27 January 2004

BBC News Online – Nick Higham on Hutton

Not wishing to prejudice the Hutton report, but this article is a must read.

Whatever side of the political spectrum you are on (for the record: socialist, ex-Labour as of the attack on Iraq, pro-BBC), the BBC’s behaviour post-Kelly has been impeccable.

The BBC, constitutionally neutral in everything except the difference between good and evil, has a very fine line to walk. Modern journalism standards make this line even harder to walk – thirty years ago, who could have predicted the concept of a journalist-newsreader interviewing a journalist-newsreporter, without notes, live on air? – but the BBC nearly always manages it.

Whether they did or didn’t this time (admirably, they admit they didn’t), the response has been perfect.

A Panorama that Richard Dimbleby would have been proud of is followed by dozens of online articles published by the BBC themselves considering their own role in the affair.

And the BBC is considering it from a neutral point of view, as if examining anchovies in the south Pacific rather than a Rock the organisation could founder upon like Thames before it.

However the BBC behaved during the affair, they have exceeded anything that could of been expected of a naff commercial station in any part of the world in reporting the affair fairly, neutrally and with diligence.

If the BBC is destroyed by this debacle – and by a Labour government – a Labour government – then they’ll have already proved just what a mistake this would be.

But, like Thames before them, we’ll all feel the nightmare that follows a major public broadcaster being right and losing rather than being wrong but winning.

Good luck, Greg.

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