BBC’s news coverage of sport looks to be in for fundamental change following last week’s announcement by director general Mark Thompson of wide-ranging job cuts across the corporation. Sports editor Mihir Bose and reporters including Adam Parsons and James Munro are to move departments, from BBC News to BBC Sport.
According to a report in The Guardian, this will mean that Bose – recruited only last year to bolster the quality and quantity of sport reported by BBC News – and his sports reporting colleagues will come under the management of head of sport Roger Mosey, rather than news chief Peter Horrocks.
This will in effect mean that the same BBC department that is, say, negotiating with the FA or the Premier League over future football broadcasting rights for programmes such as Match of the Day, will also be expected to deliver news stories about the FA’s business affairs and other issues.
This has long been a dilemma for sports broadcasters who express serious intent about delivering journalism. Mosey made sports journalism a priority for his department when he took the head of sport job two years ago.
In a speech made last year, Mosey said: “Sports Journalism must strive for the same range and quality as the rest of BBC News
“At its bluntest, this is saying that our sport journalism hasn’t had the reputation we want for it â€“ either in its range or its ambition. It’s not saying it’s all hopeless because much of it is very good indeed: our website, Radio 5 Live and a lot of what we do on television. “
Mosey was influential in the appointment of SJA member Bose as the BBC’s first sports editor – equivalent to the long-established BBC politics editor or business editor roles – and he also oversaw the introduction of weekly magazine show Inside Sport.
Yet does the Gabby Logan vehicle betray the fundamental problem with BBC Sport’s handling of sports news? Early in its first series, the programme delivered a soft-focus interview with Sepp Blatter about the opening of Fifa’s multi-million dollar new headquarters in a piece that looked as if it had checked in its journalistic credentials at the front door.
Yet this week, Panorama – banned by Fifa for reporting uncomfortable details of its contracts and its officials’ corruption – used the same Fifa headquarters footage as part of its latest investigation into financial malpractice at football’s world governing body.
Inside Sport is a BBC Sport production. Panorama is not.
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