Newsnight: it’s the outsourcing, stupid
If truth be told, I’m not that interested in the goings on at Newsnight and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, although the Sunday Mail’s coverage of an organisation which didn’t check the story was right before it broadcast is faintly amusing:
Among the bureau advisers are said to be Antony Barnett, NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear, John Kampfner and City’s outgoing head of journalism Adrian Monck.
Jeremy Dear left the NUJ in mid-2011. I don’t think they checked (see Alan Greenslade for a list of other innaccuracies).
However, the main thing that strikes me is that no-one seems to have noticed what Newsnight’s editorial failure is actually about.
It’s about a failure of outsourcing, in this case outsourcing by Newsnight to the Bureau.
If you are going to outsource properly, you have to set out contractual terms governing quality of performance, to replace the direct oversight you lose. Either the BBC didn’t do that properly, or the Bureau breached the terms of contract. It’s that simple. Either way, it shows up the risk inherent to outsourcing, which has to be balanced against any benefit you get – like a cheaper price, or innovative delivery – that you get from that outsourcing.
You know how the government, through the Olympics Authority (itself an outsourcing arrangement) failed to outsource its security arrangements properly? Well it’s like that, except that Sebastian Coe didn’t have to resign.