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BBC TwoNewsnight
Last Updated: Friday, 4 November 2005, 13:48 GMT
Smears, the Sun and squirrels
In the first of a weekly column, Newsnight editor Peter Barron feeds back on the week's events in news and the Newsnight office.


By Peter Barron
Newsnight editor

  • MONDAY 31 OCTOBER
  • THURSDAY 3 NOVEMBER
  • TUESDAY 1 NOVEMBER
  • FRIDAY 4 NOVEMBER
  • WEDNESDAY 2 NOVEMBER
  • NEWSNIGHT REVIEW
  • What is a smear?

    It's a term used all the time in politics and has a kind of Harold Wilson era feel about it.

    David Blunkett

    David Blunkett used it on Wednesday about Newsnight to describe three pieces Michael Crick did about the controversies that led to his resignation. He thought we were "trying to smear [his] private life".

    My dictionary says "seek to discredit publicly". That's not Michael's or Newsnight's aim - it's to ask pertinent and sometimes unwelcome questions about matters of public interest, and I'm convinced we did that.

    But some viewers thought we were in danger of becoming the story.

    ...when are you going to realise that, however you may feel about being named in anger by politicians, you are not the story! This 'report' was shameful self-justification, unworthy of your excellent programme
    Nell Harris, Dorchester
    CLICK TO READ MORE FEEDBACK

    A question of balance

    George W Bush

    We worry all the time about balancing our discussions on Newsnight, not just in terms of politics or the argument.

    On Tuesday we were doing a special programme about five years of George Bush's presidency and at one point it looked like all of our guests and presenter would be white middle-aged males.

    The call went out for a Bush-supporting British female. You'd be surprised how hard it is to find such a person, but eventually we secured the services of Sheila Lawlor of Politeia, who was great, but for future reference please let us know who else fits this bill.

    Testosterone

    By contrast, Wednesday's programme on the night of Blunkett's resignation and the government's near defeat on the terror bill was bloke meltdown. Testosterone clouded the studio as Alastair Campbell squared up to the Tories new henchman, Chris Grayling and political junkies Andrew Rawnsley, John Rentoul and Matthew Parris queued up to offer Jeremy their take on Blair's latest crisis.

    Martha Kearney, hotfoot from presenting Woman's Hour, was our only salvation, but one viewer who called the duty log still wasn't happy, feeling there were too may female contributors on the programme - or was this sarcasm?

    Felt that there were too many female contributors on the programme. 'It would have been more balanced to include more male perspectives also.'

    Trouble on Fleet Street

    Fleet Street

    The big story exercising us on Thursday was the uncanny dual problems of two of Britain's top newspaper editors.

    Sun editor Rebekah Wade was in trouble for allegedly giving her husband Ross Kemp - Grant in Eastenders - a thick lip.

    And at the other end of the newspaper spectrum, Andrew Gowers stepped down as editor of the Financial Times because of "strategic differences" with the paper's owner, Pearson.

    How very Sun and FT respectively, as our Culture Correspondent Stephen Smith reported. But it would have been a much better story if it had been the other way round.

    Standing up for greys

    I'm not a vegetarian or even an animal lover, but am I alone in my defence of the grey squirrel?

    Am I alone in my defence of the grey squirrel?
    While everyone wants to save the red squirrel, the same people seem perfectly content to exterminate greys because they're alien to this country and considered pests.

    Surely that is to accept the principle of racial superiority and genocide? It's a slippery slope to fascism.

    CLICK HERE TO LOG YOUR SUPPORT FOR THE GREY SQUIRREL

    Finally

    This is the first of what I hope will be a weekly column on the website. The aim is to be open and honest about what we're up to, and to reflect your views and feed them back into the programme. And I hope to do it without getting a thick lip or into strategic differences with the BBC.

    CONTACT US

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