tv The Media Show BBC News August 7, 2021 4:30pm-5:01pm BST
hello. this is bbc news with shaun ley. the headlines: gold medal number 20 for team gb — asjoe choong takes top spot in the men's modern pentathlon there's a bronze forjosh kerr in the men's 1500 metres — britain's first medal in the event since 1988 boxing gold for galal yafai — as he wins in the flyweight division for team gb. success in the pool, too. tom daley earning bronze in the 10 metre platform diving — his second medal of the games. in afghanistan, the taliban say they've captured their second provinincial capital in 2a hours.
britain and the us warn their citizens to leave the country immediately. a volunteer firefighter has died as wildfires spread across greece, with thousands being moved from their homes to the north of athens. and the tiny bat who beat records by flying more than 1200 miles across europe. now on bbc news, the media show with clive myrie. hello. no, don't adjust your set — this is the media show on the bbc. but that theme tune to news at ten and the famous bongs are part of our popular culture, along with the high angle sweep across london over the rooftops along the thames to meet the face of big ben.
all that is part of the iconography of british television news, but who watches the big network bulletins these days? more and more gen z—ers and millennials are increasingly moving online to get their news and information. some older demographics, too, are attracted to more partisan, opinionated platforms. gb news, i'm looking at you. even some politicians are openly disparaging of what they call the mainstream media. so, how can itv�*s news at 10 and channel 4 news, with a soon—to—be—departing jon snow, win audiences back? is it a lost cause in this fractured multimedia age in which we live, or can trust be regained? well, if anyone's got an idea, it'd better be my next guest — deborah turness, the boss of itn, overseeing news on itv, channel 4 and channel 5, reaching around 10 million people a day and, on top of all that, having to deal with a financial black hole that would
give anyone nightmares. deborah turness, welcome to the media show. it's good to be here. thank you very much for inviting me to be on your show. let's begin with a quickfire round. where do you get your evening news? what do you watch? i watch, of course, the output of my own platforms because that's, of course, a critical part of myjob and i always did anyway. so, i watch itv news, i watch news at 10 probably a bit more than evening news because i'm often still working for the evening news. i'll catch up on the itv hub for that. i watch channel 4 news, i watch channel 5 news, i also look at bbc news at ten as well, and the next day, i will check in on the american bulletins as well because it's just a habit i've had over the last decade and it's hard to reel yourself away from it. you've got an impressive cv — the first woman editor of a network tv news show in the uk when you took the reins at itv news. you then moved to america to head up nbc news, and later become president of nbc, one of america's big three networks.
what made you want to get into journalism in the first place? you know, when i was about 15, i started volunteering on a local newspaper site that was looking for a reporter in local schools to talk about what was going on in the school. it was the hitching and stevenage gazette, and i started really enjoying it. and then, i went from there to start doing local music reviews of a local music venue that often attracted some quite good bands, and realised i could get good access behind the scenes and start doing exciting things, even at the age of16, 17. by the time i was at college, i started making plans to launch a student radio station. i did some articles for the london student newspaper, and itjust grew from there, really. then i was given the opportunity for my year abroad, because i did part of my degree in french, to go and do a postgrad journalism course at border university.
and i spent a year there, and i was completely smitten and i was completely focused on that as my career path. and from there, i was able to do my work experience, not for the french media, but i went to itn and worked for nothing in the paris bureau, as then was. and that was my kind of side door way into itn. yeah, you helped jon snow, i understand, cover a french presidential election. i did, you're very well informed. it was one of those moments, it was a sliding door moment. i was kind of working for nothing, making the tea, etc, and thenjon snow's producer fell ill and he needed somebody to go to the south of france — we were in paris at the time — to go coverjacques chirac�*s rally. it was the eve of the election, and he was the prime minister and he was standing to be president against francois mitterrand, and he just released the french
hostages from beirut that day. he'd used his power as prime minister to potentially persuade the french electorate to vote for him. these french hostages were national services and they'd been incarcerated in beirut for a very long time. national news bulletins every night started with their faces and the number of days that they have been incarcerated. and i went down to southern france to meet up with the crew. i was 21 at the time, 22, and managed to get an exclusive interview with jacques chirac and english. jon snow made it his lead story, and he pledged to support me and help me get into itn, so he did. ok, so from blocking off corridors and getting exclusive interviews with french leading politicians, you worked your way up to become head of itv news in 200a. how different was the itv newsroom then, do you think, compared to now?
