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Page last updated at 12:58 GMT, Thursday, 16 February 2006

Your views: Editor's column

Your responses to Peter Barron's weekly column.

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    You can now respond directly to each column, using the form at the bottom of the relevant page.

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    You did NOT get the balance right because one side of the scale was weighed down by the threat of violent retaliation. Without that threat you would not have reported it in the same way.
    John, Banbury

    I still believe that showing the cartoons, even in a restricted format, was totally wrong
    Ron Braggins
    The BBC says the reason they are censoring these images is because they don't want to hurt someone's feelings. The only reply to this is "so what?" So what if someone feels offended, that is their problem. There is no proof of any god, but if people wish to believe in one fine - we have freedom of religion - BUT when you start forcing that view on me, it's not longer freedom of religion - it's forcing religion on the rest of us! Have a spine, publish the damn pictures and if someone feels upset - well too damn bad.
    Per, Denmark

    I still believe that showing the cartoons, even in a restricted format, was totally wrong. You must learn to accept that different countries and religions react in different ways to provocations of that nature. The fact that someone else first placed them in the public arena does not relieve you of recognising this as a sensitive issue, likely to offend and to lead to the depth of feeling, and the violent demonstrations we are now experiencing. It makes no sense whatever to bring Abu Hanza to court to account for his unacceptable behaviour, only to follow this with a similar disregard for another religion's understandable reaction. Freedom of speech is one thing, but it should not be used to insult another religion's deity.
    Ron Braggins, Aylesford, Kent

    Your job is to report the news as it happens, not to prevent tensions between people
    Stewart Ford
    I have the opinion that to upset all Muslims at a time when we are trying to stop the violence of radicals is childish and very risky. I am sorry that our president didn't take the opportunity to bridge our different views but instead created a chasm that will be even more difficult to cross. I believe that to show these cartoons would only cause harm and only because people who missed the first view are curious. I say that we acknowledge the mistake, and move on.
    Susan, Otisville, MI USA

    Your job is to report the news as it happens, not to prevent tensions between people. You were not employed to be a peace-keeper. It is not your responsibility to say what will and what will not create tensions in our society. You are not a politician who represents people, you are a reporter who is supposed to report what is happening in this world of ours.
    Stewart Ford

    Certain news agencies deserve full praise in showing restraint and common sense at a time when others sacrifice tact for freedom of speech/expression. It is quite late for the press to use freedom of expression as a rationalization of their current actions. Why weren't the journalists so bold when the US started an illegal war, began internal surveillance on its own people and the UN increasingly became a puppet to the Blair and Bush administrations? Journalists need to act in a more responsible manner and it is abhorrent that they've put their Islamic audience in a "Catch 22" situation in which the more Muslims protest, the more they affirm the slanted bias in Western newspapers!
    Michael Stevens, Cincinnati, Ohio

    It's time all our newspapers published the cartoons and stood as one for freedom of speech and views that we stand for!
    Andy Smith
    I am disappointed that the BBC has made the decision NOT to publish the cartoons of the prophet. We live in a European Country that holds freedom of speech dear. This is our culture and we should not be so cowardly as to bow to other cultures in case it causes hurt.
    David Case, Broadstairs

    It's time all our newspapers published the cartoons and stood as one for freedom of speech and views that we stand for! To hell with the censors!
    Andy Smith, Margate

    Every right has a responsibility, if not there can only be chaos
    Andrew Finneran
    I thought your guests on the cartoon discussion were all wrong. I imagine you thought that Stephen Green would be on the anti-cartoon side with the Hizb-ut-Tahrir member, leaving your other two guests to provide balance. Instead, Green launched into some pretty embarrassing diatribes against Islam leaving the whole thing very lopsided.
    Osama Saeed, Glasgow

    Whilst any sane and fair-minded person can understand Mr Barron's difficulties and the pressures to hold back, NOT treating this story in a normal and open way - as any other story would be - is setting a terrible precedent for the future, which we will all come to bitterly regret. If the cartoon had have been of Jesus or God or a hundred other religious personalities, you would not have hesitated. Islam CANNOT expect to be treated differently. If you give in, radical Muslims will take heart. If you haven't got the balls for the job, resign, and let someone do it who has.
    B Bradshaw, Exeter

