A piece by Matthew Moore, Media Correspondent, in today’s Times:
The BBC has mocked its own news output as a “babble of poshness” aimed at middle-aged white men in a recruitment video.
The clip also claims that young people see the national broadcaster as similar to the Duchess of Cambridge: “nice, posh but not relevant to them”.
The animation was produced by the BBC as part of its drive to attract journalists from younger and more diverse backgrounds. It is preparing to launch a daily news podcast aimed at the under-25s in addition to on- demand news bulletins that can be accessed through smart speakers.
Adverts for the new “Voice News” roles say that applicants should be immersed in youth culture and adept at communicating with audiences who are more comfortable on social media than on the BBC homepage.
The video accompanying the adverts is scornful of the broadcaster’s reputation. “The BBC is seen by many to be serving white middle-aged and middle-class men,” it states, above a cartoon of an older man in a suit. The word “Poshfest” flashes up at the top of the screen. “Much of the output has been described as a ‘babble of poshness’.”
The video goes on to reveal the results of internal research, which asked young people to describe the BBC as a celebrity. Popular answers included Kate Middleton, Sir David Attenborough (“brilliant but old”) and Arsène Wenger, the former Arsenal manager.
The video says the corporation needs to find new ways of engaging young and diverse audiences, covering topics that interest them such as mental health, the environment and race. It promises that the new audio news services will be a “dad-dancing free zone”. They include two-minute news summaries called “flash briefings” that can be accessed on smartspeakers, an interactive news bulletin and a daily 15-minute podcast that takes a “deep dive” into a big story.
Last night the corporation said that the statistics in the video were based on anecdotal feedback from young people, not detailed audience research.
A spokesman said: “We are challenging some outdated perceptions of BBC News and this light-hearted recruitment video highlights that.”
The BBC is desperate to reach more young people, who spend less time with it than older generations owing to competition from YouTube, Spotify, social media and Netflix. This is one reason why the iPlayer Radio app, which was only used by 3 per cent of people under 35, is being replaced by BBC Sounds.
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