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Runners and riders

Thanks to a reader for sending me this story which contains the latest gossip on those shortlisted for the BBC Science Editor's job.

So, stepping up to the plate we have Susan Watts, from Newsnight; Richard Black, with a World Service pedigree (which will please Biased BBC); Fergus Walsh, natty handwaver from the Six O'Clock News; David Shukman, enamoured of ice floes and the USA, grandee of the 10 O'Clock bulletin, and survivor of the Oryx gaffe of 2001. 

...the "outside" candidate, (outside News, at least) is Michael Mosley, producer and presenter of science programmes including Horizon, Medical Mavericks, Inside the Human Body and The Story of Science. PPE from New College, Oxford, a later training in psychiatry, and now gracing the One Show sofa on medical topics - got to be worth a punt.


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Reader Comments (30)

Anybody with a decent science background?

What about Roger Harrabin, is he out (was he in) of the running?

Jan 7, 2012 at 11:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Whilst we're placing our bets, what are the odds on somebody without any scientific training getting the job?

Jan 7, 2012 at 11:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

What's science got to do with the BBC Science Editor?

The job is propaganda for Common Purpose, the Fabians and the Marxists.

Jan 7, 2012 at 12:08 PM | Unregistered Commentermydogsgotnonose

Active science being something of a shambles interspersed with spikes of brilliant clarity, those with a scientific background might not be well-suited to the smooth presentation of whatever the BBC directors believe is the correct storyline (narrative) to present to the public. The general shambles of what can be included in the net of 'climate science' is possibly best presented by someone adept with the juggling of incoming press releases from respected corporations such as the WWF who have already cut through the muddle and extracted the correct line. Imagine the harm if the public were instead fed a muddled tale of sloppy data analysis, careless reasoning, virtual-reality fanaticism, shameless opportunism, sneaky grant-seeking, duplicity, error, politicking and even of the occasional contrary case of great substance weakening the correct line.

Jan 7, 2012 at 12:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

The Beeb wants a science editor?

Who knew ... !

I think they'll be best served with a young, pretty recent graduate in Meejah and PR studies. She'll have nothing more taxing to do than copy and paste the various PR stuff coming from the IPCC, The Team and their pal-reviewed journals, and those from WWF and Greenpeas.
She won't need a high-grade salary, so saving the Beeb a lot of money.

Jan 7, 2012 at 1:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterViv Evans

Facile Fergus? You cannot be serious!

Jan 7, 2012 at 1:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve

No doubt the main thrust of the Job Description is:
'Here's what you going to think....'

Jan 7, 2012 at 2:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

@John Shade, Jan 7, 2012 at 12:27 PM :
I'm sure the average Radio Four audience would love what you describe, but the BBC's not interested in providing good radio when they've got agendas to push.

Jan 7, 2012 at 4:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn in France

They already made a mistake with David Whitehouse PhD, they won't do it again. As in ministerial posts, incompetence is key.

Jan 7, 2012 at 4:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterMaurizio Morabito

The beeb wants a science editor?

How about Jeremy Clarkson?

Jan 7, 2012 at 5:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

Who is the current science editor?

Jan 7, 2012 at 5:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Longstaff

Has any of these Numpties actually got a science degree?

If so was it from the University of Easy Access?

Jan 7, 2012 at 7:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller


Susan Watts has a degree in Physics. Mosley in psychiatry or something like that.

Jan 7, 2012 at 7:21 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Bish. One out of five then. Not enough for a shortlist, based on "relevant qualifications".

However the Beeb has often demonstrated that it works in "mysterious ways".

Jan 7, 2012 at 8:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

Who needs qualifications, they're obviously well versed in the important subjects, doublethink and propaganda. Then again, who among us could argue the point articulately enough to banish the groupthink? We should just accept our place and pay our carbon indulgences like those devout sainted green souls do instead of being jealous of their zeal for saving Gaia. Face it, science just doesn't cut it, empirical evedince be damned. You must change your way of thinking lest you venture towards thoughtcrime. It';s not that I love big brother, but big brother loves me, and only an inhuman animal wouldn't love him back.

