Can I point you in the direction of an email exchange – it’s currently in the list down on the right and mentions Okaye Dokaye. I’m, in a way, rightly being taken to task for my BBC criticisms by a former – very sparky – colleague. It shows how much all this means to people and how I’m breaking a taboo by trying to explain, from my inside perspective, how things are done in the BBC. It is a painful process but I am convinced that it is now necessary as trust in the BBC declines and fewer Scots think it’s speaking for them. I want real openness and real public debate on the role and operation of public service broadcasting in Scotland. I think you’re entitled to it. I also respect my former colleagues but I don’t think that means they – or me – are beyond scrutiny. Here is the exchange.
FFS Derek, as one of those people who could apparently not accurately be described as a journalist, you’ll not mind if, actually, I do take offence.
Since when does having “journalist” attached to your name mean you’re actually any good at your job? Some of the dullards who have populated BBC News over the years wouldn’t recognise a good story or a cracking contributor if either bit them on the bahookie.
So, whatever your feelings about Call Kaye, its staff, its production/editorial values, and the department it currently lives in, the people (of whom I was one) putting the programme together have knocked their pans in, often in pretty desperate conditions, to bring a new audience and a different kind of programme to the airwaves.
If BBC Scotland failed in its line management, production training and editorial benchmarking of Call Kaye, feel free to have a pop. But please do NOT have a go at your former colleagues. These are people working under exactly the same strains and pressures as colleagues in news. But somehow they manage to do it without the burden of the all-too-familiar NSC (Newsroom Superiority Complex). Mairi
Hi Mairi. FFS. Read the blog again. I’m defending the BBC against claims of political bias. Ninety per cent of the people reading this blog believe the BBC is deliberately biased against independence and is a nest of Labourites. I’m spending more time defending the BBC than the BBC is. We both know there is no organised bias but how do you explain that to a deeply sceptical public? The BBC doesn’t even bother trying, it’s so aloof and untroubled. It seems to me that is the big question we confront. I’m searching for ways of explaining how this impression has taken hold and is it really impossible that there could be something in what I say?
When *less than half of Scots think the news output represents their lives, it is a scandal requiring answers. It is a kind of national emergency for the BBC. Not that you’d know it from their reaction. I’m trying to use my knowledge to explain how the BBC operates, why decisions are made to give a clearer picture, something the BBC should do for itself.
Why don’t you do the same? I invite you to write as much as you want about your experience of working on Kaye in a way that the public would understand and explain to them the difficulties, pressures and pitfalls and why they are wrong to hear political bias, if that’s your view. What do you say? The blog is yours.
*Why doesn’t the BBC make a fly-on-the-wall doc showing the process of making the news, highlighting the dilemmas we all encounter in producing it and show what’s involved, warts and all to let the public decide if BBC news does represent them and, if not, to understand why that might be? The public has a right to know how the public service they pay for works. When our contracts debar us from speaking up while in BBC employment, I think it’s a responsibility to do so when out of the BBC. I’m not judge and jury, just a gadgie with a keyboard but I do have opinions about what is wrong in PQ and so do you. I’ve decided to speak up and put myself out there and it’s an uncomfortable place. Yesterday I had a whisper that legal action may be considered. Ask yourself why that should be in a public-funded organisation when someone with knowledge wants to pass it on to the public.
And it isn’t just the management who carry the can. Everybody does. Me too. I am not pursuing former colleagues but neither do I suffer from blind loyalty. There is a major public concern here and everybody connected to the BBC is at the heart of it. No one is above criticism. Sorry you’re offended but how often did you threaten to blow up at work because of the way things are run? I’m trying to say that it’s not good enough and none of us can afford to be shrinking violets. (I’m already receiving heavy negative traffic for breaking the omerta). And aren’t your own remarks about journalists just another criticism of former colleagues?
Journalists are probably guilty of superiority but then news is the main driver of audience and outputs what…eight hours a day plus bulletins in radio alone…and has disproportionately been hit with jobs cuts. As you know, when BBC pensions have to be protected, who takes action, who stands on the picket line and takes a pay cut while others walk into work? I stand by my view that a news-based programme should be based in news. I commended the professionalism of the *Kaye team. I’m not saying they don’t work hard, either, that is taken for granted. And has no one really detected anything that could, in the intensely political Scotland of today, could be taken as bias? Seems unlikely in the middle of a live phone-in. The need for an upgraded awareness of that risk across all output is glaring and is, I think, a notable omission by management.
*Why not also a filmed interview on the website with Kaye? Allow her to explain her approach, her attitude, to reaction to criticism? She can defend herself and be really personable so why not let the public see another side of her and her team, show how they operate, how callers are selected, what the rules are etc. That would be a digital response more suited to the age than the BBC straight bat of….Nothing to see here…move on. Sorry again that it’s personally hurtful, Mairi but I think there is an issue here bigger than the individual. Thanks for reading the blog and good luck with the new company. Derek