Serious, in-depth journalism in broadcasting is "suffering from an almost complete lack of institutional support", according to former World In Action journalist Gavin MacFadyen .
Writing in the London-based Frontline Club's newsletter, he said: "Without a long-term commitment from the BBC and the independent sector, the public will continue to be deprived of an in-depth understanding of current affairs, investigation of the abuse of the public trust by governments, scrutiny of corporations, corrupt practices, and the continuing failures to protect integrity in the public sector."
MacFadyen, who is director of the Centre for Investigative Journalism's summer school, which took place last weekend, said: " Between 1966 and the early 1990s British television produced some of th e more extraordinary investigations in world television. It forced the resignation of senior government officials, exposed major pharmaceutical scandals, uncovered government corruption, corporate and financial crimes and brought images of slavery, child labour and torture into millions of homes for the first time….
"With audiences often over 12 million, programmes like World in Action and This Week were not seen as unprofitable. In contrast to current affairs programmes today, World in Action had in-house research facilities, libraries, crèches, in some cases private planes. It also had the confidence that if the company, or their programme, was in difficulty, their journalism would not be abandoned.
"Editors, cameramen, sound-recordists, electricians, researchers and travel offices all worked in-house. A significant feature of in-house production was the implicit understanding that with high standards of evidence, some stories wouldn't make it, despite months of work. The 20 percent of programmes that didn't make it were compensated for by the successful programmes that did.
None of these conditions apply today – almost all have been destroyed during the last 20 years. The result is an absence of institutional production and protection of investigative stories"
To apply for a copy of the Frontline newsletter, click here.