Guest post: The presenters are expected to be expert in this field

Originally a comment by Rob on A personal and professional impossibility.

Both the BBC and RNZ (our version of the Beeb) have a long and proud tradition of long running shows that cover a wide range of issues that broadly fall within a generic header. The presenters are expected to be expert in this field, to be able to collate years, even decades long shows that maintain interest by being fresh, topical and challenging. Whatever your interpretation of the printed standards and your supposition about what is in an employment contract – let alone the interpretation of that – the practice promoted by both organisations is to expect and encourage the presenters to use their expertise to bring the greatest value possible from an interview.

Every god-damned day I hear presenters express personal views, couched as questions, which are designed to challenge the interviewee and thus draw forth more information. Sometimes these conversations are collaborative, an intellectual dance in which each participant takes inspiration from the other and the interview takes on an organic life of its own, returning to the pre-scripted questions only when an interesting thread is exhausted. other times the interviews become combative, when one side or the other feels a statement or position is bullshit and requires challenging. Sometimes the interviewee gets eaten alive, sometimes it’s the interviewer.

This is what I, and many others I think, expect and want from such shows. Not a pissing match or an exposition of one persons views. A real life discussion that brings in the listener as a silent but active participant who is forced to consider, to really think about, the competing views being argued.

In my opinion Murray has done nothing less than her job and the BBC should be ashamed of its unjustified and downright weasily editorial interference. Murray’s job is to be an expert on things that affect women. She is. She distanced herself, carefully and explicitly, from hate speech against trans people, but took to task a specific aspect of the actions and philosophy of a certain class of tran-activism. One which frankly seems to adopt something halfway between pre-feminist thought and the wishy washy choice-feminism that has zero intellectual and political backbone.

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