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BBC TwoNewsnight
Last Updated: Friday, 11 November 2005, 15:53 GMT
Could you do better?
Newsnight editor Peter Barron feeds back on the week's events in news and the Newsnight office.


By Peter Barron
Newsnight editor

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  • NEWSNIGHT REVIEW

  • Award winner

    Newsnight editor Peter Barron accepts the Media Tenor Global TV Award 2005 from Roland Schatz
    Peter Barron accepts the Media Tenor Global TV Award 2005 from Roland Schatz
    Newsnight won an award this week. Not a BAFTA or RTS, though those would be nice. It was the Media Tenor Global TV Award 2005.

    I'd never heard of it either. They're an international institute who monitor the world's media and collect data on story selection, diversity, balance, etc.

    Their gratifying conclusion: "Newsnight outshines domestic and international competitors".

    Did we lose our bottle?

    Despite this significant triumph the theme of the week has been other people telling us how to do our job.

    Taking lectures from Andrew Gilligan on what should or shouldn't run is an interesting proposition
    There was Andrew Gilligan in The Spectator complaining that we didn't run a recent investigation into the announcement of a deal involving a company owned by the Hindujas, apparently to sell defence vehicles to Sudan.

    Taking lectures from Andrew Gilligan on what should or shouldn't run is an interesting proposition, and as with some of his earlier work I'd say he got this story about 90% right.

    In this or any other investigation the bottom line is: Is it true and can you prove it? The story we'd have ended up with would, I think, have been so complicated and qualified as to be impossible to tell meaningfully.

    Distorted vision

    Another organisation that tries to influence our running orders is Medialens.

    One of Medialens' less ingratiating habits is to suggest to their readers that they contact me to complain about things we've done
    They're a website whose rather grand aim is to "correct the distorted vision of the corporate media".

    They prolifically let us know what they think of our coverage, mainly on Iraq, George Bush and the Middle East, from a Chomskyist perspective.

    In fact I rather like them. David Cromwell and David Edwards, who run the site, are unfailingly polite, their points are well-argued and sometimes they're plain right.

    For example, Newsnight hasn't done enough on the US war on insurgency in Western Iraq. The reason is we don't have a presence there because it's too dangerous and pictures and firm evidence are hard to come by.

    But that shouldn't be an excuse, and this week we managed to get an interview with a US Marine colonel on the front line to raise some of the points Medialens and others are concerned about.

    Contact us - and them

    One of Medialens' less ingratiating habits is to suggest to their readers that they contact me at peter.barron@bbc.co.uk to complain about things we've done, so after every controversial episode I get hundreds of e-mails from sometimes less-than-polite hommes engages - they're almost always men - most of whom don't appear to have watched the programme.

    So, in order that they don't have an unfair inbox-jamming monopoly, you can get me at the above address or via the website, and if you felt inclined to write to Medialens, they're at editor@medialens.org.

    Newsnight's House Party

    Like most editors, I imagine, I have a Google alert so that every time the word Newsnight appears on the internet the article pops up on my screen.

    Photo montage: The head of Noel Edmonds over the body of Jeremy Paxman
    Could it happen?
    A couple of interesting ones this week: 5 News have been inviting celebrities - including Alastair Campbell, Miss Dynamite and Kelly Holmes - to edit their programme. Their editor, Mark Calvert, predicts that Newsnight might soon be at it too.

    The other story that caught my eye was that Noel Edmonds, celebrating his return to TV, was asked where it all might lead. "Let me have a shot at Newsnight," was his instant reply. You can see where we're heading here...

    The upshot of all of this is that, honestly, we do want to hear from you if you think you could do a better job of Newsnight than we do.

    I'm not saying we're going to let you speak directly into Noel's ear on next week's show, but what our viewers think should influence what we do on the programme.

    We'll certainly publish your contributions - whether they're e-mails, photos or films - and if we get enough good material we could even produce an alternative Newsnight running order here on the website.

    The Media Tenor Global TV Award 2006 is there for the taking.

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    WATCH THIS WEEK'S PROGRAMME HIGHLIGHTS

  • China's presidential visit met by human rights controversy
  • Charles Clarke responds to the government's terror defeat
  • Jeremy Paxman interviews Tory leadership candidate David Davis
  • Should we abandon Time's leap-seconds?




  • SEE ALSO:
    Smears, the Sun and squirrels
    04 Nov 05 |  Newsnight Home



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