    I'm with LM Lawrie May who wrote: "You cannot report a news subject relating to a visual matter without showing that matter." If Christians had been as sensitive as this what would have happened to the Monty Python team?
    John Y

    It is called mass hysteria. Say it publicly.
    Derrick Aspinall, Jimena

    The freedom of speech argument is a cop out. Every right has a responsibility, if not there can only be chaos. The cartoons were clearly irresponsible and those who showed them are responsible for ALL the resultant damage.
    Andrew Finneran, Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada

    I think that Newsnight has got it right, the story was excellently balanced - I agree with the need to not put any petrol on the flames
    Juan Raymond
    Since when has a news programme based its editorial decisions on viewer feedback? I work in a BBC newsroom and I know the answer to that is never. I find it disturbing that Newsnight is patting itself on the back for its ever so wonderful tone in discussing the Danish cartoon saga. I'm sure that there are times when you have published and been damned, knowing that you will cause controversy. Why not now? Because you want to maintain the smug supercilious tone of the righteous while acting out of fear of retaliation. What is happening?
    Hannah Brown, London

    I think that Newsnight has got it right, the story was excellently balanced. I agree with the need to not put any petrol on the flames. However, I feel at the same time that the over-reaction to fears of insulting people goes against freedom of speech and hard-fought-for liberal traditions. I remember how difficult it was to start criticizing the catholic church in the initial years of the return to democracy in Latin America and recall threats and even bombs to cinemas showing films which conservative Catholics deemed insulting to their faith. Luckily the government did not ban these films and years on, people cherish their freedom of speech. Now, it seems that in Europe we are going backwards.
    Juan Raymond, London

    It was important that at least one BBC programme showed at least some of the detail but to run with full details would have caused unnecessary offence
    Robert Brown
    I too thought you had got the balance just right on the cartoon issue. I had seen the cartoons for myself online, and I don't think there is anything to be gained by showing any more than you did. Keep up the good work! But enough with the radio four theme tune, please...
    Helen Heenan, Hemel Hempstead

    Just want to say I thought you got the balance about right. It was important that at least one BBC programme showed at least some of the detail but to run with full details would have caused unnecessary offence.
    Robert Brown, Manchester

    Newsnight's coverage of both the BNP's Nick Griffin being cleared and the Danish cartoons settles the question of whether the programme was pouring petrol on a volatile situation or not. Griffin demonstrated how to stoke anger for the sake of it, while the restraint shown in both reports exemplified how to make extremists, of whatever shade, answer difficult questions.
    Gareth Sturdy, London

    I do not think now would be a good time to show them in full - to do so would be to intentionally offend and would not aid debate
    Christine Rixon
    Great column and insight into your editorial angst over the cartoons. For what it is worth, I would have published. We are a secular society and Muslims have to get used to the idea.
    Roy Lilley, Camberley

    Yes, I agree that the BBC got the balance right. In view of the Rushdie affair and how it developed, it was very important to see from the beginning of this new crisis a moderate Muslim voice speaking out in favour of free speech and explaining its importance so clearly. The German editor of "Die Welt" was properly understated, but his defence of satire was vital to the discussion. It was also amusing, not to put it any higher on a scale of value, to hear the Christian who had objected so strenuously to "Jerry Springer the Opera" being relatively unsympathetic to Muslim claims of insult. Well done, Kirsty, for her expert moderation of the discussion.
    Neil Forsyth, Lausanne, Switzerland

    This is the 21st century and we all believe in freedom of speech but there are certain limitations
    Sanaullah Khan
    I thought Newsnight handled the cartoon controversy very well and the discussion was balanced. I do not think now would be a good time to show them in full either for broadcast media or newspapers - to do so would be to intentionally offend and would not aid debate.
    Christine Rixon, London

    I would like to suggest that it would be a mistake if the BBC goes ahead with publishing these blasphemous cartoons. It would be seen by the Muslim world as a kind of shaming, humiliating them and playing with their feelings and religious beliefs. I think the British Media is more responsible and mature than its European counterparts. This is the 21st century and we all believe in freedom of speech but there are certain limitations. There is a clear difference between freedom of expression and taking the mickey out of a particular sect or people for their religious beliefs.
    Sanaullah Khan, Liverpool

