Candida Watson reflects on Ariel's role

Ariel Logo

So, after 75 years Ariel the newspaper is to close. Announced as part of the Delivering Quality First pan-BBC cost savings the end of the print edition of Ariel pales into insignificance compared to the savage cuts being inflicted on other areas, cuts, moreover, that will affect the licence fee payer.

That doesn't make it any less of a shock to the long-serving staff who produce Ariel, to our regular correspondents who make the letters page a thing of occasional joy and frequent conversation, or to those of you who like to pick up the paper and read it quietly in a break, or take it to read on the journey home.

And how will certain tabloids fill their diary columns now?

As Editor of Ariel for just over two years I am sad to be presiding over the end of the most recognised form of a BBC institution, and sad that the post I hold is also closing.

But as the BBC prunes back frontline staff and output it is hard to argue that it should devote licence fee income to publishing an internal newspaper, particularly when it has an intranet on which Ariel has an established presence, and when the news in the newspaper has already been reported on that site.

Times change and so do reporting methods, the BBC is moving into digital space and more and more news content is consumed online, why should Ariel be any different?

I know staff will be sad to see it go, and that the online version is different to the print issue; I know some people will see it as a none-too-subtle way of diminishing internal criticism of BBC management.

It is true that the current Ariel online site has no comment facility on stories, but that is something we are working to address. We still have a letters 'page' and readers can still comment on any issue that they want to raise, and in the online only Ariel you won't have to wait a week to see your letter printed.

Some of the features in the paper edition will go, others will remain, and we welcome suggestions as to what readers would like to lose, retain or see introduced. We will also be using more AV on the site, with the aim of producing our own reports on both news and feature items.

Ariel will still bring you news about the BBC, interesting features and opinion, and will still endeavour to be the BBC's concerned and impartial friend.

DQF has ended programmes and jobs across the BBC. The newspaper version of Ariel will be history from the end of this year, the last issues will join their predecessors in British Racing Green hardback binders on the shelves of the BBC archive, but the online edition will roll on and so will the many stories of the BBC.

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