BBC journalists in Brighton, hometown of Journalism.co.uk, are taking part in today’s nationwide strikes at the corporation over compulsory redundancies. Staff at BBC Radio Sussex formed a picket outside the station’s offices on Queen’s Road this morning (1 August) from 4am, leaving management to find non-union staff to present the station’s programmes.
The mid-morning show, which airs from 9am-12pm, was produced at the Sussex offices by stand-ins and broadcast simultaneously by BBC Kent Radio.
There are no compulsory redundancies proposed at BBC Sussex, but Paul Siegert, the NUJ rep for the region, told Journalism.co.uk this morning he feared that the implementation of BBC’s Delivering Quality First Strategy could lead to cuts at the station.
“We know that there is a thing that BBC management are looking at at the moment called DQF, which we call Destroying Quality Forever, which is going to mean that there will be 20 per cent cuts across the BBC, and so we are expecting that there will be job cuts in places like this if we don’t take action now.”
Danielle Glavin, Siegert’s deputy at the Sussex chapel and West Sussex reporter for the station, said: “We are just trying to protect the BBC, otherwise it will be desolated”.
John Lees, the station’s sports correspondent, was outside the BBC Sussex building at 4am this morning to begin the picket, about the time he would arrive for work. His part of the show was presented by another member of staff this morning. He said that no union members had crossed the picket line in Sussex, and that the staff were “standing firm” in today’s strike and in the indefinite work to rule beginning tomorrow.
“Either you’re an NUJ member or you’re not, and if you are you’ve got to support to strike. And we do.”
Also among the picketers was Kathy Caton, a World Service employee on a year’s attachment in Sussex. Caton is among those to have already been made compulsorily redundant, and would have been forced out of the BBC last month if she had still been working out of the World Service offices at Bush House, London. Because of her attachment to BBC Sussex, she has a stay of execution until next June.
She told Journalism.co.uk that there is “simply no fat to cut away” at the local station.
“Everything is done on such a tight ship, and to achieve the cuts that the BBC has planned means losing jobs, losing services and losing programmes.
“But there’s no slack here, people aren’t sitting around eating foie gras and swilling it down with champagne. It’s a tight ship.”
Caton will see out her attachment in Sussex until June next year, and then join the other World Service staff forced out by the cutbacks. The BBC intends to make 100 staff compulsorily redundant, out of a total of 387 job cuts across the World Service and BBC Monitoring.
She praised the World Service as “one of the finest things that the BBC is involved in”.
“What it produces versus its annual cost is extraordinary. To kill it off so fundamentally is something future generations will look back on and despair.”
The BBC has defended the need to make compulsory redundancies in order to achieve the savings set out by last year’s comprehensive spending review. Lucy Adams, the corporation’s director of business operations, said in a message to staff today that the corporation could not agree to the union’s demands for no compulsory redundancies.
“Following the cuts in central Government grants to the World Service and BBC Monitoring we have had to close 387 posts, meaning that regrettably there are nearly 100 staff who as a result are facing compulsory redundancy. We have been working with all these affected staff to ensure that they have opportunities for redeployment and retraining but we cannot and will not give preferential treatment to individuals depending on their union status.
“We hope the NUJ will realise that these issues are best solved at a local level, and a national strike that penalises all our audiences is not in the interests of their members, other BBC staff or licence fee payers.”
In this video interview on Beet.TV Matthew Cavnar, head of product at Vook, a company which creates video books, talks about its collaboration with ABC News to produce a ‘vook’ which combines its text and video reporting of significant events.
Recent publications produced by Vook and ABC News, which Cavner claims offers the “360 degree experience of a news story”, includes the capture of Osama Bin Laden and the royal wedding in London.
Cavner added that while the company is looking at extending the platform out to partners, for now it is concentrating on its uses in-house.
Right now we’re really focused on going to a media company, going to a publisher, and saying we’ve got the platform … come work with us and create 50, 100, 1,000 titles because we’ve got the ability to do it.
… We think we’re basically cornering that market of scalable quality.
The BBC is to make hundreds of hours of recordings of its Reith Lectures available in a new online archive.
The archive will include 240 recordings made over the past 60 years and a transcript of every lecture since 1948, when the series began. The lectures were named after Lord Reith, the BBC’s first director general, who created them as a “stimulus to thought and contribution to knowledge”.
Notable lecturers over the years have included philosopher Bertrand Russell, who gave the inaugural Reith Lecture in 1948, Dame Margery Perham, fellow of Nuffield College, Oxford, who became the first female lecturer in 1961, and Robert Gardiner in 1965, executive secretary of the United Nation’s European Commission for Africa, who became the first black Reith Lecturer in 1965.
Other famous speakers include American atomic energy scientist and Manhattan project chief J Robert Oppenheimer, and Israeli pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim.
This year’s Reith Lecturers will be Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and former director-general of MI5 Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller.
While trying to assemble the archive, the BBC discovered that some of the audio recordings from the first 30 years of the lectures are missing, and the broadcaster has appealed to members of the public to send in any recordings they have.
Andrew Caspari, BBC head of Speech Radio and Classical Music Interactive, said: “This is a unique collection of stunning intellectual significance. Making our great programmes of the past available permanently is a vital role for Radio 4’s digital offer.”
Aung San Suu Kyi’s lectures will be broadcast on Radio 4 at 9am on June 28 and July 5. Eliza Manningham-Buller’s Reith Lectures will be broadcast at 9am on September 6, 13, and 20.
Al Jazeera this week confirmed the launched its new social media show The Stream, which will aggregate stories from online sources and discussions.
The broadcaster claims the show is “the first of its kind” and demonstrates its “commitment to using new media as a key source for news and information”.
At the media140 conference last week, Al Jazeera’s head of social media Riyaad Minty spoke about the value of online sources such as bloggers within the country before and during the revolutions. He said that at its peak Al Jazeera’s citizen media platform Sharek was receiving up to 1,600 videos per day, prompting the broadcaster to work on building its resources to dealing with, and verifying, this material.
The Stream, which launched this week in beta form with broadcasting due to begin in May, will monitor activity on the web and use live breaking accounts to present its viewers “with real-time development from around the world” a release said.
There is also a microsite for the show which “will allow the conversation to continue 24-hours per day”.
Visitors are encouraged to take part in the editorial direction of the show by adding comments and links and will have the opportunity to watch the final programming preparations in the five minutes before the show goes live on air.
The BBC has announced it will cut the role of deputy director general, making current incumbent Mark Byford redundant. Byford took up the post in 2004 and has been at the BBC for 32 years.
Speaking in a release, BBC director general Mark Thompson says:
We have concluded – and Mark fully accepts – that the work he has done to develop our journalism and editorial standards across the BBC has achieved the goals we set to such an extent that the role of deputy director-general can now end, that the post should close at the end of the current financial year, and that Mark himself should be made redundant.
Byford will step down from the corporation’s executive board at the end of March and depart from the BBC in early summer. Helen Boaden. director, BBC News, will join the executive board to represent BBC Journalism in April.