    I feel the decision of the BBC to not show the controversial cartoons is allowing the religious fundamentalists to control the news and the reporting of the news
    Erin
    I have mixed emotions about the way Newsnight handled the Mohammed cartoons on Thursday night. Personally, I don't think it's possible to fully report the story without somehow depicting the cartoons at the centre of the controversy, nor do I think it is sensitive to just throw the pictures all over our print and broadcast news media. The Newsnight tactic was interesting, but the way it was done almost made me feel like I shouldn't have been seeing what I was seeing. Though I sympathise with your problem of deciding what is right in the eyes of all, I have to say I think that the BBC, Sky, and all the newspapers, etc., should take a stance and stick with it - whether that is showing them or deciding not to. To "tip-toe" round the issue by going halfway is surely the worst option - controversy is caused by showing the images, yet those genuinely wanting to fully understand the issue are left disappointed also. By being torn between the two sides, Newsnight's "compromise" answer did nothing to satisfy either side.
    Joe, Laurencekirk

    I feel the decision of the BBC to not show the controversial cartoons is allowing the religious fundamentalists to control the news and the reporting of the news. The cartoons ARE the news. Don't give in to censorship. It is the right and responsibility to report and hold in check ANY religious/political/social organization. How is it different to showing any other possible controversial image - ie flag burning, Nazi symbols, corpses, nudity, etc.?
    Erin, United States

    Another example along the lines of the Jerry Springer protests. Just glad we, as a nation, divested ourselves of our fundamentalism back in the 17th Century and the battle of censorship back in the 1960s. At the end of the day if you are offended don't watch or read the material.
    Steve Newton, Basildon

    I am really very much thankful to the BBC because it didn't show those cartoons which are making big trouble - also I am really appreciative of the media policy of Britain.
    Taqui Ahmed, Lahore-Pakistan

    Come on, you are being too sensitive to these protests - it is in our culture that cartoons poke fun and 'Life of Brian' was accepted in that vein
    John Ette
    I see your programme most evenings and value it as the most intelligent of all the news programmes on TV. Naturally it is not without fault - you sometimes run trivial items, but I thought Thursday's programme - led by Kirsty - was particularly good even if the female Muslim did rather dominate the show. Nevertheless, it was a brilliant idea to get them together in such a short time and Kirsty handled them, and the two who were not in the studio, very well.
    Peter Tallentire, Liverpool

    The handling of the cartoons was correct, to protect/remove the face of the Prophet.
    M Khan

    Well done BBC - you were right to show what the fuss was about, and it really is not much
    Dr Paul Fowler
    Come on. You are being too sensitive to these protests. It is in our culture that cartoons poke fun and "Life of Brian" was accepted in that vein. The majority in Britain are not Muslim and should not be dictating to the rest of us how to behave. Media that show the cartoons are aiming at their domestic audience, and not intentionally targeting Muslim countries.
    John Ette, Le Pradet, France

    Well done BBC, you were right to show what the fuss was about, and it really is not much. We should value our freedoms in Europe and reject the views of all extremists. To those Muslims who are offended, and many are not, we should point out they too that have the freedom to express their opinions, BUT they must not expect to be handed the right to censor non-Muslims.
    Dr Paul Fowler, Aberdeen

    I would like to salute your courage. You handled the matter with sensitivity without caving in on a matter of such importance to freedom of speech and a buffer against the PC and those who believe appeasement is the way to stay in power and deal with difficult issues. Offensive remarks are always to be avoided but political cartoons are part of the British political canvas. You got the balance spot on.
    Robert Bruce, London

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    DESIGN A SET

    Dear Peter,

    To quickly introduce myself I oversee Big Brother from the C4 end.

    I just wanted to say that I agree with what you've written. The boundary between "high" and "low" culture doesn't exist in the same way anymore. Intelligent people can be interested in Big Brother and the Palestinian elections...

