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April 13, 2005
I depend on the BBC.
I'm not alone in this. Hundreds of millions of non-Brits do. The BBC's high quality and impeccable impartiality are what give the UK its continued relevance in the world.
But the BBC is in the midst of a brown-out.
The government-funded corporation is in the midst of a forced turnover plan. It's cutting staff now, but planning on hiring new staff later. It wants to get younger people with new ideas in the door, and get those who've grown stale out the door.
Sounds like a good idea. But meanwhile quality suffers. Especially in their reporting on tech issues.
Exhibit A is this political column by Alan Connor which claims Labour has gone in for "cyber-squatting." The party apparently hired Zack Exley, and Connor only remembers him from his taking the gwbush.org Web address and using it to attack the then-Governor of Texas. Thus, he calls Exley a "cyber-squatter" and dismisses the move.
This shows colossal ignorance. Exley has emerged as a very important political operative in the U.S. He practically built Move-on.org, then moved on to run John Kerry's online efforts. A few minutes of Googling would have revealed all this, but Connor was apparently too busy to do it.
Exhibit B is this story, Apple Bloggers get press support. This is a story the Beeb has been getting wrong from the start. The case at issue wasn't about blogging, but about the right of all journalists. The judge in the case said trade secrecy trumped any press shield, so journalists are trying to protect what privileges they claim they have.
These are two examples of a disquieting trend. Quality at the Beeb is declining, especially regarding tech issues. Nearly 10 years ago I was at BBC House advocating they build a Web site, and they've built a great one, so I feel a little proprietary about it.
Maybe we need to talk again.
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