Flat Earth News

Former BBC correspondent on broadcast churnalism

Click here to go to the main blog page.

Tagged: / Posted: 25 July 2008

IPI 2008: Glenny attacks BBC for placing foreign correspondents under pressure
June 17, 2008 11:15 AM

Former BBC correspondent Misha Glenny launched a forthright attack on the corporation today for the pressures it places on its reporters, and for hiring correspondents without the appropriate knowledge of the countries in which they operate.

"When I started at BBC, the model of a foreign correspondent was of a slightly detached boffin," he said. "These people were like the Mark Tullys of this world, who knew everything about India and everybody worth knowing in the Indian elite.

"That's all gone. The reporters who know their country now are rare phenomena. What the BBC needs now are young, enthusiastic, energetic people prepared to speak to the World Service one minute, then file 600 words for online and go on to Five Live straight after for a two-way. In such conditions basic reporting, let alone investigative reporting, is impossible."

Glenny, who was previously the BBC's south east Europe correspondent, was speaking at the International Press Institute world congress in Belgrade. He said: "Nowadays BBC correspondents are really under immense time pressure to deliver the news through a proliferation of outlets, with a 24-hour domestic news channel, a 24-hour World TV news channel, a 24-hour talk radio station (5 Live), the World Service, Radio 4 and so on. The BBC has a voracious appetite for news. But too many reports are culled from Reuters and AP".

Glenny, who won a Sony gold award in 1993 for his "outstanding contribution to broadcasting", blamed the internet for the problems. "Even in the BBC, which has exceptional resources and an exceptional editorial strategy, the net is having a profound impact on the way that BBC journalists carry out their work."

He then launched into criticism of the "entirely unregulated" internet because "there is no guarantee that the information is accurate." He added: "If it is filtered through a brand name, then one can have a certain confidence... but the net is a fallible source. Combined with the economic pressures, it means that investigative journalism, in the long-term, is under threat."

He concluded by calling on journalists from across the world to come together to discuss a strategy to deal with "the structural problems" now facing journalism.

>>> Archive of Nick Davies work >>>