    Best to you.
    Danny Cohen

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    You have a winning formula, radical change is not a good idea
    Luke Carruthers
    "Too pinstripe" - I hardly think so. Actually, I very much like the current "look and feel" of Newsnight in general. Some of the gimmickry is irksome, and on several occasions I have felt that Newsnight has devoted undue time and attention to subjects that are of little relevance to a serious current affairs review. However, I find the presentation and content very pleasing on the whole. The tone is inquisitive, learned and dignified (exactly what I want) and the purple backdrop is easy on the eye, not garish and politically neutral (unlike blue or the current Breakfast red). You have a winning formula, radical change is not a good idea. By the way, by publishing your very welcome column, you are not asking me "direct", but are in fact "asking me directly!" Thank you.
    Luke Carruthers, Leicester

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    It is to avoid tabloid obsessions with the trivial that some of us watch Newsnight
    Patrick Nealon
    The minute I saw Pointless Pete being interviewed by Kirsty Wark, my opinion of Newsnight changed. That minute I also switched channels. Mr Barron can justify this interview all he likes. But regular Newsnight viewers won't buy it.
    JR Turner, London

    You write when justifying the Pete Doherty interview as if you are the only news and current affairs commentator in the UK. There are endless outlets interested in yoof culture and there are endless columns and interviews on the subject of this mediocre musician. It is to avoid tabloid obsessions with the trivial, the shallow, the mediocre and the minor celebrity that some of us watch Newsnight. If you are going to join the pack, what justification is there left to watch the BBC?
    Patrick Nealon, Sudbury

    It's extremely chauvinistic to assume your audience predominately consists of 50 year old males!
    Olivia Hemming
    Newsnight's precious airtime would be better spent on subjects other than Pete Doherty. Being in Scotland, I tend to switch off at 11; the only "Geek" feature I was allowed to see was interesting.
    Douglas, Ayrshire

    First of all, I enjoyed [your column], but secondly it's extremely chauvinistic to assume your audience predominately consists of 50 year old males! I am neither, nor are my friends who subscribe to it.
    Olivia Hemming, San Diego, California

    It's good that we can feed back like this and hence get the programme we want
    Amelia
    I am female, originally from Sierra Leone, West Africa, now residing in the USA and I read your column every week.
    Isatu Hyde, Annandale, Virginia USA

    I didn't know there was an editor's column on-line, and shall look regularly now. It's good that we can feed back like this and hence get the programme we want, as you so rightly suggest. However, you must SURPRISE US from time to time! That's your job!
    Amelia, Exeter

    What are Geeks and Gak? I would appreciate it very much if the Queens English might be used
    Mrs ZoŽ Lockyer
    I would just like to point out that not all your viewers are male, 50, etc. I am 37 and female and have been watching Newsnight for years and years, certainly easily when I was in my 20s. Surely there can't be so few female viewers? What a depressing picture.
    Philippa, London

    I enjoy most Newsnight contributions, but was a little bewildered by yours of January 6th. I don't know how you carried out your survey, but obviously I am not your average subscriber. I am female, 80-something, middle market, hopefully still intelligent, but definitely independent minded. What are Geeks and Gak? I would appreciate it very much if the Queens English might be used. You may be trying to be modern, but I am not, and I do expect the BBC to cater for all sections of the community.
    ZoŽ Lockyer (Mrs)

    Do you promise there'll be no mention of George Galloway's antics at all?
    Lauren
    Are geeks groups of people interested in things that are not mainstream? Is Newsnight mainstream or does it aim to address an audience that enjoys more in-depth analysis of current affairs and some lateral dissection of world events? I watch because I believe it to be the latter. The Pete Doherty web effect was probably due to web-trawls, was it not? Please try to ask the "why" question some more, rather than second guessing mainstream stuff best left for ITV.
    Stefan Sykes, Leeds

    My goodness, if I'd known you were only making the programme for intelligent males I'd have given up long ago!
    Finola O'Sullivan
    Greetings from a wintry Switzerland! I laughed out loud when I read Peter Barron's profile of the typical Newsnight watcher! Yes, I am in my 50s; yes, I would hope that I have a keen intelligence; not too sure about the "upward" bit - as a Public Health doctor with the World Health Organisation I have been, but I fear that now at 56, it might be downhill all the way to retirement! Oh, yes, and I'm a WOMAN! Seriously though, I love Newsnight. Indeed, I can't imagine life without it. However since BBC World stopped transmitting the programmme - some five years ago now - I watch it the following morning on my lap-top. With best wishes to all the Newsnight team for a happy and successful 2006.
    Jenny Smy-Murdoch, Geneva

