Is sending news correspondants around the world a waste?

Newswatch has recently brought to the attention of the general public alongside numerous broadcasts from the BBC, that news readers are being increasingly sent abroad to report on current affairs around the world today. However, the argument that has been generated among this hype has sparked off numerous debates.

According to Newswatch, in 2005, to date, an average of 35 million people watched some BBC Television News each week, making it the BBC’s most popular broadcast. This would therefore make it hardly surprising that they received thousands of complaints every years about the content of their show. Recently, these complaints have been flooding in regarding the amount of correspondents the BBC seems to be collecting – Scotland, Ireland, France, Germany, Wales, plus multiple for Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention the recent US election where presenters such as Bill Turnbull and Justin Webb were among many sent out.

First the question must be explored as to the purpose of their visit. Journalists do not simply appear in front of a blue screen for ten minutes with a projected image behind them for ten minutes at 6pm in time for the news, after a lie in and a late lunch, which is what many have been arguing. During the day journalists conduct much research into the current up to date situation regarding their news story, amongst filming snippets for the broadcasts, conducting interviews and writing blogs and newspaper articles.It is unfair to say, perhaps, that BBC correspondents are a waste of money in this sense, as they fail to engage in a satisfactory role, as it often clear to see with a little research, that they serve their purpose throughout their visit, giving a unique, personalised report from the epicentre of the breaking news.

On the other hand, the current environmental situation disagrees that this is a satisfactory was to help the world. Global warming debates that we should be cutting down on our air miles to not only reduce carbon emissions, but to also conserve a rapidly declining supply of fossil fuels such as oil. Surely the issuing of countless correspondents challenges the recommendations of the government and energy companies, and sets a poor example to the British public and the rest of the world?

Despite this, the argument still stands that 35 million Brits watch The BBC news a week, which is almost half of the population. This brings into the argument the point that, although it may be a costly and time consuming sending presenters to other countries, not to mention paying a price to the environment, it is a show that is seen by many people, and could be seen as ‘worth it’. The British public pay a licensing fee to watch the BBC channels which go towards shows like the news, but isn’t it a small price to pay to make an interesting, unique broadcast to add interest and liveliness to a show that is so widely watched throughout the country?

Furthermore, the clips that are shown to the public simply presents reporting in front of pictures which could have been done at home, fuelling the evidence that the BBC reports gain nothing from sending correspondents out. A recent example of this is during the US presidential election last week. On Tuesday evening, a presenter from London pointed out to Bill Turnbull in Washington; ‘if it’s 2am in Washington, why is the sun out?’ This points out the simplicity of the task of getting a background onto a broadcast, which could be done anywhere else. Why could this not be done in a studio in London and save some money?

However, the BBC does seem to value sending out these correspondents. Behind them, must be a valid reason, to add considerable input to the show. Clearly there is increased interest generated from listening to someone who is speaking from the country of which the story generated from, and provides a sufficient change of scenery for viewers, to keep them entertained, and regularly tuned in. This could also be used in later shows, interviews sold to other news channels and documentaries, which in the long run would save money for those, as they wouldn’t need to send another person out to carry out more filming.

Overall, the reactions of increasing numbers of BBC correspondents have been mixed. On one hand, there is increased interest, variety and uniqueness added to the shows being presented to a large audience, but on the other, it is seen as a waste of time, effort and money. In my opinion, the job of a journalist is to travel, to investigate, to report and broadcast, and what comes as part of the job, is being a correspondent in foreigncountries from time to time.

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Filed under Journalism, Media, Travel

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