tobyaw: (Frogmarch 2002 - Whitby)
Newsnight has been a mainstay of my adult television viewing. As a student in the early 90s, I started to find my own taste in news, rather than following the choices of my parents. I increasingly found the BBC1 evening news too light, wanting something that could offer more depth of investigation and discussion. I spent some years as a fan of the Channel 4 News, but eventually settled on Newsnight as my choice. The presenters worked well for me, particularly Jeremy Paxman, Peter Snow, and Kirsty Wark. Recent additions to the line-up are good too — Emily Maitlis is appealing, and it is good to see Eddie Mair on the television after years of listening to him on Radio 4.

But now Newsnight is in a pickle of its own making.

Last year they failed to complete and broadcast a report that was being prepared about Jimmy Savile. Maybe the editor genuinely got cold feet, or maybe he was leaned on from above to drop the story… either way, it smells bad when the BBC appears to be covering up reporting of the crimes of its former stars. Even looking generously at the situation, it appears that both the investigation and the reporters involved were mismanaged. This was recoverable — the editor might be sacked and there could be a change in BBC guidance, but there should be no lasting damage to Newsnight.

Last week, however, disaster struck in the form of what turns out to be a shoddy piece of journalism, alleging that a former senior Tory was a paedophile. In a much-trailed report, Newsnight held back from naming him, but left him as the subject of a flurry of online speculation and innuendo, fuelled by the actions of bloggers and journalists who should have known better.

It now turns out that Newsnight’s source, while a genuine victim, has been widely known to be an unreliable witness since inquiries in the late 1990s. Newsnight failed to confirm the identification that the victim made, failed to notice that details of the abuser didn’t match the alleged perpetrator, and failed to put the allegations to the person that they were alluding to.

Why did they do this? Maybe it was an overcompensation for having been accused of ignoring the Savile allegations; they desperately wanted to believe a victim and to unmask a paedophile. Or maybe they thought that bringing a historic child-abuse story back into the public eye would deflect attention away from their recent troubles.

Their shelved report into Savile was, at worst, a sin of omission, but this is much more serious. Last week’s report was shoddily researched, told lies, harmed the character of what appears to be an innocent man, and has opened up the BBC to potential legal action.

Can Newsnight recover from this? Probably, but no doubt there will be changes. Perhaps we will see an end to their investigative reporting, and instead they will concentrate on their strengths with topical discussions and interviews.

In the mean time, Eddie Mair brilliantly presented tonight’s rather down-beat edition, giving every impression that he is personally disappointed in Newsnight, and ending with the words “Newsnight will be back on Monday… probably…”
location: St Andrews, Scotland
tobyaw: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] tobyaw at 11:15pm on 15/06/2010 under ,
I don’t know whether it was my eyes glazing over due to the subject matter, or a camera operator who’d had too many, but the close-ups of the candidates during the Labour leadership debate kept slipping in and out of focus.
location: St Andrews, Scotland
tobyaw: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] tobyaw at 11:15pm on 15/06/2010 under ,
I don’t know whether it was my eyes glazing over due to the subject matter, or a camera operator who’d had too many, but the close-ups of the candidates during the Labour leadership debate kept slipping in and out of focus.
location: St Andrews, Scotland
tobyaw: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] tobyaw at 11:36pm on 05/01/2010 under , , ,
Today was my first day back into work this year. Andrew drove me into Dundee as usual; the roads were okay this morning but muckier and slippier on the way home this evening. I’m glad that it looks like I’ll be working at home for the next few days. I’m very glad the snow didn’t disrupt out Christmas travel (when we got the train down to Kent before Christmas there was chaos on the roads and airports were closed — rail was definitely the way to travel), and we met my parents in Carlisle yesterday to collect Beth without bother. She is back to school tomorrow.

Beth has been enjoying playing with all her Christmas presents. Her Stylophone makes an agreeably annoying noise. Kate’s father posted a parcel to us full of the Christmas presents we couldn’t fit in our luggage for the journey home; it arrived today but we haven’t opened it yet.

I watched Newsnight this evening; it is at its best when Paxman is presenting. And I chose to go with Newsnight Scotland at 11pm, rather than switching to BBC2 England. Oh, what choices we have. Now BBC2 is showing darts, and I have become aware in the last few minutes that I really don’t know how the game works. Must be time for bed.

Beth is glad to see the snow. There wasn’t any in Kent, and not much in Nottingham. Driving might be a pain, but at least the days are getting longer.
location: KY16 8JY
tobyaw: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] tobyaw at 11:36pm on 05/01/2010 under , , ,
Today was my first day back into work this year. Andrew drove me into Dundee as usual; the roads were okay this morning but muckier and slippier on the way home this evening. I’m glad that it looks like I’ll be working at home for the next few days. I’m very glad the snow didn’t disrupt out Christmas travel (when we got the train down to Kent before Christmas there was chaos on the roads and airports were closed — rail was definitely the way to travel), and we met my parents in Carlisle yesterday to collect Beth without bother. She is back to school tomorrow.

Beth has been enjoying playing with all her Christmas presents. Her Stylophone makes an agreeably annoying noise. Kate’s father posted a parcel to us full of the Christmas presents we couldn’t fit in our luggage for the journey home; it arrived today but we haven’t opened it yet.

I watched Newsnight this evening; it is at its best when Paxman is presenting. And I chose to go with Newsnight Scotland at 11pm, rather than switching to BBC2 England. Oh, what choices we have. Now BBC2 is showing darts, and I have become aware in the last few minutes that I really don’t know how the game works. Must be time for bed.

Beth is glad to see the snow. There wasn’t any in Kent, and not much in Nottingham. Driving might be a pain, but at least the days are getting longer.
location: KY16 8JY
tobyaw: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] tobyaw at 11:03pm on 26/06/2009 under ,
Sometimes I feel that that I’m out of sync with the world. Newsnight has just dedicated a whole programme to talking about Michael Jackson. Was he really that important? Do people care that much, or is this hype by the media on a slow news day? Do we really need to hear the emergency phone call that summoned his ambulance played on the BBC’s flagship serious news programme?

The peak of Jackson’s career was twenty-five years ago, and he has been best know in recent years for his legal, medical and financial problems. Pure tabloid fodder. Maybe people are drawn in by the story of a rich and successful performer turning into a tragedy of his own making.

I spent this morning listening to some of his albums. Didn’t do much for me.
location: KY16 8JY
tobyaw: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] tobyaw at 10:54pm on 09/06/2009 under ,
…and coming to the conclusion that the only thing worse than a fascist is an anti-fascist.
location: KY16 8JY

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