    So you'll never do anything on Celebrity Big Brother? Do you promise there'll be no mention of George Galloway's antics at all then? Will be interesting to see how you'll avoid that one!
    Lauren

    My goodness, if I'd known you were only making the programme for intelligent males I'd have given up long ago!
    Finola O'Sullivan

    An excellent piece of journalism, thank you - keep up the good work
    Callum Richards
    I understand about the need to include items on Pete Doherty, really, even though I cannot name one of his tunes. But pray, what is GAK? Is this a term used by the 50 somethings in their youth that I might not have picked up on or is it a modern word that has passed me by? I guess it relates in some way to Mr D.
    Tom (aged 39)

    I'm a 20-something white male, probably could be described as a geek, and I thoroughly enjoy both your news content and also the geek reports, especially last night's report on the virtual gaming phenomena. Even though I may know a little more than the average viewer on this subject already, the reports are still valuable. For example, being able to see the way multiplayer games are impacting on the economies of other countries, and how those Romanian lads are earning their living playing games. An excellent piece of journalism, thank you, and keep up the good work.
    Callum Richards, Gloucester

    You are being very brave in telling your younger viewers that the content is being tailored to their parents!
    Tim Turner
    Love the Geeks on Newsnight - and, no, I'm not one. Neither am I your average viewer, being female and well under 50. However, more please! Where else can I get sensible discussion on all things intelligent and interesting, "sans" tabloid grunge? By the way, who are Pete and Kate? Yeah, yeah, I know...
    Liz

    Is it true that Pete Doherty is in line to be the next leader of the Lib Dems?
    Colin Chamberlain
    You are being very brave in telling your younger viewers that the content is being tailored to their parents!
    Tim Turner, Whitstable

    Given the obvious influence addiction, or a rumoured history of drugs, has on the careers of our politicians, I think Newsnight was quite right to do another interview with Pete Doherty. David Cameron's campaign was tarred in part by the drug allegations and Charles Kennedy's addiction has been a blow to Lib Dem fortunes recently. An example of someone who has gone through the deep end of such problems is a useful reality check when the tabloids are so keen to condemn our politicians for their problems. That said, I'm glad you didn't interview Besty.
    Simon Briton, Newcastle

    It is the subject matter and its presentation that attracts the audience
    Richard Maryan
    Is it true that Pete Doherty is in line to be the next leader of the Lib Dems?
    Colin Chamberlain, Windsor

    I did NOT watch the Newsnight edition featuring Pete Doherty for the very reason that he was on it. Who really cares what he thinks? Keep up the excellent "news" reporting.
    S Cowell, Slough

    I have watched Newsnight since my teenage years because of my early interest in politics. I am a little young to fit the profile of a Newsnight viewer but it is the subject matter and its presentation that attracts the audience. Mr Paxman and his team offer a heavily political and intellectual view of our world compared to other programmes and long may it continue. I do not see the need to justify individual programmes with interviews such as those with Pete and his lover or ex-lover Kate. Good luck and a happy new year.
    Richard Maryan, Maidstone

    Geek Week is excellent and timely - please leave sport and Big Brother well alone.
    Rob Dickens
    Newsnight's balance on content is OK and that includes the Pete Doherty interview and "Geek Week". I am sure most Newsnight viewers feel the same. They understand that the programme does not back off when it feels uncomfortable issues need exploring - that's part of its appeal.
    Barry Johnson, Nottingham

    I'm an early 40s software developer, RSS addict, and keen Newsnight viewer. I think you've got things about right. Geek Week is excellent and timely. Please leave sport and Big Brother well alone.
    Rob Dickens, Walsall

    Newsnight is my new Match of the Day
    Peter Sas
    Love the headline on your latest email - sounded very "popbitch"-esque. Something we should know?
    Imogen, London

    Reading your viewer profile I thought, "that's me!" Newsnight (especially Friday night's Review) is my new Match of the Day - particularly when Ms Greer launches another over the top tackle on some poor innocent. But one of the things I would like to see debated is the world of instant news gathering. Does the news have to be so instantaneous? Although I accept the need for "news flashes" and the use of new technology in the media, I also think a lot of resources are wasted in competition between different news gatherers to cover stories that are simply not worthy of all the attention. Perhaps being there and being first looks better on everyone's CV.
    Peter Sas, Bristol

