The Ross and Brand row – a sense of perspective please

Is it just me, or has the whole row about Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross got completely out of hand?

OK, what they did was crass and in poor taste but should the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition be getting involved? Was it really necessary for the Controller of Radio 2 to resign?

Let’s get some perspective here. Russell Brand was hired to be outrageous. He stuck to his job description and, on one occasion, went that bit too far. At the time the prank was aired, only a handful of people complained. It was only after Andrew Sachs’s grand-daughter kicked up a fuss about it that all the Disgusted-of-Dorkings started writing in to complain.

This over-reaction is a symptom of the increased media scrutiny that public sector organisations are now under. When the newspapers bark, most of the public sector flinches. In many organisations any crisis, especially where there is a fear that unfavourable press coverage may result, is met with a rash of suspensions, officious investigations and the blaming of…well….anyone who happens to be in the way. Sometimes this reaction is justified but often it isn’t. the effect is to create a risk-averse, arse-covering culture in which no-one moves unless they have written authority to do so.

OK, maybe I exaggerate a bit but, for once, it would be great to see the Chief Executive of a public body tell the media to calm down and get a sense of perspective. To take a stance like that requires courage and some good legal and PR advice but the alternative to facing down this sort of tabloid-fuelled mass hysteria is the fear and paralysis that erodes an organisations’ effectiveness.

It is right for the BBC to suspend Ross and Brand and it should have issued a formal apology to Andrew Sachs a lot sooner, but senior executive resignations, expensive inquiries and questions in the House? Isn’t that all a bit unnecessary? It’s a radio show, for God’s sake. Sometimes things just go wrong.

The BBC will probably do what most organisations do in these circumstances. It will play safe and introduce any number of new procedures to make sure nothing like this happens again. Employees will spend more time covering their backs and the result will be less interesting programmes that cost more.

This story has been fuelled by spiralling hysteria and over-reaction. We don’t expect measured responses from journalists but BBC bosses should have handled it better. Above all, our senior politicians should have stayed out of the whole silly affair.

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6 Responses to The Ross and Brand row – a sense of perspective please

  1. Politicians got involved as it is free publicity for them and to think of a chief exec of a public body telling the press “to calm down” in reality would be great but I think that person would value their job too much. If everyone “has” to pay the subscription fee they are surely allowed a comment or a voice but this got out of control. The media hyped this up to the point of people handing in resignation letters. Lets be honest papers need a story and they fuelled this one to the extreme.

  2. pennyb22 says:

    Great Blog Keep Up The Good Work ..Cheers 🙂

  3. jameshigham says:

    That may be so but Ross has got right up quite a few people’s nose. That’s what this is all about.

  4. Maybe Ross has got up a few peoples noses (probably due to the paypacket) Jealousy Im sure played a part in this.

  5. jonathan says:

    Agreed that Brand was hired to be outrageous but in the backside covering culture, we like outrageous so long as all the safety procedures have been followed and we don’t offend anyone else.

    (A bit like the executive team building where you are allowed to wear your baseball hat backwards and say words like “radical”)

    On holiday this summer, I read the definitive history of punk rock. It is a weighty tome of about 600 pages and takes you through all the circumstances of the rise of punk.

    Oddly enough, the middle 70’s were very familiar to now namely
    Instability in global financial markets
    Lack of trust in politicians & political systems
    Mass dissatisfaction with popular culture & entertainment
    New technologies breaking through (mass photo copying became affordable in the 70’s)

    I wonder how the Pistol’s et al would have gone on if they were in their heyday now…

  6. CherryPie says:

    I myself have never been fond of that sort of humour. There does seem to be a lot of publicity about it though, but I think that is the same for most news these days.

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