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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 May 2006, 17:17 GMT 18:17 UK
Feedback - May 2006
What do you think of the stories we have covered? Do you have anything to say about the programme or the issues of the day? You can read and send us your views from this page.

This month:

Podcast - who's listening?
Mark Oaten
New set
Paxman swears
The Big Read-All-About-It
Criminal justice
Digitally removed cello
Animal rights campaigners
Local elections

Write to us

The e-mails published reflect the balance of opinion received.

Podcast - who's listening?

I have just listened to the Newsnight podcast of 26 May and heard Jeremy asking whether anyone who was listening was a license payer. Happy to report that I am! I am on a short term assignment in Sweden, therefore unable to access the BBC via the regular sources. It is great to be able to download the podcasts. I only wish that it was possible to watch BBC programmes on the internet from abroad, but the message from the BBC when I try is that due to the cost of streaming internationally it is only available to people in the UK as they pay for it. Obviously rather frustrating as I do!
Gordon Deas, Stockholm, Sweden

In response to Jeremy Paxman's question this week in the podcast, yes I do listen it, I do pay the licence fee and long may the podcasts continue.
David Bates, Fareham

Yes Jeremy - I am one of those people who listen to the Newsnight podcast - I also happen to catch most of the week's output as well - live. You ask who pays the license fee to download? Well I certainly do and what's more, as a BBC taxpayer, I do not object to other non-UK based downloaders getting it for free. I see this as a useful contribution to our international development effort and as a shop window on the UK. Chill out Paxo!
Graham Moore, Leeds

Jeremy Paxman was asking how many of us podcast listeners pay the license fee. As a Belgian I do not pay "the" license fee, and actually I don't even know whether my cable subscriptions (BBC One, Two, Prime and World) include a license payment to the BBC. But is Jeremy not a bit too cynical about the service the BBC gives to the British fee-payer? The BBC probably does far more to spread British values and political objectives around the world than the Foreign Office. As for the podcast, personally I listen to it because here Newsnight starts at 23:30 and runs past midnight; so I only watch on TV if there is an especially interesting subject.
Emmanuel Gustin, Mechelen, Belgium

Can Paxman stop being so boringly cynical about the podcast. For those of us living abroad it is a valuable and much appreciated service. People who listen to the world service don't pay the license fee either and this does not make it any more invalid.
George Turner, Bologna, Italy

Mark Oaten [23 MAY 06]

Mark Oaten

I was extremely disappointed with the leading item on last night's programme. Although Mark Oaten deserves to present his side of his fall from grace I don't think it should have been the first item on Newsnight, he should not have been given 15 minutes and his dubious justification for his actions should absolutely have been questioned afterwards. I found it very surprising that after his rather self-indulgent film he wasn't given a grilling by Jeremy Paxman in the studio.
Dan Beaumont, London

I am watching the start of Newsnight, hoping to hear recent stories unpicked and elaborated upon. I have since switched off as I don't agree that the story of Mark Oaten, told by the man himself constitutes good journalism. The trip to a shrink was my cut off point, I am sure there is space in television schedules for this kind of programme, but Newsnight is not the correct forum.
C Byk, London

Mark Oaten package - news or shameless self-publicity?
Candide, Manchester

Poor, poor Mark Oaten. MPs are rewarded so highly and then we're supposed to feel so sorry for them because they think they are so special in self destructing. Typical self inflated importance stuff. And please! Freudian? Was that the producer's idea so we could get a nice picture of Freud's couch? Oh dear. Still, well done Oaten. It's his first step in a come back. But oh dear Newsnight, a sloppy ill researched, and unenlightening piece.
Gary Kinsky, London

Mark Oaten Speaks of his relief at having to resign over the scandal allegations that surrounded him. The fact still remains he still has a job a well paid job - someone else would probably lose their job completely and face the dole. These politicians live in cloud cuckoo land. Reality escapes them. At least he got on National television in an attempt to justify himself. Thousands are just left with nothing but their shame
John Keith, Paisley

The result was, I think, a rare and extraordinary insight into the pressures and temptations involved in political life at Westminster
Peter Barron, Newsnight Editor