    Though I don't match your average viewer profile (I'm half the age), I am a regular viewer and would even go so far as to say that Newsnight has opened a few windows on the world which would otherwise be closed (to me at least). Enough Pete Doherty? Probably yes. Geek Week? Well, typical Newsnight, not something that especially interests me but well reported, informative and amusing. This programme gives viewers in-depth, extensive reports on important issues that you haven't a hope of catching in any other broadcast media, and that's brilliant. But one gripe, from a 25 year old who has an interest in all cultural spheres, why is there so rarely a serious theatre, opera or concert review/preview on the Friday night slot? Surely it's no more "high-brow" than some of your economic and sociological packages?
    Andrew, London

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    Received your quiz via newsletter today. It's very entertaining, but I only got one out of 10 for which you suggest I should "unsubscribe". Well, to be fair, the only reason I got that one was because I do subscribe (it prompted me to watch the David Cameron interview - thus I knew number eight), so have a heart. I'll stay subscribed and hold out for a better score next year.
    Bob Dunning, Leeds

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    The 'Allies on Trial' jury
    The 'Allies on Trial' jury
    Bravo! I hope you'll continue to expose and evaluate all the outrageous abuses of law, reason and morality that those in power continue to perpetrate.
    K N Carstens, Buckfield, USA

    I am writing from Doha, Qatar. Why would a newspaper that has to offer pictures of nude women question a celebrated TV journalism programme? I remember seeing a similar programme conducted by Jon Snow of Channel 4. The Sun did not question that. It's all because you invited him as a witness. Whatever you do, please continue your broadband edition of the well balanced Newsnight.
    Ali

    Since when should Newsnight stoop so low as to gratify the likes of The Sun with a response?
    Amina Znaidi
    How can such an issue of principle be presented without principles being the main topic? Instead, give equal time to two sides of a circle of prejudiced argument. It's time for your political commentators to get off the fence. The BBC is a public service, and does not need to follow in the path of either independent news vendors or the government of the day, by directly bringing bloggers into the performance of its duty to the public at large.
    Albert Shaw, Warrington, Cheshire

    Since when should Newsnight stoop so low as to gratify the likes of The Sun with a response? The gutter press belongs in the gutter. Keep up the good work and let the Sun go back to its Page Three.
    Amina Znaidi, Richmond

    Good on yers, mates! Keep this programme filled with lively discussion and debate! Unfortunately, I get to watch it only when I am in Britain. Too bad America doesn't have a similarly probing programme.
    John Connolly, Long Beach, California

    Newsnight is one of the best news programmes our people can watch but I thought you had broader shoulders than to feel the need to defend yourself or retaliate at a comment/article in the Sun. The question is, "why is Iraq so important to our media when there are many, many other human-horror disputes around the world?" There is a huge amount of human distress across the world and yet Iraq appears to dominate our thinking and time on current affairs. I believe "Allies on Trial" would have borne more fruit if it had been planned as one of a series of debates on our human rights thinking; London residents certainly could offer input from every corner. So, yes, you could do better with a little more vision. Iraq was a valid arena for debate but you did not need to bite back.
    Richard Maryan

    I believe your programme is well worthwhile because every government-backed investigation has been strictly kept within strangulation confines. All of which means I thoroughly support your programme and, unlike the Sun, believe an open debate is worthwhile, both to air the subject objectively, and to give the people of this country an opportunity to express their opinion and vote on the war.
    Tobias, Eastbourne

    I felt there was nowhere near enough time to properly cross examine each witness
    Brendan Clegg
    All I can say is thank you BBC for having the guts to try to get to the truth about the almost certain intentional misuse of intelligence during the pre-war build up. Such intentional misleading and manipulation of the public into an unnecessary war would amount to one of the worst (if not the worst crimes) committed by any US presidential administration. The main defense against a repeat of such a crime is getting the truth out so the guilty can be punished. That is the job of a free press in a democratic society. Without this check on power, there is no democracy and such abuse of power will occur again and again. However, it has apparently become a disgrace, even a betrayal, for the press to challenge the government. To the contrary, restricting the press through intimidation or payola is the real betrayal of our freedoms and destroys our democracy. Please keep up the fight. Don't give in to pressure or influence.
    Phyllis Eder, Memphis

