BBC Cartoon


January 29th, 2020

The crisis spiral: When nothing goes right…

Over the weekend, the BBC made a small mistake. It played a video of the basketball player LeBron James instead of Kobe Bryant, who had just died in a helicopter crash.

The broadcaster immediately apologised for what was a genuine ‘human error’. In the fast-paced atmosphere of a newsroom mistakes happen; I’ve been there.

But social media went wild, claiming everything from conspiracy theories to racism.

When an organisation is in crisis, nothing seems to go right. Even the simplest events go wrong – and a new mini-crisis is generated!

The BBC is an organisation in crisis, for a huge amount of its funding it relies on a licence-fee paid by anyone who owns a TV set. Although it has a commercial arm, it is hugely reliant on this funding, which is controlled by the government.

During the election last year, the two main parties had only one point of agreement: the BBC is biased. (It should be noted that, for a politician, bias often means not having to transmit your press release verbatim, and in-full).

The BBC has now moved from being a news outlet to a news story itself.

For those of us who have been at the butt-end of a BBC ‘investigation’, there is a certain sense of schadenfreude. And that’s a shame, because there is a real need for reporting that is as unbiased as it can be.

The BBC aspire for this, and on occasion failed to meet its own high standards. It will now have a new boss and, perhaps chastened, it will again find its feet as the news outlet with the most credibility.

It would be a shame if it didn’t.

We’ll see.

Have a good week.

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