Jan 7, 2012 at 8:28 PM | Unregistered Commenternano pope

Black or Shukman as the 'Science Editor' of anything? I cannot imagine that the BBC, with its ho ho under such scrutiny, would dare put either of these unqualified propagandists into that position.

Or is this the 'Voodoo Science Editor'?

Seems the problem for the BBC is that if they did have even a slightly objective science editor that person would have too much work to do and most of the BBC's recent reporting would have been deleted.

Jan 7, 2012 at 8:54 PM | Unregistered Commenteredward getty

Susan Watts has a degree in Physics....
Jan 7, 2012 at 7:21 PM Bishop Hill

Yes Bish - I had hopes for her for a while, until I saw her fawning piece with the infamous spliced tape after Obama's election - "..scientists calculate that President Obama has just four years to save the world" .

Then there was a trip she made to the US to investigate shale gas fracking - where she completely swallowed the "fracking makes flames shoot out of your water taps" propaganda.

I'm afraid she's just another BBC pod person.

Jan 7, 2012 at 9:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterFoxgoose

To answer my own question, it seems that the current science editor at the BBC is Paul Rincon. Anybody know anything about him?

Jan 7, 2012 at 10:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Longstaff

Appears to specialise in space, particle physics & evolution.

Won the Arthur C Clarke award for space reporting in 2009 and did most of the CERN Higgs Boson stuff.

Seems to be "clean" so far on climate ;-)

Jan 7, 2012 at 10:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterFoxgoose

I'd vote for Michael Mosley, hands down, no question. His History of Science and Medical Mavericks were terrific shows, taking great joy in man's ability to understand and shape the world. I'd wager Michael Mosley would not be fooled by Michael Mann, Phil Jones, Kevin Tremberth, Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, James Hansen, Gabriel Hegerl and the rest of the other clowns in the climate change science circus. Mosley's too much an empiricist to buy their brand of modelled b-ll---t and too much of an historian to fall for the their 'unprecedented' and alarmist crap.

Jan 7, 2012 at 10:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterWB

Susan Watts?

A sample

Jan 7, 2012 at 11:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

Told you.

She's a pod person.

Jan 7, 2012 at 11:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterFoxgoose

Whenever I try researching anybody at the BBC, I'm always amazed afresh by just how many of the buggers there are.

The list of BBC staff consultees in Steve Jone's pathetic "science impartiality ho-ho" report alone ran to two pages and around 50 people.

After a little work on Wikipedia - I can confidently pronounce that the BBC could comfortably populate the town of Newbury - although I'm not sure they'd enjoy it.

Jan 7, 2012 at 11:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterFoxgoose


Won the Arthur C Clarke award for space reporting in 2009 and did most of the CERN Higgs Boson stuff.

Hopefully he will throw some light on the speed of neutrinos being expatriated to Italy and the Paparazzi effect of the Higgs field.

Sound terribly overqualified, however.

My guess is Susan who thinks that there is a standing wave of heat energy caused by back scattering of IR radiation from the CO2 shield of death encircling the world. Much more like a Beeber

Jan 8, 2012 at 1:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

That is good, Don Pablo, your 'CO2 shield of death encircling the world'.

I suspect if we could do some kind kind of FOIA-style extraction of mental images from the entire collection of brains in the BBC, search it for global warming stuff, and home-in on imagery, we'd find something like your phrase very handy for capturing the artistic essence of much of what we found.

Jan 8, 2012 at 10:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade


It shows that the BBC still haven't got the point. How can they be so clueless.

The Jones report identified problems that it said a science editor would solve. So what does the BBC do - shortlist the very same cast of characters that caused the problems in the first place!

I could be cynical in saying that giving someone a change of title would save them finding the money for a new salary.

and in essence what would this new 'editor' do that isn't done by the correspondents in practice - nothing.