Mark Oaten's piece opening the programme was problematic in so many ways - and I think that you know that or you would have debated it afterwards - which begs questions concerning whether you should have run it at all. Quite apart from the analytical tangles, and even if we accept a valid causal comparison for the likes of Blunkett, Prescott and Oaten, this is an issue of good journalism on your part. Flicking through an introduction to Freud, and gaining from it a rudimentary understanding of a normative psychoanalytical model, does not qualify an individual to understand their still recent behaviour. The piece showed a man trying to construct a history to his own actions which, following on the back of claiming baldness was the cause, and given that he's heading into a reality TV show, suggest that this is a man with quite a lot left to work through before returning to the public eye - two year's disappearance IS necessary - for personal rather than image-relaunch reasons. Occasional IT technicians/taxi drivers aside, you are not in the habit of letting your guests speak off the territory of their particular specialism - so why let Mark Oaten report on something which may be his experience, but as a result, is far from a dispassionate subject for a documentary report. As I say - you are not in the habit of letting your contributors away unquestioned - I think you know this piece was problematic - but it would have been cruel to pick up on something so personal. Put most simply, you should not run something you are not prepared to challenge, however exclusive it may be.
Ben Tait, London

New set [22 MAY 06]

Jeremy and guests on set
Day one and Jeremy grills the contestants in the Newsnight house
I think your new look is easier to read and I certainly like the stories that you have chosen. I have always admired your work and wish you well.
Sally A. Rucker, Olympia, USA

I think you all just look ducky. Kind of smart like. It looks super to me.
Richard C Goswick, Georgia, USA

Disappointed. Was that the set from ITV? I was hoping for bold, different, new. All I saw was distracting backdrops and the foolish walk along the set with graphics gimmick, just like ITN. Are you competing with Big Brother now. What's next the diary room with Paxman? Newsnight is the only real current affairs programme on TV, please don't dumb down and follow the crowd.
Samuel Marchant, London

Very impressive.
Jack Deans, Bangor, County Down

Erm.....where's Jeremy Paxman gone in that set? Oh, there he is...a tiny figure just visible off the left hand side of the screen and about an inch up from the bottom of the frame. Call me old-fashioned, but I always thought the set was there to back the presenter, not the other way round. Still, I'm sure it was a jolly expensive set, so best show it, I suppose. But if the director and camera operator could see their way clear to bringing the host back somewhere near the centre of the picture at some time, it'd be nice.
Michael Williams, London

I am very sad that you have decided to interfere so appallingly with the presentation of news on your programme. Poor Mr. Paxman had to compete with a row of jiggling empty test tubes in his opening remarks, and the film on the drugs trials was utterly ruined by tricksy camera angles, speeded-up frames,irrelevant silhouetting of subjects etc. Your news programme was the best on TV. It has now been horribly compromised,just for the sake of what the computer can do. Use technology to help, not hinder.
Peter Ashley, England

Very professional - I compliment you.
John M. Dunlap, Missouri, USA

Guys...from the pictures it looks like something for robots to use...way to warmth...and PLEASE don`t have Paxo and all standing up! But...importantly...good and hard news stories and I'll put up with progress! Cheers on being the best news programme...
Paul Alker, Lytham St. Annes

I think the new graphics and studio design are superb. Just a pity the opening graphics are not a few seconds longer so we could appreciate the talent that went into their production.
Fred Smedley, Bristol


Jeremy Paxman
Jeremy thanks both our viewers
Claimed that Jeremy Paxman said the word 'bollocks'.
Anonymous caller to BBC switchboard

What's up with Paxman? Even more sarcastic that ever. Last night he thanked the two viewers of the show, and swore at the end of the programme. Is bollocks an allowed swear word? To be honest only reason I am contacting you is just in case the other viewer was offended by his language, and this postive comment will then cancel it out. Wouldn't it be great if he could just ask Tony or one of his other useless chums "Why are you crap at your job?", "Or why are you talking bollocks?" Lets face it Newsnight is not for kids, so why can't its delivery and format be more honest?
M Griffiths, Stoke On Trent


Germaine Greer
Germaine Greer: A "standard issue arty lefty"?
There seems to be some confusion in the shortlisted "front pages". Some of them are undoubtedly significant events, but not necessarily memorable front pages. And where's "All this and Everest too"?
Dee Walker, UK

"The Big Read-all-about-it" would be more enjoyable if your editorial staff selected as advocates people who know what they are talking about. Germaine Greer's presentation on "Gotcha!" took an interesting and pertinent topic regarding the sensationalisation of war and the detachment of the public back home from the reality of it and then proceeded to lard it with an array of highly dubious interpretation (ask anybody who actually knows anything about naval warfare whether the sinking of the Belgrano "epitomised overkill" and you'll soon be put straight) and outright factual error. For the record, the Belgrano did not go down with all hands, over two thirds of the crew survived. Among this number was the ship's captain, who recently testified that the ship was, in fact, hunting for the Royal Navy taskforce and that he didn't understand what the controversy in the UK over its sinking was all about (this attitude is near universal within the Argentine armed forces). The sensationalisation of warfare and the fact that "Gotcha!" was a pretty grotty, inhumane headline are eminently interesting topics. What a pity that the BBC chose to wheel out one of the standard issue arty lefties to make the case, rather than somebody who actually knows their stuff. Ho hum.
Anthony Cormack, London


