Last month, at the Edinburgh Television Festival Dorothy Byrne, Channel 4’s highly respected head of news and current affairs, delivered a funny, brutal and hard-hitting MacTaggart lecture (above) that has been described as a clarion call for broadcast journalism to step up to the plate at a time when national and international democracy is being undermined.
In her speech, Byrne called out television’s current lack of bravery, innovation and commitment and called on commissioners and producers to embrace serious analysis, respect its viewers and return to clever, controversial and difficult TV that challenged contemporary society and helped to shape society for the better.
Byrne cited television’s lack of diversity, its reliance on a posh white male elite and recalled its sexist past, arguing that the industry’s failure to become more ethnically diverse undermines its important role as a mediator between politicians and the public. At a time when politicians are increasingly unwilling to give in-depth interviews on television and radio, she called on them to hold themselves up to proper scrutiny and accountability..
At its heart was a serious message about the role and responsibility of the free press in a democracy and a plea for television journalists to stand up and speak truth to power.
Join Dorothy Byrne in conversation with Jodie Ginsberg, chief executive of Index on Censorship in what promises to be a hard-hitting, honest and illuminating discussion.