Saturday, 25 February 2012

Naming names...

I don't want to keep banging on about why it's important to identify the judges in any awards ceremony that wants to be taken seriously (I've gone into it in great detail in past posts) but here's a very interesting development which holds out some hope for a brighter, more open approach to judging the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards (R2FA).

One of the reasons given for not identifying the R2FA judges was that it would "expose them (the judges) to lobbying or intimidation". Mike Harding claimed that this was the reason that some other awards did not identify their judges either. He specifically named the Sony Radio Academy Awards as one such.

That was on November 24th 2011.  On December 9th 2011, it was announced that the 2012 Sony Radio Academy Awards were to be produced by Smooth Operations ... the commercial production company behind both Mike Harding's Radio 2 show and the R2FAs. It has now been announced that the Sony judges are being identified - in fact, you can see their names, photos and biographies on the Sony Radio Academy Awards website.

The Sony Radio Academy Awards website
Well well ... what a coincidence! 

Sony further state: "...we take the business of judging seriously, carefully selecting and balancing each panel and doing all that we can to ensure as robust and transparent a process as possible."

Quite right. This is all we have ever asked of the R2FAs. It's also what the BBC's own editorial guidelines on running awards ceremonies call for ("Criteria for judging or nominations must be transparent, clear, fair and consistent") – so why all that stuff and nonsense about "intimidation" or "lobbying"?

Janet Ellis is a Sony judge. Anyone feeling intimidated yet?
After all, lobbying (aka allowing judges to hear all relevant music) is perfectly normal in awards. It happens all the time at such events as the Oscars. It probably happens at the R2FAs, too - but only by those people who know who the judges are, and that's one of the reasons why keeping identities secret is wrong.

Intimidation is another matter, of course. It's completely out of bounds. It's also illegal - so, if it happens, call the police.

Now that Smooth Operations - via the Sonys - have at long last acknowledged (or been shown) that identifying judges is vital 'to ensure as robust and transparent a process as possible', it would be inconceivable that they would do anything less for the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards next year. Right? 

We await further developments...

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