Re last night's piece on the judicial system, and the judge on the panel, how political are judges to be? Isn't a plank of the UK Constitution, under the political, executive and judicial split, that judges stay out of politics and are paid to do so? Isn't a measure of the (in)efficiency of the opposition Home Office spokesmen that judges feel it necessary to appear?
Will Charlton, Winsford

A pity your feature on law and order tonight didn't try and address "and the causes of crime" - in particular the growing disparity in wealth (and obscene wealth) in the UK.
Dave Sutton, Bristol

A most important debate this evening about the criminal justice system. Here is a philosophical concept that would be clearly appropriate. It should be decreed that any human being that wilfully violates the human rights of another should automatically forfeit their own. This would be clearly understood by the public, even by criminals and lawyers alike. How is that for a subject of discussion?
George Bekes, Whitstable and Vaux Chaumard France

One of the key components of the delivery of injustice is the lack of decision making skills within the jury. Some mechanism for monitoring the discussion is needed to ensure the matters are properly considered otherwise criminals are recycled. No wonder they will bring ridiculous defences to trial as the chance of getting a jury that's incapable of resolving the issues is significantly high. The costs are borne by the state and our time and taxes are wasted.
Terry McAndrew, Leeds


The cellist with his cello digitally removed
Some Newsnight viewers fail to be convinced that this musician is really playing a cello
Man playing a cello "digitally removed"? Pull the other one, Mr Paxman. That man looks more like a dancer or mime artist than a musician. His hands and arms aren't touching a cello or a bow, invisible or no ... it's a joke, n'est-ce-pas, alors. Ha ha!
Alan Fairweather, Church Crookham, Hants

Forgive me if I'm being dense - it's late at night and the kids will wake me early - but did I just hear Jeremy announcing that the miming cellist is a real musician and his instrument has been digitally removed? Total bollocks. That guy is not a cellist - I know: I'm a cellist for a living and that was a good mime, but nothing more. Just thought you'd like to know. (Makes me doubtful as to whether I should believe everything you say!) Best wishes, and thanks for entertaining, as always, except for the interminable round-table discussions. I was too lazy to switch off tonight.
Warwick Cole (Dr!), Cheltenham

You can find out more about the Sam Taylor-Wood exhibition, Still Lives, on the BALTIC website - click here

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He combined fairness with a necessarily strong hand to maintain order, and ensured that 'tittle tattle on the internet' wasn't presented as fact
I thought that JP was a bit rude to the animal rights activist. He snapped at him when the activist distanced himself from the campaign to expose GSK shareholders, and he attacked the activist for raising the question of GSK's tests of HIV drugs on orphans in New York. JP referred to this as "internet tittle tattle" but I see from doing a Google search today that it was reported by the Guardian newspaper. JP also told the interviewee that he shouldn't raise something that JP was not aware of before the interview. And yet I have seen JP throw "curved ball" questions himself on numerous occassions.
Mark, Oxted

Jeremy rocks! He handled the animal liberation interviews brilliantly, as ever. He combined fairness with a necessarily strong hand to maintain order, and ensured that "tittle tattle on the internet" wasn't presented as fact. He is unique in being able to handle contentious situations like this. Good on ya, Jeremy.

This was a poor and unbalanced interview - it did not help me understand the issues any better, I just ended up feeling sorry for a person I would normally disapprove of
Mike Foster
It was typical of Mr Paxman to take the "establishment line" on animal testing last night. Animal Rights activists (who represent a significant section of the community), but are continually ignored by successive governments because big-industry has more clout, will eventually turn to more direct protest. It's not difficult to understand.
Roger Jubin, Horndean, Hants

