BBC news - especially in television - received a severe jolt in 1987, with the arrival of John Birt from London Weekend as deputy DG.
At the time, the news and current affairs department at Broadcasting House was able to call on an army of overseas correspondents spread across the world. In contrast, only a handful worked directly for TV. Radio also had far more specialist home correspondents. Only those based at Westminster worked for both radio and television.
It appeared to Birt that the Television Service had "starved" TV news of resources. There was "no single and coherent overview of the BBC's journalism," he wrote later. Many of the news staff, he said, had "long since ceased to think enquiringly".
Birt set out on to impose a policy of radical change. Promotions went mainly to those of "energy and confidence" from a younger generation; many additional specialist correspondents were recruited; it was the end of the road for what he called "the green-eyeshade tendency".
"Bi-mediaism" was the watchword: correspondents at home and abroad were to work for both TV and radio. It emerged later that there were doubts about the policy among some of those most closely involved - including Jenny Abramsky, chosen by Birt to help "marshal the young lions".
The autumn of 1988 brought more problems for the BBC - when the government barred broadcasters from using the voices of anyone representing "organisations associated with terrorism in Northern Ireland". The ban was a "low point for British democracy", Birt believed.
Awaiting his elevation to director general, he also made the decision to "bite the bullet" on the World Service - as the old External Services had now become. It was to be "drawn wholeheartedly into the new BBC-wide structure".
The creation of the specialist reporting teams was one of the most significant legacies of Birt's stewardship of BBC News. He would later be one of the driving forces behind the launch of the continuous news services - Radio 5 Live, News Online and BBC News 24.