We congratulate Sally-Ann Wilson, our Secretary-General, who has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Business Administration from the University of Bedfordshire for outstanding services to broadcasting.
Sally-Ann, whose career includes 20 years as a BBC factual producer, said in her acceptance speech yesterday that she was honoured to receive an award for work that has brought her so many opportunities. “My role as a journalist has given me permission to be curious, to enquire and press for answers from those in authority,” she said.
“And by producing and directing wildlife films I’ve been able to convey to wide audiences my passion and sense of wonder for the wild places of the planet.”
She remarked that her career would have been very different if it had been outside the public broadcasting system. “It is said that he who pays the piper plays the tune,” she pointed out, “and in a commercial or state-controlled media system both investigative journalism and high-quality, long-timescale natural history productions are rare.”
Sally-Ann added that as the head of an organisation about to broaden beyond the Commonwealth to become a global association of Public Service Broadcasters, it was more important than ever to support public media around the world and recognise the universal challenges they face.
“Public media is a space that works because it is accountable to those that pay for it, and trusted because of the high standards it sets,” she said.
“And like all of you I’m excited by the new possibilities of digital media, which give a voice to more people than ever, but I am also deeply concerned that media freedom globally is being steadily but rapidly eroded. The critical skill that we all require for democracy to work is sound editorial judgment. In a crowded media space, we as practitioners must be able to focus and select.
“The true tests for any open and trusted public media space remain: public interest and public value. For media to be truly democratic we must all mediate fairly and edit wisely.”
“Above all else, we need to remember how to listen,” she concluded.
Image: Ede and Ravenscroft Photography