“Public Service” and the Journalism Crisis: Is the BBC the Answer?

Freedman, Des (D. J.). 2019. “Public Service” and the Journalism Crisis: Is the BBC the Answer? Television & New Media, 20(3), pp. 203-218. ISSN 1527-4764 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Professional journalism is under extraordinary pressure: not only are its traditional business models under enormous strain but it is also regularly accused by the Right of peddling ‘fake news’ and criticized by the Left for failing to play a robust monitorial role. In this situation, there is a temptation to see public service media, and the BBC in particular, as beacons of light in an otherwise gloomy picture. This article attempts to provide a note of caution to those who see the public service model as the most effective means of holding power to account and as the most desirable alternative to the flawed news cultures of both commercial and authoritarian landscapes. It considers some of the structural and institutional factors that constrain the BBC’s journalism and suggests that its intimate relationship with elite power has long undermined its ability to act as a reliable and independent check on power.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):



public service broadcasting, BBC, public media, media capture, journalism, impartiality

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies
Media, Communications and Cultural Studies > Goldsmiths Leverhulme Media Research Centre


24 January 2018Accepted
7 March 2018Published Online
1 March 2019Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

20 Mar 2018 14:24

Last Modified:

09 Jun 2020 17:15

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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