The BBC: a call for more of the same

John Reith - father of the BBC

Chris Dillow argues that the BBC should not devote so much effort to news gathering. He would have the corporation close down its radio and television news operations, and focus instead on its website.

Chris’s argument that the web is a better medium for news than television is partly convincing, but I suspect that for many the Internet is where they chat with friends and do a little lazy shopping. And for some of us who spend much or all of our working lives online, the aim is to reduce the amount of time spent in front of a computer. Real life beckons.

Abolish news gathering? If anything the BBC should be devoting more resources to this area. Maybe they could cut back on pointless 24-hour rolling news presentation, but surely not frontline journalism. The BBC often excels in this area, and that goes for local news as well as the big stuff on the national and international stages.

Newspapers are already cutting back on reportage, and replacing news with opinion. And they are sinking under the weight of this often low information content verbiage. Newspapers increasingly appeal to niche markets, and while the Guardian, for example, is leading the way with its online operation, it is no longer a national newspaper as we once understood the term.

Chris would like to see the BBC producing more serious documentaries. Like Chris I’m a fan of BBC4 – which is like BBC2 without the darts and snooker – but I think he is in danger of becoming blinded to the wider picture by his cultural affinity with the new upmarket channel. The corporation produces and commissions quality programming right across the network.

A cull of BBC managers would be a good thing, and here I am in agreement with Chris. Perhaps they could have Jonathan Ross put down humanely while they’re at it. Just think of the number of professional journalists the BBC could hire with the millions paid out to inane broadcast celebrities.