Radio or TV? BBC business next for selection process

The BBC’s business and economics journalists are next in line for the sort of shake-up which last year saw social affairs staff picked for roles in either television or radio.

A review will begin this spring and from late summer journalists will be expected to focus on one discipline and be assigned to work on specific daily news programmes.

The shake-up follows the arrival of Jeff Randall as business editor with news staff taking up director-general Greg Dyke’s call for increased business coverage.

Although Randall will take part in the review, the decision to carry it out was made before his appointment ­- a fact the BBC was keen to stress to deflect criticism of his immediate impact at the corporation.

"He’s aware that it will come out as, ‘Essex boy axes middle-class people and brings in barrow boys and Asian babes’," said one senior source.

Among those whose jobs will come under the review are Greg Wood, internet business correspondent and a regular face on the Ten O’Clock News, Stephen Evans, industry and employment correspondent, Rory Cellan-Jones, Peter Day and Karen Hogan.

The move further dismantles the bi-media policy introduced by former director-general John Birt. In the social affairs unit the reorganisation sparked anger among some journalists who claimed it amounted to a "beauty contest".

But a senior source dismissed the claims, saying "not everyone on TV news now is exactly an oil painting".

A BBC spokesman said the move would allow news editors and their teams to build better working relationships with reporters.

"It has obvious benefits if people know the programme for which they are working and can get to know who they are working with," he said.

One insider said that although the beauty contest tag had been misleading, the shake-up showed that some journalists were being groomed for success.

He added that under the old bi-media approach everyone had been encouraged to aim to be on the big news bulletins, particularly the Ten O’Clock News. "The problem is they were all told it was possible and all told to go for it, but we have ended up with some people on TV who just aren’t very good," he said.

 

by Julie Tomlin

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