Thursday, November 8, 2018

Beck called...

Long-serving BBC News consigliere Sarah Beck is leaving. The current Director of BBC Monitoring joined the BBC straight from Bristol University (French and Russian) in 1991 as a production assistant in the Russian Service. She rose to Moscow bureau editor in 1998, covering both Chechen wars and the resignation of Russian president Boris Yeltsin. She moved to Jerusalem in 2000 as editor of the Middle East bureau and then Singapore two years later, covering the Bali bombing while heading the Asia bureau.

Back in London, she got caught up in the Savile bother, working for Deputy News boss Stephen Mitchell. Her emails made the 2012 Pollard Report - taking the proposed Newsnight investigation into Jimmy Savile off the Managed Risk Programmes List, and telling Newsnight ‘Just so you know…. have taken Jimmy Saville [sic] off for now and will put back on when it’s imminent. The document goes quite far – in Vision etc – and we thought it might be best to keep [it] off just for now".

Unscathed, she became deputy head of newsgathering in 2013, before the move to Monitoring in 2016. Monitoring became the BBC's financial responsibility in a Government-offload of 2010. Charged with either raising new money or cuts, she eventually had to balance the books. 250 UK staff were cut by nearly 100, and their base, a Grade II listed mansion on a hill in a lovely 94-acre park outside Reading, was put up for sale. Sara led the remainder to the upper floors of Broadcasting House in May this year. The BBC has yet to clinch a deal on the sale - the only real way the move can make economic sense.

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