Panorama man's outburst

If you haven’t seen it already, here’s the video of Panorama reporter John Sweeney losing his rag whilst filming for tonight’s BBC1 exposé of Scientology. It’s quite an extraordinary interviewing technique.
I must admit, I was immediately cynical; we’ve had a run of Monday morning items on the BBC news agenda which have been blatant adverts for the Panorama show later in the day. (This has been the subject of some discussion on the BBC’s Newswatch slot.) So I didn’t immediately realise that it wasn’t the Beeb who had released the clip.
It’s actually been posted on YouTube by a user called ‘johnalexwood’, who includes in his biography that he is a ‘Scientologist living in East Grinstead’; his wife works for the Church of Scientology London, and his favourite book is Dianetics, often described as the bible of Scientology. So he is not an impartial observer to the exchange.
It makes for an interesting game of tit-for-tat news management. Broadcast-quality pictures can be produced on a camcorder costing barely £100; broadcasting facilities (via YouTube) are free; and the broadcasting process itself is trivially simple. Journalists used to be ‘superpowers’: they were the ones armed with cameras and airtime, and hence able to act with impunity. Now the interviewees are armed too.
And you know what? I bet the Beeb don’t mind too much… I’ll definitely be watching the show tonight. I hadn’t planned to. And I bet I’m not alone in that.
UPDATE:  there’s a very nice piece from John Sweeney himself, buried on the BBC site, in which he writes: ‘Davis had been goading me all week, and on the seventh day I fell into his elephant trap. He shouted at me and I shouted back, louder. If you are interested in becoming a TV journalist, it is a fine example of how not to do it. I look like an exploding tomato and shout like a jet engine and every time I see it makes me cringe. I apologised almost immediately, Tommy carried on as if nothing had happened but meanwhile Scientology had rushed off copies of me losing it to my boss, my boss’s boss and my boss’s boss’s boss, the Director-General of the BBC.’

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