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Dress sense

Peter Barron | 21:02 UK time, Friday, 7 September 2007

I find the Daily Mail a fascinating organ, not least because they take every possible opportunity to do down the BBC and, it seems to me at least, Newsnight. First it was outrage at the sight of Emily's legs on air, now they've turned their attention to our correspondent Richard Watson's dress sense.

"Mr Watson appeared on BBC Two's Newsnight on Wednesday filing a report about extremist Islamic literature being available in public libraries," they wrote. "He sported designer stubble, turned up jeans and brown loafers."

Brown loafers? What is the world coming to?

Rather than concentrate on his taste in clothes, we'd prefer you to concentrate on Richard's reports. We've just published a collection of his recent investigations into the UK terror threat on our website.

And for the Mail's benefit we've included a nice picture of him in stubble, jeans and those loafers.


  • 1.
  • At 09:35 PM on 07 Sep 2007,
  • Bedd Gelert wrote:

Yes, but Peter spread your horizons somewhat..

If you look elsewhere on the Daily Mail site [go on, force yourself..] look what they have decided to cover, and check out the photograph their picture editor has selected to accompany it..

'Nude photo storm..'

Why let hypocrisy get in the way of a good story ? If you aren't upsetting the Daily Mail, they you really aren't doing your job properly..

  • 2.
  • At 09:59 PM on 07 Sep 2007,
  • csharp wrote:

not sure one should honour the DM [by a response PB] who must be infuriated that they are read by office girls while newsnight is watched by the national decision makers?

If all the fashionista DM can see is the clothes people wear then it shows up the superficial basis of their attention?

have you read the alexei sayle comment on the female newsnight dress sense? Everyone seems to have a point of view which is kinda weird and shallow for a news show audience?

  • 3.
  • At 11:37 PM on 07 Sep 2007,
  • Matt wrote:

The day the Daily Mail starts supporting you is the day you need to start worrying

  • 4.
  • At 11:38 PM on 07 Sep 2007,
  • Ben Bow wrote:

I find Newsnight less and less appealing for a number of reasons, one of which is your man Watson appearing like a destitute. What next? Baseball caps on back to front?

  • 5.
  • At 12:35 AM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • Steve wrote:

You'd have thought the Daily Mail already had enough things with which to keep their readers in a permanent state of fear, without introducing Richard's dress sense.


  • 6.
  • At 09:12 AM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • Mike Daly wrote:

I must read more carefully. I thought for a second that you had called the DM a 'Fascist organ'.
The DM is of course an 'opinionpaper'. However on this occasion you have identified a sentence that appears entirely factual. Richard wasn't clean shaven, or wearing a skirt and sandals, thankfully. Not an especially earth shattering list of facts, but facts nonetheless and they didn't speculate on what he might wear for the rest of the week. BBC News might actually learn something form that.

  • 8.
  • At 11:05 AM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • viewer wrote:

I think Peter rather misses the point. After reading the article it clearly is silly to suggest that all reporters in all circumstances needed to be dressed up to the nines with suits and ties (practicalities dictate otherwise for example in a hot climate). But the point is this: how we dress goes partly towards how we are perceived. That's why many other professionals in Britain, even those few professions which don't require people to wear a tie, are required to look smart because it gives the impression that you care about how you will be perceived. If you don't dress in a manner in which it appears you don't care, what does that mean for your attitutde towards your career? A greatly simplified argument, but one I think which will resonate among BBC viewers. If you asked a cross section of the BBC News' audience what they felt it was appropriate to dress in such a manner, I'm not sure jeans would be rated that highly. Also, rather than feel persecuted by the DM, could this be one occasion where the article provides some thoughtful consideration?

  • 9.
  • At 12:14 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • James Boulter wrote:

Hmmm. I'm not usually snobbish about dress sense, and I seldom agree with the Daily Mail, but Richard really ought to have looked a bit smarter in that report. He looked more like an interviewee randomly selected on the street than a BBC journalist.

Also, Peter: I'm not part of the "BBC is full of lefties brigade" but the tone you adopt in this post - "I find the Daily Mail a fascinating organ", "for the Mail's benefit..." - can only propagate that point of view. Would you take the same supercilious tone with the Guardian? Perhaps I'm wrong, but you certainly know how to wind the Mail up...

  • 10.
  • At 01:57 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • gregor aitken wrote:



I like the fact that you find the Daily Mail a fascinating organ and wonder if ou realise that this is how a lot of us have come to view the BBC.

I have no doubt when you read it you wonder what planet they are on. A lot of folks wonder what planet the BBC staffers are on.

To finish off, you sum up the ridiculous one-upmanship by saying you care more about the terror threat than you do about whow things are presented, when we both know that the real big terrorist story is one you wont go near.

To the outsider the BBC seem to be an organisation living in absolute denial. Is an Intervention required, should teams of us turn up at your door and sit you in a circle telling you, "we love you but...."

