Inside the BBC, carefully hidden divisions are now being exposed

Click to follow
The Independent Online

"Andrew Gilligan was not our journalist," a BBC colleague said yesterday. "He was the Today programme's journalist and to that extent it is their problem."

The first days of evidence in the Hutton inquiry have exposed divisions in the BBC news operation that have long been there but were cleverly concealed by the united front the organisation took at the start of the affair.

BBC news is a large and diverse entity with intense competition between journalists working not just in different media but between almost every station and programme.

"We see ourselves as very, very different from the Today programme," one BBC television journalist said. "We are equally different from Newsnight. The One [O'Clock News], the Six and the Ten consider themselves different too."

Each programme has a different editor, a different brief, and for the most part, its own team of journalists. In recent years, the competition for exclusives has become increasingly fierce and some programmes will turn to outside news organisations for material or assistance rather than ask a rival BBC operation.

The first week of evidence to the inquiry has been the dominant topic of conversation through the BBC and the newspaper coverage has been pored over and dissected. There is an understanding that the outcome of the inquiry has implications for the reputation of the BBC and little sympathy will be shown to colleagues who made mistakes.

The television journalist said: "I would say that if it's shown that a journalist embellished or made things up and the credibility of the BBC as an organisation is affected by that, then that's annoying. That person should be sacked."

BBC news staff not directly involved in the story are doing everything they can to distance themselves from the affair, not least because they want to report it objectively.

Comments