From the Editor - Will the BBC learn from its comms crisis?

'Sack them!' screamed the Daily Mail headline on Tuesday. Who did the Mail want sacked? Jonathan Ross, Russell Brand, the young producer of that ill-fated BBC Radio 2 show, the director-general himself Mark Thompson?

Danny Rogers
Danny Rogers

The answer, probably, is all of the above. The Mail doesn't much care for the BBC. Generally it sees Auntie as a liberal leftie organisation that doesn't deserve public money. It sees Ross as an overpaid, foul-mouthed London luvvie. And as for the lascivious, sexually ambiguous Brand, well...

This was the opportunity the Mail had been waiting for. Its hacks had already been angered by Ross' ill-advised comment, some time ago, that he was 'worth 100 journalists'. Brand's subsequent comments about the Mail, alleging that it supported fascism in the 1930s, hardly helped.

However, the consensus among the media is that the BBC did not help its own cause by 'failing to kill' the Mail on Sunday's original story early enough.

Is this fair? Well, in the BBC's defence, after the story broke on Sunday it put out a statement on Monday apologising to Andrew Sachs. However, journalists to whom I've spoken say that when they followed up the story on Sunday, they had a half-hearted response from the BBC press office.

Subsequently the BBC put up Tim Davie, director of audio and music, on the BBC News Channel, on Tuesday morning, admitting that the show should never have been broadcast.

It was not until Wednesday lunchtime that the director-general made his statement to suspend Ross and Brand.

It was of course a difficult judgement for the BBC's comms team to make. Should they have put a more senior executive up earlier for a full apology? Or would this simply have escalated the crisis?

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but these are the comms lessons that the BBC needs to learn quickly because such scrutiny will only increase and its reputation is its biggest asset.

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