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BBC strike is bad news for public service broadcasting

Peter Preston

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The Observer
7 November 2010

Some 64 journalists around the world have been killed in action this year, the latest figures show. They put themselves in harm's way because they believed that news is a precious, perishable commodity. And public service newsmen, of course, believe that more passionately than most. Cue another paean to the wonders of BBC journalism.

But what happens in yet another pensions ruckus after all the corporation's unions but one have accepted an improved, negotiated offer? The National Union of Journalists calls a strike. No in-depth news. No Today interrogators asking questions. No Kirsty or Paxo on patrol.

The NUJ rep at the Millbank political coverage centre seemed to sum everything up when he pushed for a first strike on the Tory conference's big day a few weeks back. "The UK's healthy media will ensure that the [Conservative] message gets out," he said. In short, turn to ITN, or Sky – we're just one voice amongst many. The crucial defenders of BBC independence – of the point of the entire exercise – are its staff. How glum to find them chucking it away.

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