that's a really great question. i think what's wonderful about the itv newsroom is that it continues to be a place of absolute commitment to finding out the truth, to giving up stories that others aren't digging up. there's a real sense of family and that newsroom, and i think if you just look at robert moore, he's exclusive on the capital, in january this year, he was the onlyjournalist in the world who was actually with those capitol hill writers of as they went into the capitol building, and he told their story from the inside. having invested a great deal of time, energy and journalism, he got to know the movement, where they hung out and how they communicated, in a way even american media had not. i think that story alone tells us
that the itv newsroom of today still embodies those values of really agile journalism. the greatest scoops comes through because they're about knowing where the story is in following your gut instinct, and that's what robert did and that's what manyjournalists continue to do today. that's a rich, deep heritage whether you are looking at paying marshall's exclusive at camps in many before her, that's what itv news does. i'm proud to say that robert moore is an old mate of mine, and we've spoken to him here on the media show about that scope. it was incredible journalism. indeed, you had several scoops yourself. including the 2005 exclusive pictures of the capture of the 77 london bombers. i wonder how that story came to you.
the best scoops you get are the ones that really give you the element of surprise, and i remember that day so vividly. so, obviously, just after the 77 horrendous attacks in london, where so many people lost their lives, and everybody was on edge. then came this news that there was a raid happening in these flats in west london. we dispatch our crews and no one knew what was going on, but we were hearing all sorts of sounds and stun grenades and military action going on. but nobody knew what was going on. then we got a call onto the news desk from somebody who actually lives in the flats and had literally a front view of everything happening as the special forces came in and raided the flats and arrested the terrorists.
and this guy has recorded everything. and i wanted footage, he wanted money for it, and it had value. so we got into negotiation, and then abc, the american broadcasters, came in and just blew my offer to this guy for his footage out of the water. they put so much money on the table. i basically called the daily mail. an acquaintance that he couldn't afford this, how can we do this together?
mount a joint bid. i think the tapes were thrown out of the back of the flat into a garden. my producer how to climb over walls to get the tapes and then we had to transfer them because it was the guy's on camera. james, one of our amazing correspondents, turned around in time for the evening news. this unbelievable scoop. no one had a scrap of picture. it had dominated every media platform and around the world, and baying, evening news, headlines exclusive, there is. you talked about robert moore saying the best scoops are free. you paid for this one. how much? i don't know how much i for paid. more than i can afford. six figures? i'm not going to go there! i can't even remember.
be surprise how low my digits were. i won't talk about the money here. it was definitely worth it. when you ran itv news, and there is a school of thought that that's the period — i'm not laying all of this at your door, absolutely not — but that's the period mainstream media lost touch with ordinary people. and estrangement that failed to predict the brexit vote ultimately, or borisjohnson's 80 seat majority in 2019. it was probably a long time coming up to that decade, but do you think that's fair? do you think that's when the rubber did hit the road and many of the members of the public felt
they wanted their news elsewhere? i felt that itv news as a brand that has always been in touch with its audience and has been recognised for that connectivity. i think it comes up through it's rich roots through itv, operation with really considerable grassroots journalism across the country. i think that does feet up and into the kind of news that itv news is. while i do recognise that overall, the media lost touch with some members of the audience, i think that impacted itv news a little less than others, if i'm honest. let's talk about the states. you left across the board to america in 2013. much bigger market, bigger budgets, bigger headaches. for those tuning and who don't know their way around the american media landscape, where would you position nbc news?
