Outgoing BBC boss Tony Hall issues parting shot at 'catch out' journalism

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer
Lord Hall called for an end to 'catch out' political journalism. (PA)

Political journalism must move away from “catch out” interviews to stop a toxic discourse, according to outgoing BBC director-general Lord Tony Hall.

Lord Hall, who will move into a top role at the National Gallery, said the BBC had to more carefully consider its role.

His comments come as the broadcaster announced 450 job cuts to its news division as part of a cost-cutting drive that has already seen the Victoria Derbyshire Show axed.

Flagship shows like Newsnight and Radio 4's Today programme are also expected to have to make efficiencies.

Newsnight lead presenter Emily Maitlis responded to Lord Hall's comments by warning against scripted interviews. (BBC)

Speaking at the Edelman Trust Barometer 2020 event on Tuesday, Lord Hall said: ”I’m a great believer in the long-form political interview where you can explore at length, not in soundbites, the real policy decisions that politicians are making.”

Lord Hall said the BBC’s journalism should reflect the difficulties of making political decisions, adding: "Exploring those sort of nuances is an important part of what we should do.”

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Senior Tories continue to boycott Radio 4's Today at the request of Boris Johnson's special adviser Dominic Cummings.

Newsnight lead presenter Emily Maitlis responded to Lord Hall's comments by warning against scripted interviews, insisting "engaging" encounters would ensure audience retention.

The BBC is to announce job cuts to its news division as part of a cost-cutting drive. (PA)

"That doesn't mean everything has to be a battle, far from it, but you do have to leave the audience feeling if they look away they will miss something," Ms Maitlis told The Times.

Lord Hall's departure takes place during a turbulent time for the broadcaster, with job cuts at the top of the agenda along with equal pay disputes, political bias, diversity and TV licences.

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