The Daily Telegraph
BBC News chief wants to ‘pull back curtain’ and be transparent
BBC News must “pull back the curtain” on its journalism to convince sceptical audiences that the corporation is impartial, its new boss has said.
Deborah Turness, in an address to staff on her first day as chief executive of BBC News, said the corporation cannot take viewers’ trust for granted.
“We must challenge ourselves to deliver what today’s increasingly sceptical news audiences need if we are to continue to earn their trust,” said Ms Turness, who formerly ran ITN.
“We all know that we’re living in turbulent and divisive times and that after a decade of disinformation in the echo chamber of social media, no news organisation, not even the BBC, can take trust for granted.
“Today’s news audiences are telling us they need more from us. They need greater transparency,” she said.
“They need to understand more about how we do our work, if they are truly to believe. They need us to pull back the curtain – to tell them not just what we know, but how we know it. And what we don’t know.”
She told staff: “I think of news organisations as being shaped like an iceberg, with the majority of the work hidden below the water line and only a fraction visible to the world.
“And imagine how stunned audiences would be if they could understand the hard work that you do, each and every day, to ensure that the information that they receive from BBC News is the most impartial and the most accurate that it can be.”
Ms Turness joins a week after Emily Maitlis accused the BBC of letting Sir Robbie Gibb, a BBC board member and former No 10 spin doctor, influence its decision-making. Maitlis called Sir Robbie an “active agent of the Conservative Party” and complained that he was sitting as “the arbiter of BBC impartiality”.
Ms Turness said it was “the privilege of my career” to join the BBC, saying she had long admired the broadcaster while working for its competitors. “It’s the BBC that has always held the bar: the standards in journalism. You set the quality that others follow the world over,” she told staff.
Tim Davie, the BBC director-general, will be questioned on impartiality today when he appears before MPS at the DCMS select committee.
Hours after Ms Turness made her address to staff, Clive Myrie, the BBC News presenter, gave a speech on impartiality to the Royal Television Society. In the Steve Hewlett Memorial Lecture, Myrie joked about two types of people who criticise the BBC for its views, and said they would celebrate if the corporation no longer existed.
“‘Hooray,’ they’d say, ‘No more woke news, wokeist programming, wokey Left-wing indoctrination and pernicious identity politics.’
“And others might say hooray, but curiously for exactly the opposite reasons. ‘No more Right-wing propaganda,’ they’d chant.”
Separately, Sky News reported that the BBC had hired consultants Bain & Co to review its funding strategy as executives prepare for a future without the licence fee. Nadine Dorries, the Culture Secretary, said the £159 annual licence fee would come to an end in 2027.