The Matrix Project is an effort to document personal factors that undermine powerful journalists’ claims of objectivity and impartiality. Are factors such as an elite education, establishment connections, personal wealth and interests in rival fields compatible with journalistic integrity?
This page looks at BBC journalist Fiona Bruce. For more information on the database click here.
Learn about the significance of a private/Oxbridge education here
Fiona Bruce attended state and international schools then studied French and Italian at Hertford College, Oxford (source)
Learn about the significance of the Revolving Door here
Fiona Bruce worked “in management consultancy for one of the top firms” for a year (source)
Fiona also worked in advertising, where “she met her husband, Nigel Sharrocks, who was the director at the agency where she was working” (source)
Learn about the significance of Establishment Connections here
Fiona Bruce’s father was a high ranking businessman, regional managing director of Unilever (2017 turnover 53.7 billion euros) (source)
Fiona Bruce’s husband Nigel Sharrocks is CEO of the marketing company Aegis Group Northern Europe which represents companies with cumulative turnover of £500 billion (source 1) (source 2) – Sharrocks was previously CEO of Carat Global Management (source), which in 2014 won a £550 million UK government contract with a brief that included “handling media buying for all Government departments” (source)
- How’s that for a potential conflict of interest – Fiona Bruce reading the news while her husband’s company tries to manage it on behalf of the UK government?
Salary/Indications of Wealth
Learn about the significance of journalists with an unusual level of wealth here
Fiona Bruce was the 5th highest earner on the BBC’s “stars salaries” list in 2020-21 with an annual salary of £405,000-£409,999 (source)
As a point of reference, the Office for National Statistics list the average UK salary for 2021 as £26,193
Fiona Bruce also “charges up to £25,000 as an after-dinner speaker” and “was previously forced to pull out of a speaking engagement at a conference held by a company that had been accused of inadvertently helping criminals to obtain passports” (source). Incidents likes this led to BBC Director General Tim Davie introducing a public register in which BBC journalists must disclose details of outside earnings (source)
Complaints / apologies / controversies
Learn about the significance of complaints/apologies here
“Lower-skilled jobs” apology – the BBC issued an apology after Fiona Bruce stated while reading the news that “people in lower-skilled jobs such as security guards, care workers and bus drivers are amongst those most likely to die from coronavirus according to new data.” A number of viewers wrote to complain about the description of such important jobs as low-skilled (source)
Fiona Bruce had an Oxbridge education, worked in business and both her husband and father are wealthy businessmen. She earns close to 20 times the salary of the average Briton and tops this off with £25K a pop speaking engagements.
Impartial? Independent? Holding the powerful to account?
Learn more about the Matrix Project here.
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