BBC News presenters have been advised to relax their formal clothing code as the network tries to relaunch its 24-hour news channel in an effort to produce more authentic reporting, it has been reported. Naja Nielsen, BBC News’ Director of Digital, reportedly told staff last week that the more rugged “sweaty and dirty” look certain journalists adopt when away from the studio can be more trustworthy.
Ms Nielsen spoke as the BBC moves forward with plans to merge BBC World News with its domestic news channel in order to cut costs and make its rolling news output more appealing to online audiences. Managers argue it is an opportunity to build the best global news channel.
Outlining her vision for the channel, Ms Nielsen told a group of journalists: “It’s a bit like, being as sweaty and dirty as when we’re in the field is actually more trustworthy than if we look like we’ve just stepped out of an awards ceremony or a fine dinner party.”
Some presenters reportedly interpreted this as permission to relax the dress code and ditch formal clothes, according to Deadline, the industry website.
The move comes as the channel tries to appeal to the TikTok youth, with BBC staff encouraged to film more reports on smartphones. Ms Nielsen reportedly told journalists that while her mother was impressed by the studio performance, her children were less impressed.
Tomasz Schafernaker presented the weather with a jacket and T-shirt, while Mark Easton, the BBC’s home affairs editor, wore a suit and trainers. Reporters like Jeremy Bowen began wearing more casual clothes while on the front line in Ukraine.
The relaunched channel will include more links hosted from the heart of the newsroom and “presenters standing in front of giant iPads to show how we verify footage,” an insider told Deadline.
Eight journalists will work as studio presenters and correspondents for the BBC News channel.
Earlier this month, Deadline revealed that 10 of the BBC’s most experienced anchors were told they will not be Chief Presenters on the channel. Those included Annita McVeigh, Ben Brown, and Martine Croxall.
READ MORE: Dan Walker won’t host Channel 5 News after hospital dash
The decision has sparked mixed reactions from Twitter users with some agreeing with Ms Nielsen while others called on the BBC to provide “reliable news”.
The executive producer of The News Agents podcast, Dino Sofos, tweeted: “Finally! Agree with @NajaNielsen2. Have never understood why you need to wear a suit or formal dress to present the news. Just adds another unnecessary barrier between journalists and the audience.”
Twitter user @foxfreckle said: “Don’t care how they look. Just want reliable news.”
Meanwhile, @B31Bowden tweeted: “I haven’t stopped watching the BBC because of what the reporter wears, I stopped because of the news they refuse to tell me, the politicians they refuse to challenge and the Gov’t statements they parrot without comment or criticism. I know I am not alone.”