The recent Newsnight programme that lead to allegations of sexual abuse by a Tory grandee who’s name has been banded about on Twitter has led to the recently appointed Director General George Entwhistle being grilled on BBC radio 4’s Today programme and the Breakfast programme.
During the Today interview Entwhistle was pressed to consider his position, but he stood by his actions insisting that he had put in place procedures to ensure that all journalism was correctly scrutinised before transmission – but it only arrived on his desk after transmission – but clearly the BBC has not got to grips with how to use and control Twitter.
Much of this story hinges on a Tweet made prior to transmission that ignited the Twittersphere into a speculative frenzy – which inevitably began putting forwards the names that Newsnight had prudently not used.
So rather than progressing the cause of those poor unfortunate children who suffered in the hands of those who were supposed to be caring for them it has become an orgy of BBC self flagellation. The fact of the matter is that investigatory journalism always runs the risk of over stepping the mark – I am not sure that Newsnight did in it’s programme, however there needs to be better understanding of how social media can change a story in the main stream media.
To his credit Entwhistle seems to be saying ‘mea culpa’ and is taking responsibility for sorting the mess out – which is far from the easy option.
Lost in Care – If you are interested in the case that brought all this to light this is the link to the Waterhouse report on abuse of children in North Wales care homes in the 1970’s.