It was understandable that BBC’s Panorama, returning to a prime-time slot after exile to late-night Sundays, should want to make a splash. But the pre-publicity of the football bungs edition turned out to be a hype too far.
As Stephen Glover writes The Independent today: “It slowly began to dawn that they had discovered very little indeed.” But he blames the newspapers too:
Of course, we should give the BBC half a pat on the back for trying to do some investigative journalism. The press doesn’t undertake much of it nowadays because it is so expensive. That said, I can’t imagine any newspaper putting a sizeable team on to a story for a whole year and coming up with so little. And yet the sports pages of these same newspapers cheerfully fuelled the hype before the Panorama documentary was broadcast and, with very few, if any, exceptions they then repeated the programme’s pretty feeble allegations as though they amounted to something.
Over at the Guardian, media lawyer Sarah Webb, is also concerned about the programme not living up to the hype. She writes “If the programme, together with its pre-broadcast hype, is said to mean that the BBC was accusing those identified of being guilty of corruption, then that is what the BBC will have to prove.” My emphasis.