This week, Roger Cook was the latest journalist to publicly bemoan the state of television investigations in the UK.
Speaking at Coventry University on Thursday, as part of the ‘Coventry Conversations’ line-up, Cook expressed anxiety for the future of investigative journalism, the craft which made his name.
“Many investigative programmes can’t afford it now, the management and the commissioners seem to think that it is too much like hard work, and that it takes a lot of backing up.”
Asked about current investigative reporters, and the approach they commonly use, Cook answered “I think audiences aren’t stupid, and they very quickly recognise who a programme is being done for.”
“ Is it for the people in it, or the man presenting it?” he asked.
“We are going up into the ether where there are no regulations, so you will have to believe less and less of what you see,” he said, in relation to potential issues arising from making internet-based documentaries.
Cook also expressed his disapproval at this week’s cost-cuts and recent editorial direction at ITV. “In my view they are doing the wrong thing” he stated. ”Take money out of programmes and fewer people watch it, compounding the downward cycle.”
Cook, who has been a journalist for over forty years, remembers a time when ITV would invest vast amounts of money into factual programmes, such as his very own Cook Report.
“It was once a great institution,” he said. ”There was very high quality production in every area, but factual just about disappeared; the last remaining regular factual programme was mine.”
ITV should ‘spend more money on programmes and less on personalities,’ he said.
“ How many programmes could you make if you didn’t employ Simon Cowell or Ant and Dec?” he asked.