The fact that there are no outside candidates speaks volumes about the dire state of science journalism in the Uk and the attractiveness of working for the BBC.

as for the runners and the riders. I am so glad that Roger Harrabin isn't on it. Could it be due to the recent revelations of his extensive behind the scenes activities which are fundamentally incompatible with fair journalism. I'm pleased that the lac lustre and unimpressive Pallab Ghosh isn't there.

Susan Watts - please no - she never missed the chance to sensationalise a story.
Fergus - don't believe him.
Richard Black - see other entires in the blog -totally unsuitable.
Shukman - the cause of the problems in the first place.
Mosley - not from news - nothing special about him, a token candidate.

Quite a motley bunch.

As for Paul Rincon, he's a website only editor, and has never written anything remotely more than run of the mill.

BBC News clueless about science.

Re Maurizo's comment. I saw Dr Whitehouse this morning on BBC Breakfast News talking about stephen hawking. Well...head and shoulders above the shabby short list.

Jan 8, 2012 at 6:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterGary

I'm afraid that WB might be sadly disappointed in Michael Mosley for this post, as might be evidenced . by a reference I made to him in my recent report for the Global Warming Policy Foundation, A Triple Betrayal: The BBC and Climate Change,
In a section on Channel 4's The Great Global Warming Swindle (2007), I wrote,
...this was just how Durkin’s programme had come about in the first place. He had challenged the trivialising one-sidedness of media reporting on climate change at a meeting of the World Congress of Science Producers in Tokyo in 2006. Why, he asked, were the world’s major television networks paying so little attention to the serious doubts being expressed about the ‘consensus’ view by so many reputable scientists? His question was angrily rejected by Michael Mosley, a senior BBC science producer, on the grounds that there were no reputable scientists who disagreed with the consensus,

It was therefore suggested that Durkin and Mosley should debate the issue in front of their professional colleagues at a subsequent meeting of the Congress in New York. So forcefully did Durkin argue his case that many producers were surprised to find themselves agreeing that he had a point. Following this episode, Channel 4 commissioned Durkin to make The Great Global Warming Swindle,[1]


[1] Private information from Martin Durkin, reported in The Real Global Warming Disaster, op,cit.,p.211.

Not only was Durkin's film thus prompted by Mosley's fanatical commitment to the BBC orthodody on global warming, but so enraged was the BBC made by it in turn that this prompted them in 2008 to make that lamentably propaganidst series Climate Wars, the second programme of which was intended to be a riposte to Durkin. Not that one can see the remotest sign that the BBC is going to change its ways on this issue, but Mosley would certainly be the last man to do it,

Jan 8, 2012 at 10:33 PM | Unregistered Commenterchristopher booker

I'm not sure I can say 'thanks for that' Christopher Booker, but appreciate the comment nevertheless. I wonder if Mosley 2012 is still an alarmist a la Mosley 2007. The thing to keep in mind is that 2007 was IPCC AR4, the very height of global warming climate change hottercoldermeltyfreezy alarmism, journos the world over were publishing utter shite about climate (and I am in Oz and we definitely had hysterical shrieking in our press here) and "the Team" had done a slap bang job of keeping out any kind of non-groupthink from popular press. The rise of skeptic blogs and the traction of tireless efforts of McIntyre etc all post date 2007. I'd rather Mosley had never adopted the consensus view to start with but I wonder if his scholarship has led him to change his tune now. Hope so.

Jan 8, 2012 at 11:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterWB

Don Pablo

Rincon did win the 2009 Arthur C Clarke award for space reporting, by which time they were running out of people to give it to.

But guess who won the very first Arthur C Clarke award for space reporting, Beating Patrick Moore and Reg Turnhill into 2nd and 3rd place!

Jan 8, 2012 at 11:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterGary

Couldn't they recruit that nice Asian lady that does the weather/destination reports on Sky..?
I'd believe EVERY word she said...!

Jan 9, 2012 at 12:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

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