of political hacks!