nbc news is impartial. politically, it doesn't have a point of view. it's interesting because i know you've spoken about the fairness in the us, and i'm with you in terms of when ronald reagan did away with the doctrine to make way for right wing talk radio. and this was the rule that meant that all broadcasters, in order to have a night licence, they had to give all points of view on a particular issue. it change the landscape and pave the way for fox news and msnbc and other news entity with approach. even though there isn't the kind of regulation we have in this country, nbc news invests very heavily to be impartial, to see all sides and does it because that's a point of pride.
that's how they've always done it. and won't be went up on without fear or favour. but that's tricky in the age of donald trump. nbc coincided with the rise of the donald, as it were. that must have been a nightmare to report on this man who the washington post reckons lied or made misleading statements more than 30,000 times during his presidency. it was really hard. during the campaign, as he was becoming a force to be reckoned with, the challenge was not only how to not spend your entire programme fact checking what he said, but an even greater danger i felt was how not to allow your programme to be consumed by the latest tweets.
there was news to carry and important issues to cover, and the circus which is high—octane in any american election cycle, was off the chart. sorry to interrupt, but do you think you should have called him out earlier? that coincided with your time when he laid the foundation for this reality of truth, should you and others have called him out earlier? look, i think his rhetoric became more complex and darker as he went on. did we call him out enough? you aren't the only ones. it's hard to be thejudge. but he was good for the business as well. i think that was something... there are famous quotes around
others, not me, and i think it drove on cable channels. not necessarily on the platforms i was driving, so i was never in a position where i felt i was trying to exploit the donald trump phenomenon for ratings gain, and we always try to balance. but i will say i think where we didn't get it right — and we talked about it after the election — was not only to not see him coming, but to have listened to the electorate. i think the problem is that problem still prevails because... it's because nobody else was listening, nobody else was talking to those people. to understand, which is why that story was missed. i think it's the exact same circumstances. there's a sort of lack
of learning several years on. a point well put. we're going to shuttle back over to the uk now. you're the chief of it and, ultimately the boss of itv news. how much they did theyjournalism do you get involved with? do you sign off controversial stories? i have to say, i'm almost not involved with journalism. i'm up here on the fifth floor, and i'm... there's a morning editorial briefing at ten o'clock to 1015, where each of the news services talks about what they've got on that day —— 10:15am. so you let them get on with it? yes, i really do. you're saying that in a way as if you don't believe me!
go into your business and they will say they can't believe how hands—off editorial is. actually, she's not. how much sharing of resources takes place? so, nobody in the world does what's itn does, to run three incredibly distinctive news services. and yet, to do it with an economy of scale at the back end that makes it cost—effective so that you can really focus enough of your budgets on covering the news, investing in destinations. yes, there's the building, there's the massive engineering infrastructure. studios and supports, edit vehicles, satellite feeds, travel — all that stuff that is noncompetitive that needs to be there. the it and all of that.
the newsrooms themselves are completely independent under separate editors, separate producers, separate news presenters, the teams in the field. of course, when you're in the field, you help each other out or support each other as colleagues. but there is an emphasis on keeping the final product as distinct as possible? 1000%. absolutely. we are brothers and sisters but for enemies. we talk about what we're doing in front of each other. for many, many years, we've actually managed to walk that tight rope and it works, it really, really works.
how much of an overlap is there with the audience? forgive me on this, a crude summary might suggest that itv is for traditional viewers, perhaps older audiences. channel 4 is for younger, left—leaning audiences, perhaps more social media savvy. channel 5 viewers are waiting for the next pop history documentary to start. that's quite stereotyping of the audience is, i would say. not too hard. itv uses match of reach —— massive reach in terms of how many consumers it reaches. both in tv and digital. serving up a broader... channel 4 news goes more in depth, as more investigations, it focuses on issues around social justice and on foreign affairs, so if that's your my of the that's... five has carved out a niche. serving a tea—time audience.
