Inform, educate and entertain was the old Reithian view of the BBC. Whilst continuing to be a worthwhile mission, it does sound a little ‘paternal’ or top-down for today’s world. It was refreshing to hear a new personal view of what the BBC needs to do today from Seetha Kumar – online access champion and controller BBC Online – in a presentation at BBC Wales I attended yesterday. In response to a question, she repeated this paragraph from her presentation to the Skills for Life conference on 3 November:
“The Reithian tradition of inform, educate and entertain is as true today as it was over 80 years ago. In the world of the internet, and e-skills, the skills for life we all need are the abilities to understand, participate in and influence the world around us. How else do you make sense of it?” – Seetha Kumar (my bold)
What I like about the second and third elements of this definition is that they throw the light of activity, not passivity, on the people the BBC has traditionally thought of as its ‘audience’. It’s a definition that draws its influence from principles of media literacy. My personal opinion is that by facilitating participation and the ability to influence, the BBC will make an important strategic change that will benefit the UK’s citizens.