Tuesday, November 13, 2012
In 20 years as a journalist, I have not yet made a misstake. But not everybody is perfect, even those who work at the BBC.
That vulnerability to error affects every one of us. Which is why I prefer to think “there but for the grace of God” than to seize on and point out others’ mistakes.
And while the recent storms that have blown up at the BBC have been down to some poor decisions and careless journalism, I’m worried that some are using this as a chance to bring Auntie down.
To those people, I would say this: Be careful what you wish for.
I count myself as a critical friend of the BBC, ever ready to consume its output, but always doing a taste test before swallowing.
I was brought up to regard it as a bastion of truth, balance and the British way. Desmond Lynam, Moira Stuart and David Dimbleby were the wise sages who I relied on.
ITV, on the other hand, was considered base and cheap, and rarely allowed to infect my eyes. Downton Abbey has made me reconsider, but the X-Factor has enabled me to retain my prejudices.
Having seen what passes for broadcasting in plenty of other nations, I think we should be grateful for Auntie - even though her soiled bloomers have been exposed.
After all, would you really want something as dumb and demeaning as the US’s Fox News, which is a vehicle for Republican propaganda?
Would you want political interference in news and current affairs, or would you prefer what you take in to be compiled by impartial professionals who are regarded - justifiably - as the global leaders in their profession?
Remember also, that the BBC is about so much more than news journalists.
If it were brought down, it would mean the end of treasures like Coast, Autumn Watch, QI, Planet Earth, anything on BBC4, a host of wonderful costume dramas, the remarkable BBC Sport website, Radio 4’s News Quiz and I’m Sorry, I Haven’t a Clue and so much more. And don’t forget the Olympic coverage, which was sensational.
Perhaps it would help if I offered EastEnders, Garth Crooks and Tim Wonnacott as sacrifices to appease those who want blood?
Yes, it appears that the BBC needs a bit of a shake-up, if only to appease the Witchsmellers Pursuivant at the Daily Mail, which seems to hold the BBC responsible for everything, including the collapse of society, the bad weather and children’s inability to do long division or climb trees.
But, despite those who think it is dominated by lentil-knitting, sandal-eating lefties, the changes must not rob it of its essence nor - Heaven forbid - lead to its downfall.