From a poll of its readers, media industry website, Press Gazette, reports that a third of them say they prefer working remotely – reckoning they are more productive at home than in the office. This follows on a report by the website which revealed that many newsrooms remain largely empty almost five months after the UK went into lockdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic 'with few rushing back to normality and some starting to permanently offer more flexibility for remote working'.
Some 142 (34%) of the 414 readers who took part said they prefer working remotely while 121 (29%) said they miss their office and wish to return. People were more likely to say they were more productive at home than in the office, with 185 people (45%) in favour of this versus 80 (19%) who said they were less productive working remotely.
In the US, the New York Daily News
has gone as far as permanently closing its newsroom. A spokesperson told Press Gazette: 'Out of an abundance of caution we do not anticipate having employees that can work remotely coming back into the office for the remainder of the year and into 2021. With no clear path forward in terms of returning to work, and as the company evaluates its real estate needs in light of health and economic conditions brought about by the pandemic, we have made the difficult decision to permanently close the office'.
In the UK, regional journalists at newspaper publishers, JPI Media, which owns a number of Scottish titles, including The Scotsman
, have begun a phased return to newsrooms. The Sheffield Star
is one of JPIMedia's titles and its editor, Nancy Fielder, has written about how her management team were the first to return for one day a week throughout August, 'as we balance the need to have proper conversations with the importance of not rushing back to the office without the right precautions in place'. Nancy, who has begun regularly appearing on the Sky News nightly press review programme, is taking the temperatures of her staff as they arrive at the office. The tea round and shared biscuits are banned, and half of the desks in the newsroom are blocked off to ensure social distancing.
Well, well, well! What a remarkable stooshie has erupted over the BBC Two documentary, The Trial of Alex Salmond
, broadcast on 17 August and fronted by Newsnight
presenter, Kirsty Wark. The controversial documentary was made for the BBC by Glasgow-based Two Rivers Media production company of which Wark's husband, Alan Clements, is managing director.
Subsequently, a veritable rash of Scottish journalists have been queuing up to lambast both Wark and the quality of the programme, and I randomly quote one or two here. Incidentally, Scottish Review's regular contributor, Gerry Hassan, had already revealed in his column on 19 August
that he had declined three separate approaches to appear on the programme. This Scottish broadcasting brouhaha has all the makings of a saga which could run and run amid reports that Salmond, who was cleared on 13 charges by the trial jury, may take legal action against the BBC over the documentary.
I have already had it confirmed that the BBC has received 43 complaints about the documentary, via broadcasting regulator, Ofcom. The Scottish Mail on Sunday
has quoted a BBC spokesman as saying: 'The programme is an accurate and fair reflection of events and we stand by it… the outcome of the trial was fairly reflected in the programme and would have been known to everyone watching'.
The tone of the journalistic criticism was, perhaps, set by Martin Hannan, of The National
, who announced on social media: 'Just to let you know that as the result of the Warkumentary on Alex Salmond, I have told the BBC not to bother contacting me for comment or participation in any programme... It would be hypocritical to be associated in any way with the purveyors of such absolutely biased shite masquerading as "journalism". I can also assure you this issue of the Warkumentary is not going to go away. Even now a cold dish is being prepared'.
Perhaps the most damning, but more studied criticism, emanated south off the border via the Scottish Daily Mail's
London-based TV reviewer, Christopher Stevens. Recalling that the documentary ended with an actress reading the words of a woman witness at Salmond's trial, Stevens wrote: 'Another grieved: "I am worried about what this says more broadly to other women, or just to us as a society. I mean, where does this leave us?"'
'Clearly,' pronounced Stevens, 'it leaves us in a situation where a BBC documentary may cast doubt on the findings of a jury that "fails" to deliver a guilty verdict in a sex case. And it leaves us with a national broadcaster whose double standards are breathtaking. Wark has been with Newsnight
since 1993, after all, but as she lamented the damage wreaked by the Salmond trial to the #MeToo movement, she said nothing of the programme's failings over an equally high-profile sex case... After the death of BBC presenter and DJ Jimmy Savile in 2011, a Newsnight
investigation into rumours of his appalling sex crimes was shelved. It was deemed to clash with an adoring obituary and a planned Christmas special of his children's show, Jim'll Fix It
. Savile never stood trial and, even after he was dead, some at the Beeb tried to turn a blind eye to his vile activities. Alex Salmond won his court case and also won a victory in a previous civil lawsuit against the Scottish Government over its handling of the allegations against him'.
'Unless the BBC is trying to argue that Britain's entire judicial system is unfit for purpose,' declared Stevens, 'Kirsty Wark should not be suggesting the trial has done serious damage to women's rights across the country. Instead, she should never lose sight of the fact that Jimmy Savile, a BBC employee, committed foul offences against women and children, sometimes within the BBC's buildings. And the Newsnight
report into that was dropped.'
Jack Irvine, of Media House, posted: 'Interesting to note that Ms Wark had never attended a High Court trial before. It showed. She came across like a wide-eyed trainee journalist. It reminded me of the hatchet job the BBC did before the Rangers [FC] trial and, guess what, they also walked free. I was also intrigued that other BBC journalists were used as camera fodder in a non-BBC production. Is there anybody actually at the helm of BBC Scotland?'
Broadcaster Lesley Riddoch had a very lengthy piece in The National
, opening: 'Alex Salmond's court case – they say – could tear the SNP and the wider Yes movement apart. The verdict – others say – has been a major setback for the cause of feminism and the #MeToo movement...
'So, it's tricky to have any publicly-stated position on the trial of the former First Minister, his allegations of conspiracy, the plight of female witnesses (indeed opting to use the word "plight"), the role or non-role of the FM, the behaviour of key advisers and the conduct of the civil service... like taking a walk along Sniper Alley, if you don't get hit by one side in the first 100 yards, you'll soon get hit by the other. And that's unpleasant for thousands of folk like myself, who are both feminists and independence supporters... So, I should thank Kirsty Wark for providing some blessed relief from the "What To Think About" Alex Salmond quandary. For 59 glorious minutes the broadcaster's biased and overwrought BBC Two documentary swept aside all the big, troubling and unresolved ramifications of the former First Minister's court case, with the sheer weirdness and self-referencing, salacious and blatantly biased nature of her programme.'
We can assume that there will be much more critical comment along these lines from Scotland's journalistic cohort as they report from the Holyrood inquiry into the Scottish Government's handling of complaints against Alex Salmond – which trundles on week after week.
BBC ALBA has launched a pioneering digital women's sports show called 360
, presented by Iona Ballantyne. It showcases the women and empowering stories in Scottish sport. The show is available simultaneously at: youTube.com/bbcalba
and on the BBC website.
BBC ALBA positions itself as the home of Scottish women's sport and the new programme represents significant further investment in developing this lead role. The focus will primarily be on BBC ALBA's core sports of football, rugby and shinty. Iseabail Mactaggart, director of multiplatform content at channel partner MG ALBA, points out: 'Increasing numbers of viewers are consuming on digital platforms, including YouTube, and we are proud to pioneer the creation of even more women's sports content in this format'.