Departing BBC Scotland boss urges end to political criticism
Donalda Mackinnon: political football
BBC Scotland’s departing top executive has defended the organisation against “frequently unfair” and “politically-motivated” attacks on its journalism.
Donalda Mackinnon, who steps down from her £180,000 job later this year, gave a parting shot to opponents of its news coverage.
“As a publicly-funded broadcaster, the BBC is, of course, well-used to being in the public eye about our news coverage, frequently used as a political football when journalism that doesn’t accord with a particular viewpoint upsets someone or other,” she writes in the trade magazine Broadcast.
“I know that criticism focusing almost entirely on our news output is frequently unfair on our journalism teams, who try to the very best of their ability to ask questions of those in power that the public don’t get the chance to ask, and ask questions that those in power would sometimes rather we didn’t ask.
“Often, for whatever reason, those who criticise do not seem to realise, or choose to ignore, the fact that journalism exists is to cast light on matters of public interest and to challenge those in authority, no matter their political colour.
“But while that criticism is, most often, unfair on our news teams, it’s also deeply unfair on the majority of other staff.”
Ms MacKinnon, who has enjoyed a 33-year career at the BBC, was due to depart this summer but will now remain at Pacific Quay until the end of this year.
Defending its record and calling for a change to the tone of attacks it receives, she said: ” It’s probably wishful thinking to hope that much of the politically motivated criticism around our news won’t come back as we return to whatever counts for normality, but it would also be nice to retain just a little recognition of our output in its entirety.”
Acknowledging the efforts of key workers, she added her thanks to the “frequently unsung media workers, without whom we would all be struggling to know what’s been going on”.
She highlighted local papers, national press and broadcasters, but consistent with BBC Scotland’s frequent reluctance to recognise and support new media she made no mention of online news services.