The situation is getting comical Peter. but possibly this is for the best. If the BBC news do what they do best,(worrying about what the daily mail thinks) and leave the real journalism to the unpaid masses who actually care about our democracy and have no fear of the truth.

p.s. couldnt you find a wee segment on the site for 'could it be black flag terrorism'
special report by anybody please/ or you could just any one of the hundreds of online docos/reports there.

i won't hang on for an answer

  • 11.
  • At 02:30 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • stating the obvious wrote:

I find the BBC a fascinating organ, not least because they take every possible opportunity to do down the Daily Mail

  • 12.
  • At 02:33 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • Andrew wrote:

I'm sure the Daily Mail staff all wear bow ties to work.

  • 13.
  • At 02:48 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • J.WESTERMAN wrote:

The Beeb wasting space on the Daily Mail! What next?

Do you think that the Newsnight website could post it's anti-terror (and other) stories in adult size chunks of text -instead of cocktail party bite size? Very annoying (especially for dial-up systems) -and I'm sure that we can concentrate long enough to read the whole thing.

Have you chopped everything up because you don't want us to understand how complicit western governments are in creating the terrorist threat?

Surely, only a fanatic would bother to download and actually read all those fragments of yours.

....and by the way, when are 'moderate Christians' going to stand up against their fanatical leaders who promote global conflict to further their own intersts? Hasn't Bush claimed that we are iether for or against him? How "moderate and reasonable" is that?

I resd recently that intellectuals were particularly susceptible to propaganda -because they were used to dealing in 2nd hand info, because they had to express an opinion on everything -and they believed they were unbiased judges. I guess Newsnight does seem to prove the point.

  • 15.
  • At 03:40 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • DaveH wrote:

"BAN THESE EVIL LOAFERS!" or house prices will fall, so says the DM!

While EM no doubt has nice legs (missed that one myself), it is only a problem if it reflects a BBC move to news presentation in the style of Channel 5 (ie: for 5 yr olds or women, who never grew out of teen mags). The 6 is going that way - please reverse that trend.

  • 16.
  • At 11:10 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • miika wrote:

See, this is what happens now the government and print media (and, indeed, other broadcast media), has gotten the idea that they can criticize the BBC and it (the BBC) will jump around like headless chickens in a panic as a result.

You brought this on yourselves, allowing trivia and inconsequentials (such as the noddy issue) to be considered on the same level as the true cock-ups.

Now everyone sees a weakness, and they'll keep hammering at you. As you, of all people, know, it isn't whether or nmot something has a basis in truth that matters, it's people's perceptions that does.

*NOW* the impartiality and accuracy of the BBC can be called into question, due simply to the awareness that you're much more concerned with image and the 'plaints of your competitors, well founded or otherwise, than you are with content.

A much better solution is to stop worrying about who you *might* offend, and report the facts without fear nor favour to any "special interest" - be it the government, or other media outlets.

It might not work, and you might still go down in the end, but which would you prefer - to go down for trying to report the facts, regardless of who the "truth hurts", or to go down trying to appease everyone and their dog?

  • 17.
  • At 09:19 AM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Susannah wrote:

The BBC has become a National disgrace...not only with it's Labour induced docterine, it's dumbed down programmes but also with it's dreadful dress code.
As for being the BBC Editor, Mr. Barron...take a look at your first sentence and tell me that THAT is good English?

As we get further and further to the messenger being all and the message merely consequential, most in the entire media firmament seem to have a mutual vested interest in spending their time obsessing about and promoting each other.

I guess it's understandable in a competitive, egotistical and greedy remunerative environment, but hardly very edifying when it gets personal and has nothing to do with professional abilities.

But it does get very tiresome when those who exist in this gilded orb seem to think the rest of us care and need to know what their lovely lives are like.

Hence I ceased listening to such as Chis Moyles' show when it was more who had dissed whom within than self-obsessed circle than any music or entertainment value.

And, indeed, noting about 90% of the original post being in a similar schoolyard vein, as opposed to sharing anything of any actual value.

The difference is that I expect it from the DM, and hence don't pay to be subjected to it.

Hence I look foward to being properly informed on the news regarding the UK terror threat in Mr. Watson's nth para-billed reports.

  • 19.
  • At 12:03 PM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Allie wrote:

The Daily Mail is now running a poll on its website, asking the question `should BBC reporters wear ties?' Current score is: yes 51%, no 49%. Not sure that's the response they were looking for!

  • 20.
  • At 12:04 PM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • BR wrote:

I think it is fair to say that the Daily Mail does not have much time for the BBC. Neither does the Sun or the Express.

However, you should also note that more serious papers like the Telegraph and the Times are generally pretty critical of the BBC as well.

The only papers which are generally positive about the BBCs output are the Guardian, the Independent and the Mirror. I wonder why it is these papers in particular that are so happy with your work?

(Only fair to say that the Independent was critical of the BBCs decision to drop Planet Relief - they must have felt very let down.)

