i Editor's Letter: Mistakes happen in every walk of life


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The Independent Online


To Belfast yesterday for the first time to attend the Society of Editors conference. Sadly, I didn't see much of the city due to a combination of the flying nature of the visit and the absolutely shocking weather.

Odd to be in a room full of editors with such a strong feeling that a really big story was happening elsewhere. The SoE's president herself, the BBC's head of newsgathering Fran Unsworth, was called away overnight for reasons which are now obvious. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism's now ex-editor Iain Overton also cried off.

After Leveson, Savile and the Newsnight debacle, 2012 is the year that the media ate itself. It is not over yet. We await soon the publication of the Leveson report. The press may get another kicking, but it is certain there will be yet more self-analysis, point-scoring and playing blame games.

It is an unedifying spectacle. Yes, it matters, but I am not sure that it matters to you quite as much as we think it does, certainly not as much as it matters to us. We need to get back on the front foot and shout about the good British journalism does in a society where freedom of information is in diminishing supply.

We also need to put a stop to the current witch-hunt. Newsnight is one of the world's finest current affairs programmes. A mistake or mistakes was or were made. It happens in every walk of life, without exception. Heads have rolled, inquiries are under way. Let's have an end to all the self-interested calls for a halt to the programme itself. And let's give Tim Davie a real chance to "get a grip" and reaffirm the BBC as the source of good that it is.