From a presentation point of view the BBC has handled the Miriam O’Reilly ageism story in exemplary fashion.
· It showed great openness in giving plenty of coverage to the story, to the extent of broadcasting live from O’Reilly’s press conference.
· It offered an unqualified apology – “we got it wrong”, together with an offer of work in the future. Those moves went a long way to taking the wind of the O’Reilly team’s sails at the press conference.
· The apology came direct from Alan Yentob, no less. What’s more it came very quickly – clearly the BBC has learned some lessons here.
· Footage of O’Reilly broadcasting was juxtaposed with that of her successors, allowing viewers to draw their own conclusions.
· Crucially, the opposing view was left in hands of respected broadcaster and ageism victim Nick Ross. Again, he was readily available in a timely, clear and rather charming manner.
It’s good to see the BBC planning and executing the presentation of a difficult situation so well. It’s also reassuring to see a tiny bit of mischief creeping in. Somehow, the big blow up of Miriam O’Reilly that they used as a backdrop in news reports seemed rather more wrinkled in appearance than many of the alternatives that must have been available!