  • 21.
  • At 04:54 PM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Clifford wrote:

You enforce the wearing of poppies on Armistice Day so why not have a dress code?

  • 22.
  • At 08:01 PM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Paul Holden wrote:

You are falling into the trap of judging the quality of the message by your preconceptions of the messenger (The Mail). Which is exactly the problem with screening reports by someone dressed as a tramp (Richard Watson).

Viewer's preconceptions about a reporter are very influenced by his dress and appearance, and preconceptions about a reporter detracts from the understanding of the report. As an extreme example, would you for instance screen a report on the Middle East by someone dressed as a Nazi?

My advice for the BBC is to ensure that reporters stick with a standard dress code so that their own egos do not swamp the message they are trying to get across.

  • 23.
  • At 09:27 PM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Joseph wrote:

Dear Peter, I just thought I would let you know that it is not just the Daily Mail that tries to 'do down the BBC', it is in fact the 69 million non Guardian readers in the British Isles who have problems with the BBC.

I suggest that rather then use this editors blog to attack the Daily Mail, and therefore by extension all its readers that you stop and think why you are always attacked, you may be shocked to find out that it is the BBC's clear centre of left bias that upsets so many people.

At least with the Daily Mail people have the choice to purchase the paper unlike our choices when it comes to the BBC.

The bigger pity of the BBC's paranoia about the Daily Mail is that the DT and the Times attack you more, yet you seem to reserve your hatred for the DM, I wonder why?.

I speak as a reader of the Times and the Independent, my reqdership of the DM is limited to the SM, however, I normally find myself agreeing with them when they discuss the clear bias shown to left wing causes by the BBC.

  • 24.
  • At 06:27 AM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • Magellan wrote:

I think it is a matter of trust; a tidy person - a tidy mind.

Ignore the Daily Mail. I do.

  • 26.
  • At 09:37 AM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • Ms Reason wrote:

Newsnight staff should have a dress code It is a distraction to have a report delivered by a scruffy reporter..

  • 27.
  • At 10:11 AM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • Silkstone wrote:

All that was lacking in the shot of him sitting on a step was a dog and a tin plate. Just joking.

  • 28.
  • At 11:24 AM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • Steve wrote:

Stating the Obvious wrote:
I find the BBC a fascinating organ, not least because they take every possible opportunity to do down the Daily Mail

Not quite the same though, is it?

As someone who read the Daily Mail for years, I can tell you that it has had a history of attacking the BBC far far longer than the BBC's history of having a mild pop back at the Mail.

The only surprise is that the BBC has endured all the abuse (and, often, misrepresentation) for so long. Even now, for the most part, the BBC's retorts are mild and couteous, little more than a resigned yawn at once again being the punching bag.

  • 29.
  • At 11:55 AM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • Matt Wells wrote:

Susannah writes

"As for being the BBC Editor, Mr. Barron...take a look at your first sentence and tell me that THAT is good English?

er - pots and kettles, Susannah? What about *your* first sentence? First there's your unnecessary capitalisation of National, then the use of "it's" when it should have been "its" (three times) and the mis-spelling of "doctrine". Time to go back to grammar school, Susannah?

  • 30.
  • At 02:41 PM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • JamesinHK wrote:

"the shocking thing is these books are available free of charge for people in tower hamlets to borrow and only six people have borrowed this one since 2004. and one of them was the BBC."

  • 31.
  • At 03:59 PM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • Andrew Livingston wrote:

"Dear Peter, I just thought I would let you know that it is not just the Daily Mail that tries to 'do down the BBC', it is in fact the 69 million non Guardian readers in the British Isles who have problems with the BBC."

Amazing how there are 69 million non-Guardian readers in a country with a population of only 60.6 million. Incredible the sort of things modern science has achieved, eh?

Makes as much sense as the "BBC is an ebil leftie conspiracy" talk mind.

"(Only fair to say that the Independent was critical of the BBCs decision to drop Planet Relief - they must have felt very let down.)"

Global warming: Too hot to handle for the BBC -

Well, yes. But they did have some things in common:

The BBC climate special decision -

Replete with such choice shared comments as this:

"The only reason why this became an issue is that there is a small but vociferous group of climate 'sceptics' lobbying against taking action.'

Nothing to do with Live Earth being a total bomb, and the new version being pitched imaginatively as a total duplicate, replete with the 'line-up' of celebrity presenters to really get the common folk to empathise with their glowing examples of restraint. So I would suggest there were other reasons, and some of the loudest voices came from those truly concerned with getting consensus on positive, practical actions to mitigate possible catastrophic climate change before any tipping point may be reached. I can live with 'told you so' if I'm wrong for erring on the side of caution. But 'living with' anything may be tricky if such as I get entitled to say it instead.

Finally, if I am right this 'toys out of pram' reaction ignores either feedback or maybe even a poll of viewers to the effect that they'd like to get the facts, ta very much, and not another luvvie green-in to further boost the 'awareness'.

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