The Daily Mail really is a nasty piece of work. But you didn’t need me to tell you that. However its latest tirade against the BBC raises some interesting points about the frustration faced by journalists trying to get a simple answer to a seemingly simple question.
The latest storm centres around the BBC’s Creative Director, Alan Yentob, who is also Chairman of the beleaguered charity Kids Company. It’s emerged that Yentob tried to intervene when Newsnight carried a story about Kids Co. During an impassioned interview on Channel Four News, Yentob denied that he’d abused his position and created a conflict of interest.
Regular visitors to the blog will know that I’m no fan of senior management. But the Mail’s Katherine Rushton decided to hook her two day old story by blaming bosses for being on holiday.
There’s an assumption by the Mail that Director General Tony Hall, news boss James Harding and Director of Strategy are somehow “doing nothing” or – as the Mail puts it – “failing” to curb Yentob.
Given the BBC’s apparent silence – and Ms Rushton’s glee in telling readers that the BBC Press Office said everything was as normal – it’s easy to swallow the Mail’s guff. But I’d be pretty amazed if conversations weren’t happening behind the scenes, at the highest level and, correctly, in private.
On Twitter I asked Katherine Rushton if she’d ever had a holiday during August. She replies : “I have, but I have to do a thing called making sure there is someone to cover me”. What? She does that personally?
So I decided to call the Daily Mail to ask who was in charge on a Saturday morning. I called the main reception number and asked to be directed to the press office. “There’s nobody here from the press office. We have one reporter on duty.”
i then asked who was in charge? Could it be the long standing Editor Paul Dacre? How could I contact him? I was given a generic email address for the “Managing Editor” and told there would be nobody who could speak to me in person.
Perhaps they’re on holiday, eh Katherine?