The short answer: Eventually
by Katie Delahaye Paine
As a complete news junkie, I will readily admit that scandals involving media outlets fascinate me in the same way that NASCAR fans love to watch cars go around and around a circle for hours. To others it may look boring, but we always hope there is one critical moment -- the journalistic equivalent of a ten-car pile up -- that makes it all worthwhile.
And the last year has been a good one for folks like me. The News of the World / Murdoch scandal distracted me for weeks. I probably read two dozen stories speculating on the implications of Fox’s Karl Rove election night debacle.
Now along comes a scandal at the highly regarded British Broadcasting Company. This is the venerated institution that keeps me company in the wee hours at home, and keeps me informed no matter where I am in the world. Alas that such a revered media icon should be dragged into the muck -- but I can't look away.
It started with revelations that Sir James "Jimmy" Savile, a long-time English media icon and BBC Top of the Pops host, routinely sexually abused young girls. The BBC was in the process of producing a documentary airing the facts when Savile died, and the investigative report was replaced with three tribute shows. A coverup perhaps?
Then, a week later, the BBC stumbled again by falsely accusing a former politician of child abuse based on unsubstantiated Internet posts. Although the Beeb did not actually identify conservative peer Lord McAlpine, it supplied enough details for others to be able to. Oops! Turns out the allegations were withdrawn once the accuser saw his photo.
In the wake of these events BBC Director General George Entwistle resigned after just two months on the job. And while that action signaled a willingness to change, lingering doubts about the stultified culture at the BBC are making the British public, who pay for the BBC via a licensing tax, question the entire institution. Read more here.
How could an organization with such a sterling reputation have a culture that allowed such foolish blunders? Shrinking budgets and individual bad apples are easy culprits to point the finger at, but they are not the real problem. Clearly this is an institution with a reputation that can only be saved by a radical rethinking and restructuring of its culture.
We wish the incoming Director General Tony Hall the best. If he wants to save the Beeb’s reputation, he needs to take bold action to identify and remove the cultural cancers that threaten its prestige and even its existence.
(Thanks to Studio Briefing for the image.)
Katie Delahaye Paine is the Chief Marketing Officer of News Group, a leader in international media monitoring and evaluation, as well as Chairman & Founder of Salience/KDPaine & Partners, the leader in integrated social and traditional communications measurement. Katie Paine is a dynamic and experienced speaker on public relations and social media measurement. Click here for the schedule of Katie’s upcoming speaking engagements. She writes KDPaine’s Measurement Blog and publishes The Measurement Standard. Katie and Beth Kanter are authors of the book “Measuring the Networked Nonprofit,” to published this year by Wiley.
The Measurement Standard is a publication of Salience/KDPaine & Partners, a company that delivers custom research to measure brand image, public relationships, and engagement. Katie Paine will be glad to talk with you about measurement for your organization.