Let's avoid a bout of BBC bashing
The mistakes made by BBC Newsnight in broadcasting a report in which a senior Tory was wrongly accused of being a child abuser are very serious, causing terrible anguish to the individual involved and grave damage to the BBC's reputation.
One of the reasons that it has caused such a storm – resulting over the weekend in the resignation of director general George Entwistle – is precisely because it stands in stark contrast to the normally high standards of the corporation.
The BBC's news and current affairs output is vast, covering a huge range of radio and television services. And it is normally a standard bearer for reliable, insightful, responsible journalism.
It is, therefore, absolutely correct that what went wrong at Newsnight should be thoroughly investigated, both in respect of this recent report and the decision made previously not to broadcast a programme about sex abuse claims surrounding the late BBC presenter Jimmy Savile.
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However, we hope that these controversies will not lead to another bout of prolonged BBC-bashing by the corporation's critics.
The errors on Newsnight appear to be isolated and there is no evidence that there is a wider systemic problem.
The vast majority of the Beeb's news and current affairs output is of the highest standard and plays a vital role in informing the public about complex issues and holding to account the nation's decision-makers.
It has never been more important to have journalism which is trusted, responsible and reliable.
The internet, for all of its undoubted virtues, has become an alternative source of information, much of which is nothing more than wildly vicious rumour and crackpot conspiracy theories.
In this environment it is essential to have pillars of dependability such as the BBC.
The need to preserve the corporation's credibility is what makes the Newsnight crisis so serious. But it should also be remembered that the vast majority of the Beeb's output, every hour of every day, provides a touchstone of truth in an increasingly uncertain and bewildering world and that is of immense value.