very interested in the scenes of ordinary people. they are running a really big series on long covid on how that impacted people. they do more on that than anybody else. each has its own target audience, but i'm sure there are some people that watch all three. what's distinctive about channel for, as far as the government is concerned, it's a little bit left wing. why do you think that? i think channel 4 news must be noted has never once been found against by 0fcom in the impartiality rulings. that's an important point to make. it really is. it covers with impartiality.
is it robust? yes. is it uncompromising? yes. they asked the toughest question sometimes because that's what their brand is all about. as you know, in a world of finite, it's very hard when you have a half—hour to tell the world's story. when you have an hour, you just have that extra beat to go deeper and asked the second and third follow—up question. but i think you're talking about privatisation and the move currently is about economics. it's about the longer—term protection of channel 4 is the government sees it. are you confident that you can keep that independence with all the talk of privatisation? look, we have to. we are...
impartial ourselves on the model for channel 4, but what we're not impartial about is channel 4 news. it is the most critical part of channel 4's remix, and the most recognised and awarded news programme in britain. it goes out there and does more world changing impactful journalism than any other news programme there is. it reaches more young people on social platforms than any other news programme. it's incredibly important to the plurality of this country. it's a very important piece of our media lamp eight —— landscape. if channel 4 is privatised, we will fight for it to be protected. i have no reason to believe the government will protect it. i do believe this government understands and recognises the importance of channel 4 news. i do think they recognise it and i think ourjob is to make sure the journalism speaks for itself.
we continue to break exclusives and change the world, and i think we look to see if we can enhance the remixing of future arrangement. i think there are models out there that point to how you can protect news. i was at comcast when they acquired sky, and they signed up to a ten year guarantee of sky news's budget. and an independent editorial board which protects sky's editorial independence. i think there are models there if we're serious about it, so we're going to be putting some of that into our submission for dcms consultation. how are you able, for instance, to deal with what the telegraph reported last month. 164 point million pound pension deficit, how do you deal with that?
it's no secret that itn has a pension deficit, and in fact, the telegraph asked me about that and said doesn't trouble me that ultimately, profit we would generate would go into filling the pension deficit. for me, i think it's an overhaul. people are motivated for different reasons. the people at the guardian feel less motivated because of trust? we must work very hard to make sure the pension deficit is kept alive. finally, you've worked in news your whole career. it is where most people get their news from, programmes like news at 10 and channel 4 news. how long do you think that can remain the case, that most people get their news
from television and not migrate online or elsewhere? i think the death of television news has been oft predicted, but it hasn't happened yet. i think what needs to happen is that great brands, whether they are itv or individual brands, will migrate with the audience. and they will go where the audience goes, and they must do that, and that's one of the things that i hopefully am here to make happen. so, i would like to predict the final demise of the militant, and the best of them will migrate in different formats —— bulletin. with those brands and tacked onto new platforms with their audiences. debra turness, thank you very much indeed for your time today. thank you very much, clive.
the media show will be back the same time next week. thanks for listening. bye— bye. hello. not much change for today with a front for today and tomorrow. a lot of cloud, gusty winds in places. scattered downpours across the uk, particularly northern parts of the country, they are likely to continue into the evening hours, through to sunday and into monday as well. quite a cool picture across the uk. low pressure on top of us is slow—moving, gradually moving to the east and the north—east.
this is bbc news — these are the latest headlines in the uk and around the world. the us and britain warn their remaining citizens in afghanistan to leave as the taliban continue their advance, seizing a second provincial capital. hundreds are evacuated by ferry in greece, as firefighters continue to battle an unprecedented outbreak of wildfires. india's first ever track and field gold medal at the olympics — neeraj chopra wins the javelin and ends a 100—year wait for glory. and it's gold medal number 20 for team gb — asjoe choong takes top spot in the men's modern pentathlon
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