Richard Sambrook leaving the BBC

It’s only now at the end of a busy day doing internetty stuff and then blogging about Finland’s Eurovision multiplatform thing, I realise my tweet at the beginning of the day about the BBC’s Director of Global News Richard Sambrook’s departure may have been interpreted by Bill Thompson in a slightly negative light. Certainly when I read his retweet I do wince a little. It reads like I’m rubbing my hands together with glee.

I’m not of course. And no, before you think it, I’m not backpedalling either.

As it happens, Mr Sambrook’s departure hit me (and a handful of others around me at work) a little hard.

“Richard Sambrook’s LEAVING?” said one colleague incredulously, “Is that a joke?”

It did seem a little odd. It seemed wrong to say out loud too. It was almost like informing a classroom full of kindergarten attendees that Santa wasn’t real and their parents were liars. You just wouldn’t say it. Even if it’s true.

Now I come to write this, I’m reminded of one thought I had earlier on today about the whole thing. Various comments I’d seen on Twitter and messages posted on Facebook made it seem as though Mr Sambrook had died. Obviously this isn’t the case – @sambrook was observed on the tube train home from Television Centre this evening – but it does illustrate something which has gone overlooked as far as I’m concerned: that’s to what extent us BBC bunch forget we live in a special “hive”. When one of the hive is set to leave, it’s little wonder those of us more sensitive types feel a little sad. I haven’t felt this way since a lady who used to work in the newsagent shop my mum used to run announced she was leaving because she was pregnant. I was gutted. I communicated my irritation too. I was nine years old at the time.

The reality is that I have spent no more an accumulated thirty minutes in the company of Richard Sambrook. I don’t claim to know him at all. And yet, there’s a connection.

I’m nothing special, in that I’m not the only one. There are plenty of others who feel the same way. I’m just shameless in being blatant about it.

He somehow seems to represent the kind of BBC I wanted to work for, the Corporation I find myself a part of and the place I hope will nurture the same kind of people. It needs to. An organisation as brilliant to work for as the BBC (yes, I realise I’m biassed) needs people like him otherwise it’s going to get a bit up itself, assuming you don’t think it’s up itself already. Senior people comfortable to connect with the ground-troops. That’s what’s important, vital in fact.

A man in touch with reality. Yeah, we’re pleased for you Mr Sambrook. We’re kind of pleased for your future employers and we wish you luck in your future projects, naturally. But like Tom Baker’s departure from Doctor Who, we just hoped it might have been longer.

And no. I’m not backpedalling. And I’m not licking wotnot either.

Free Thinking Festival: Is Privacy Dead?

Is it wrong to be blogging about an event which has been recorded for radio not intended to be broadcast until Monday 3 November at 9.15pm? Am I revealing something I shouldn’t be even though I know it will happen because I sat in a room and listened to a man tell me and one hundred or so other people ?

It’s a question I’m thinking about having come out of a debate at the Free Thinking Festival which posed the question “Is Privacy Dead?”

In an age of online communities, blogging, micro-blogging and picture sharing, I find myself thinking intensely about my personal activities online. It’s scary. I can’t get it out of my head.

What should I reveal about myself? What do I reveal about myself online? Do I reveal too much? Am I revealing my true self or, a convenient skewed image of myself? Should I be more private? Should I reveal more? Would anybody read anything I wrote if I did?

And if it is I have an online persona and a real one (and personally, I would argue that they are one and the same otherwise both pursuits would be absolutely agony day to day) are there times when I don’t want to participate online ? Are there times when my mood, my insecurities and fears curtail my online activities? Thinking about those specific things, should I in fact be more careful about how I conduct myself online in an act of much-needed self-preservation?

Don’t you loathe people who ask too many questions and can’t/won’t/can’t be bothered to provide any answers? Well, the truth I feel the pressure of time on me. There’s no time to answer the questions even if I knew the answers. It’s a fast moving world. The bar here at the Free Thinking Festival is buzzing – the “Speed Date a Thinker” crowd are busy preparing for their hour of fun and there’s a competition going on between me and another other chap sat across from me busily tapping away at his laptop.

What I’m struck by – yet again – is how a relatively brief session listening to the likes of Bill Thompson, psychologist Sonia Livingstone, Cultural Historian Jonathan Sawday and Geoffrey Rosen has set my mind buzzing with excitement.

The most pointed example raised in the hour long debate hosted by Philip Dodd was this. Geoffrey Rosen explained how some students he knew of would take to live-blogging lectures and seminars. Was this a use of technology which was to be welcomed?

The fact is it’s here. We all do it. Those of us who use the internet rely on opportunities like these. There’s a buzz. A desire to provide a personal response to events as we witness them. We want to share where we are at any given moment in time even if the majority of the audience don’t care or would rather prefer it if we didn’t clog up the internet with our ill-considered babble.

The answer is impossible to arrive at. My interviews kick off in around fifteen minutes time and the speed daters are about to start their speed dating session.

I also have to get this blog published as quickly as possible. I have to beat the bloke sitting opposite me. I know he’s blogging about it. I just know. Why would he look so intently at his laptop in the way he does? I must beat him to it. Seeing as he’s Bill Thompson, the need seems inexplicably even greater.  

Disappointingly it appears I’ve failed. Mind you, it might have helped if I’d been a little less verbose.

You can hear the Free Thinking Debate “Is Privacy Dead?” on Monday 3 November at 9.15pm on BBC Radio 3.