Monday, 29 December 2008


It’s time to look again at the three major media events of 2008. Two involve sex, namely Jonathan Ross / Russell Brand and Max Mosley. The other is more probably a lack of it for one man because he’s spent all his time over the last few months on every BBC network available - Robert Peston is your man.

So Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand - the “he f****d your granddaughter” episode with Andrew Sachs, formerly Manuel (right) in the classic sitcom Fawlty Towers. It had got to the stage that after so much abuse against Sachs by Basil and Sybil Fawlty over the years, the Daily Mail felt a line was crossed on BBC Radio 2. Seriously though, the journalism ethics behind this broadcast were horrendous - nobody will forget the now-famous “Yes” sent by Lesley Douglas in response to a concerned email from the BBC’s head of compliance, Dave Barber, about whether to run the show uncut. How you can justify calling up an elderly man to tell him about your sexual exploits with his daughter is beyond belief, but many young people did find it funny, and the fact that only two listeners complained at the time shows the BBC may have got its audience expectations just right. However this type of comedy has got to stop - it’s not funny, and Jonathan Ross should leave the BBC (as well as Brand) right now. Perhaps they could spend his wages on employing 1,000 new journalists to improve the output of BBC News? But no, that would be a silly idea. He’s worth 2,000 journalists, don’t forget...

Max Mosley’s victory against the News of the World for the ‘Nazi orgy’ story they ran about his S&M sessions last year was a disastrous result for all of the tabloids. However the NotW did show that kiss and tell journalism isn't all but over, with their dispatch on Gordon Ramsey’s exploits just a week later. However this is not good news on a wider scale (as noted by Paul Dacre, Daily Mail editor), because the ruling by Mr Justice Eady means that freedom of expression comes below privacy in European Human Rights law, which is a serious issue for investigative journalism. It is perfectly justified that the public should be made aware that a man in high office (as the head of F1) has had his bottom spanked in a Chelsea dungeon, as he could be considered a role model to younger people - and so therefore the News of the World were right to print the story. Well done Colin Myler; keep up the good work.
PICTURE: Daily Telegraph

Robert Peston doesn’t get much sleep. Up before the 6am slot on Radio 4 and then back to bed after a two-way with Huw Edwards on the 10 o’clock News. He is an incredibly gifted journalist, with possibly the best contacts book in the industry. I thought Evan Davis was brilliant as a BBC economics/business editor, but Peston takes things to a whole new level. From his scoops on Northern Rock to LloydsHBOS to the government’s bailout plan, this man is an inspiration to me and many other young journalists across the country. His book, Who Runs Britain?, and Panorama documentary last Monday are just a few examples of how he uncomplicates the complicated and makes finance so much more interesting to the common man.

Two ends of the spectrum: Peston and Brand/Ross. The BBC’s certainly fulfilled its remit of plurality of voices over the last year, hasn’t it?