Covid-19: Behind the Headlines


Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution have got themselves a bit of an online scoop having interviewed Dorothy Byrne, who is the Head of News & Current Affairs at Channel 4.

In the time of a viral pandemic, it’s fair to say that news broadcasters are facing a range of challenges, some practical and some ethical.

Ms Byrne is one of the most highly regarded news broadcasters in the country and explains how important it is for journalists to hold those in authority to account; why the need to question official narratives where appropriate is crucial to ensuring trust not just in the media, but in politics as well; and how the coronavirus may change the way we all consume news in the future.

She also predicts how the pandemic will change the business of news gathering, including the likelihood that news organisations will seek to recruit more journalists from science backgrounds. 

An interview conducted by BRLSI available on directly addresses the moral and practical dilemmas facing those upon whom we rely for information during a time of national crisis. When neither scientific nor political knowledge can keep pace with the scenario humanity so unfortunately finds herself in, how robust will our journalism need to be if it is to fight the assertion made by Thoreau that ‘news to a philosopher is just gossip’ and instead insist on journalism as a force for democratic good.

“It’s not just that we’ve been holding the Government to account as journalists, we have actually been informing the Government that what they seem to be being told by officials isn’t the case.’’

Dorothy has strong opinions on all these subjects born out of decades of experience at the front line of TV news and current affairs and she is not afraid to rock the boat. Byrne’s talk to the Edinburgh International Television Festival last year made front-page news when she said broadcasters should be unafraid to point out when leading politicians are lying; it is this sort of attitude of hers which promises to maintain frontline journalism as a philanthropic activity rather than a passive one.

At a time where it is easy for the mind’s eye to be bedazzled by faulty science this fresh insight into how we fend off a retraction of our essential human freedoms is both timely and essential to our long-term wellbeing as humans on the planet. 

Streamed from:1/5/19   Link:

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