Written by Media, Radio

Poor Journalism This Sunday

Finding poor journlism in the Sunday papers isn’t really hard, but The Observer had this story in yesterday’s paper. It begins:
Media regulator Ofcom warned BBC bosses about lax editorial procedures on Russell Brand’s BBC 6 Music show over a year ago, it emerged last night. In a ruling published 15 months ago, it criticised the corporation for failing to follow its own editorial procedures and allowing Brand to broadcast a quiz won by a member of his production team posing as a listener to the digital radio station. [My emphasis] Hang on. Nothing “emerged last night”. Basically, this story seems to have come about by someone Googling the Ofcom website in the hunt for material on Russell Brand or Jonathan Ross.
What The Observer has simply dug up is the small matter of all the competition faking has now been fully [un]covered over the last 18 months. This didn’t so much “emerge” as hit newspaper front and inside pages a year or so ago now. This isn’t new news. Every single interested reader already knows about this.
At the end of July this year, the BBC was fined £400,000 by Ofcom including £17,500 for the Russell Brand show. At the time, the show was still being made by the BBC and not Brand’s independent production company. And I’d hazard a guess that the producer was different at the time (it referred to an incident that took place in April 2006 when Brand was still on 6 Music).
Let me re-iterate: this fine or the details behind it didn’t emerge last night. It was published on 31 July this year – three full months ago. Note to Observer journos: Ofcom has a free mailing list. They’ll email you this stuff as it comes out. I highly recommend it. Alternatively, they could have read all the coverage at the time.
I’m pretty sure that I didn’t accidentally pick up the Mail on Sunday yesterday in place of The Observer (there wasn’t a free Cliff Richard CD after all), so quite why The Observer is publishing such lazy journalism as this inexplicable.
This was an entirely different kind of breach, and as can be seen from the list and the extensive press reports we’ve had over the last eighteen months, it affected everything from Blue Peter to Jo Whiley to Children in Need.
Look, I know that editorial floors around the country are desperately trying to keep the Brand/Ross story alive. Our fearless investigators will undoubtedly be attending every gig Brand performs at for the next six months, and burlesque troops around the capital will have more fans than usual at the stage door. But I buy a quality Sunday to find out – you know – important stuff going on in the world, not warmed up stuff that everyone else reported three months ago.