By John Charles Dyer, UK Correspondent
It is rarely as much fun for a publicly funded news agency to report the ambiguity of fact -- or a politician to deal with the loose ends of sometimes awkward and inconvenient but necessary action -- as it is to pander to unfounded hopes or cherished prejudices. It’s never a win-win and kind of feels like going to the dentist.
A little nudge
We all sometimes need a little nudge to help us do so. So I’ve decided to help BBC and David Cameron with a nudge. The nudge takes the form of a Daily Report Card on issues that languish unaddressed or unresolved.
The format of the Daily Report Card is a series of Tweets on Twitter to David Cameron and the BBC, “copied” to Nick Clegg, Ed Milliband, the BBC Trust and the Channel 4 News Team. These tweets call attention to issues which in my honest opinion (to use the lingo) languish, inadequately reported by the BBC and inadequately addressed if at all by David Cameron.
You may ask yourself, why the two together, Dyer?
There is sometimes a remarkable degree of similarity between BBC and David Cameron in describing some issues. For example, Office of National Statistics reports monthly estimates of employment and unemployment. Just 15 January I reported what I considered misleading claims concerning these ONS reports contained in both BBC’s analysis and David Cameron’s claims during Prime Minister’s Questions. On 23 January both BBC and David Cameron simultaneously changed how they packaged their claims in - it seems to me -- exactly the same way and word choice. I don’t mean to be paranoid. I'm not suggesting conspiracy. I just notice they both suffer from the same misapprehensions I will detail subsequently. So I choose to inform both of this outstanding issue on the same report.
Well, then, why the BBC Trust?
It is the job of the BBC Trust to safeguard the license payer's interests. It is decidedly not the Trust's job for the Trust to interfere in editorial policy. Indeed, it would be wrong. I certainly wouldn’t want that. But it is the responsibility of the Trust to monitor BBC to ensure the interests of the license payer and the public generally are safeguarded. It is appropriate for the Trust to nudge BBC regarding issues of concern to the license payers. The rest is editorial decision and entirely the responsibility -- and the accountability -- of management. I copy BBC Trust so it is informed of the ongoing concern of at least this license payer.
And Channel 4 News Team?
The Channel 4 News team is IMHO the most perceptive and thorough television news team in the UK. Together they remind me of the old Huntly-Brinkley-John Chancellor era at NBC. They cover the issues the Daily Report Card covers. It seems to me only appropriate everybody knows what everybody else knows. There isn’t room on a Tweet to include ITV and Sky news so I exercised some editorial discretion.
What sorts of issues does the Daily Report Card cover?
As of this writing the Daily Report Card nudges include the unaddressed recommendations of the Leveson Report. It appears to too many that the entire issue has been "kicked into the long grass" all too traditional for such reports.
The DRC also reminds all of the grass growing under the report of Tyrie’s special committee on banking . Regular readers may remember I reported on this special committee some months ago in conjunction with the LIBOR scandal. The committee wrapped up its business in December, finding that planned banking reforms do not go far enough to adequately address the problem.