Jeremy Paxman was very unfair and unprofessional in his handling of the animal rights interview. I am slightly in favour of animal testing and strongly against animal rights protesters who harm or threaten people or property, but Jeremy did not treat the anti-testing interviewee with respect, fairness or balance. The person being interviewed in a remote studio was calm and logical, and didn't try and hector or interrupt. But Jeremy Paxman very quickly and unnecessarily lost his temper and even called him "matey", which is so rude and patronising - he did this a few months ago with a radical Islamist interviewee (who WAS being hectoring). Jeremy also gave the in-studio interviewee, a spokesman for Pro-Test, an extremely easy time. This was a poor and unbalanced interview, mostly because Jeremy Paxman's personality was allowed to come through. It did not help me understand the issues any better - I just ended up feeling sorry for a person I would normally disapprove of.
Mike Foster, Teddington

I am appalled at the interview I've just witnessed between the presenter, the animal rights activist and the member from "Pro-test". This was the first I've heard of the issue, and would have preferred to have heard the men speak instead of the presenter injecting himself at every turn. He clearly favoured the kid from "Pro-test". In addition, your presenter was quoting equally anecdotal evidence to that of the animal rights activist. Too bad the overall debate was lost. Poor job.
Martin Belk, Edinburgh


Baby with headphones
We start them early on Newsnight
After Jeremy's request for those listening to the podcast to email in, I thought I'd say hello. I am 20 years old, a university student studying International Relations with Politics who had listened to every podcast since the start, on the basis that when Newsnight is on I'm usually drinking. Let no one say that students are lazy drunks, or that the youth of today is politically disaffected!
Chris Terry, Plymouth

Jeremy asked if the Newsnight podcast was being listened to. It is. I listened to it as I ran six miles on a drizzly Sunday morning. As for "TV without the pictures", that's just fine by me. The ability to watch Newsnight whilst running outside hasn't been invented yet (unless it has - maybe there's an idea for a story?).
Mark Dye, Bracknell

I listen to the newsnight podcast. It is my only option for "hearing" Newsnight as I am in the US. I am very happy that the BBC is podcasting their best shows. I dumped my XM satellite radio for my car and office because I listen to podcasts from the BBC (and a few other sources). Thanks for podcasting!!!!
Jeffrey Carpenter, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Jeremy, I'm listening! Just so you know your not talking to the ether. I'm a student so don't have a TV, (too expensive) so being able to hear Newsnight again is great. Keep it up!
Chris, Birmingham

Yes Jeremy (Paxo) I am listening to your podcast. Stop dissing alternative distribution channels for your output.
Graham Moore, Leeds

I live in Australia and therefore can't watch NN. Its great to hear Paxman and the others while I'm out taking the dog for a walk. The best podcast is by the way. Keep the faith Paxo I am sure there are lots of us out here.
matt Harrison, Perth, Australia

"Yes" Jeremy, re your May 5th podcast challenge; at least one listener here (amongst many I suspect) via laptop, on the "cybersofa". A bit sad some may say on a Saturday night, but the natural antidote to "Strictly Dance Fever"! You sound a sceptic on these matters (not blogging yet I presume?). Your Editor's right, this IS the future. Perhaps you will feel more at home with the natural progression to video podcasting. The only disappointment to date is your spasmodic arrival in the pod, compared to the daily offerings of some of the competition.
Tony Norris, Dorking

In answer to Jeremy Paxman's question "Is anyone listening to the Newsnight podcast?" Yes I am and I love it. I rarely get to see the excellent transmitted version so I'm more than happy it's available in this edited form. Keep up the good work.
Paul Laugier, York

The Newsnight Podcast is a great way to keep up with what's happening. I can listen when it suits me, either at home or at the gym, which is great as the BBC2 signal doesn't get to this part of the world. Television without pictures - I think it's called radio...
Stephen, Durban South Africa


Was great to see Jeremy Vine on the programme tonight - would be great if he one day rejoined the team...
Ben, London

Regarding your programme of 05/05/06 I found it particularly offensive that you felt the need to portray the recovering of the Conservative Party with primitive man and wonder if you would have done the parallel of an ageing labour party with increasing curvature of the spine?
Richard Jenkins, Warwickshire

KOSOVO [From 4 May]

John Simpson

As usual, your reporting in Kosovo is completely one-sided. Is it not "politically correct" for you to report on the plight of the Serbs in Kosovo? Has not NATO carried out "ethnic cleansing" of the Serb population. Why should the borders of a sovereign nation be changed at the whim of NATO? The United Kingdom wouldn't entertain the idea of returning Northern Ireland to Ireland. If California had a majority of Mexicans, Would the USA consider independence for them? I am sorry that the BBC only seems to take one side in this difficult and hard to understand situation. Yet as always, you simplify it for your audience.
John Davis, Novi Sad, Serbia

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