These are dark times for journalism. The web has pulverised beyond recognition what was once a secure business model; the dead tree press could once control not just the dissemination of news, but the news agenda itself. No more. Blogs (guilty, m'lud!), Facebook & Twitter have changed all that.
It's not exactly a bowl of cherries at the BBC either. Whilst the likes of the Daily Mail won't be happy until the Beeb ceases to exist & we have to rely on the likes of said rag & a Foxed Sky News, some of the Corporation's travails have been self-inflicted.
So who will step forward to dispense some words of wisdom to Auntie?
The Oldham Echo.
Yes, the Oldham Echo (http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/views/our-view/2009/10/30/bbc-needs-to-concentrate-on-quality-not-ratings-100252-25047949/).
The editorial applauds the recent decision to cut the number of senior management staff & reduce the wage bill. It goes on helpfully:
"Now, we suggest, it's time for director general Mark Thompson to turn his attentions to the broadcaster's planning strategy.
"The ECHO still values the BBC as a trustworthy brand and reliable provider of news and information, but its role as a public service broadcaster needs to extend to providing more content which is simply not assessed on a commercial basis."
The Echo editorial refers to "reality" TV & the usual Saturday evening fodder, stating that the commercial & cable channels should produce such output, not the BBC. It concludes reproachfully:
"The BBC, through the licence fee, is provided with so much public money but, in return, it isn't providing the public with enough quality."
Ah, yes, quite right. Quality, that's the key consideration, isn't it?
Moreover, the Oldham Echo should be commended for highlighting the need for quality in the media; indeed, a case in point was provided by its editorial earlier this week which reminded us of the truly cerebral concerns we should think of: (http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/views/our-view/2009/10/26/katie-and-andre-it-s-too-much-100252-25012775/ ).
It may hearten the aesthetes & classicists on Oldham Hall Street to know that the Beeb's more considered & challenging output is gaining a new audience (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/oct/29/radio-4-10-year-listener-high ).
It's nice to know that the Oldham Echo's "truth project" & "positivity programme", now a year old (http://condensedthoughts.blogspot.com/2008/10/jjonah-jamison-speaks-out.html ) are yielding a burgeoning consciousness of higher thoughts.
Of course, let us not forget that Oldham Hall Street once tried its hand at broadcasting via its Channel One network. It was a true beacon of public service broadcasting, focusing on those aspects of cultural discourse normally the preserve of Radios 3 & 4.
Here's an example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9k6HycML1Tc .
Peerless, simply peerless.