Now Radio 4’s Today catches BBC ‘text us’ bug

All this social media is having a worrying effect on mainstream media, not least in the desire of editors to get ‘feedback’ from readers, viewers and listeners.

For a while now the BBC Radio 5 ‘Live,’ its sports and news station, has been inviting listeners to phone, email, text or Facebook in response to just about everything it broadcasts – it’s only a matter of time before it says, “the time is now ten minutes past eight – text us if you think it’s 12 minutes past.”

Now the Beeb’s venerable news and current affairs flagship station Radio 4 seems to have caught the bug. This morning (Monday) old stager John Humphrys (left), the Today programme’s celebrated ‘rottweiler’ interviewer, was asking people to text in response to the news that UK PM David Cameron had (briefly) left his eight year-old daughter Nancy in the pub following a Sunday lunch en famille.

Do we really need to know if, say, the Miltons from Berkhamsted temporarily forgot young Alfie as they paid the bill? Does this really increase our insight into the Camerons’ embarrassment?

just as alarmingly the once reassuringly grumpy Humphrys seems to have been instructed to lighten up a bit, chuckling away over all sorts of news items that aren’t funny at all. But Radio 4’s listening figures have slipped a bit recently.

Is the Beeb’s response to try to make it ‘one of us,’ ‘dumbing down’ as the Daily Mail would put it?

What we need is rottweiler Humphrys sinking his fangs into the Government’s fat calf, not trying to be one of the lads.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.