    Sir, I too had the misfortune to read the Sun on the day they published their "The Sun Says" rant. I couldn't believe they had the audacity to accuse Newsnight of irresponsible journalism. So many examples of The Sun doing just that. I watched the programme to make my own decision and have to say I was disappointed. I felt there was nowhere near enough time to properly cross examine each witness which led to Jeremy Paxman forcing each brief to end mid sentence. It's a shame because I thought each witness had a lot to offer with first hand experience, something so many of us just haven't had. I appreciate you are constrained by allotted time but personally I would have been glued for two hours to full questioning, which I think would have allowed viewers to form a better opinion but would also have been short enough to keep each "lawyer" from going off subject. The whole thing just seemed too rushed. Keep up the good work.
    Brendan Clegg, Halesowen, West Midlands

    I was greatly disappointed with "Allies on Trial". Instead of discussing the criminal nature of the Bush/Blair war your programme focused on less "controversial" issues. Were those "minor" issues the only ones permissible by the BBC management? If so, it's too bad for all of us.
    Mark Goretsky, Plainview, NY, USA

    This programme needed to be given more time - one and a half to two hours, or maybe a short series
    Adam Knowles
    Be very suspicious of people who are so brittle and consider themselves above criticism. I'd say to the Sun, "What are you so worried about? Are you afraid to find out that the side you defend has misbehaved?" If they are in the clear, surely they'd want to trumpet the result? This is very sad, one thing that a lot of authoritarian entities have in common is an irrational terror of being scrutinised or criticised - get over yourselves! I applaud Newsnight.
    Charles, London

    I didn't think the format really worked. It just wasn't useful or entertaining. Neither lawyer really focused on the question of legality much at all. The prosecution was mostly using the Blair line of "ok, so it might have been based on nonsense and against the law, but it was the right thing to do". This is a tangential point that the defence didn't "object" to. The "jury" ended up just being a Kilroy-style audience making inane comments that I didn't find particularly enlightening. This programme needed to be given more time - one and a half to two hours, or maybe a short series rather than a one off. Leave this populist format to Trevor McDonald and ITV. Newsnight is altogether more serious about its analysis. The format doesn't suit the brand reputation.
    Adam Knowles, London

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    Jeremy Paxman
    Paxman - pointless or provocative?
    Of course the job is worth doing - it's one of the most important ones in broadcasting. It also demands high standards of professional behaviour and detachment, which is why Paxman is so poor at it. He wastes opportunities that any number of other more skilful interviewers could turn to the viewing public's advantage. Get him off.
    Alan Johnson, Alton

    Journalism is a very satisfying profession. One evolves with each new experience in the writing or broadcasting world. Jeremy Paxman has brilliant qualities and is evolving in his presentation skills. Being abrasive is not at all necessary. Every journalist worth his salt weighs the pros and cons and spells out his impressions in clear, logical steps with fearless constancy. The duty of a journalist is to digest, analyze and inform his readers honestly. One just has to emulate highly experienced television talk hosts like Larry King on CNN who is able to make politicians squirm by tactful questioning. Maybe Jeremy could take a leaf out of Larry King's experience.
    Pancha Chandra, Brussels

    As far as I'm concerned Jeremy Paxman and the like are the only thing standing between us and those self-serving, status seeking, non-achieving politicians
    Eugene Clarke
    You should try working in the museums sector. Everyone I know working in media is earning loads more and working lots less than me.
    Mari Gordon, Cardiff

    Some big-name print journalists write for effect to boost their own image. Likewise, Mr Paxman interviews for effect - to boost his own image as a hard hitting news man. Now approaching 50 years as a print hack, my opinion is that the secret of a good interviewer is to say as little as possible while getting as much as possible out of the person you are talking to. Because of the image that he has to protect, Mr Paxman often fails due to his rudeness and refusal to allow his "victim" to answer. Good TV but not very good journalism.
    Nick Hunter, Inverness

    Mr Paxman often fails due to his rudeness and refusal to allow his 'victim' to answer
    Nick Hunter
    Having seen last night's interview of David Cameron, I thought Jeremy Paxman proved to me, and probably to lots of other people, that DC is not the man for the job! But JP is right to discourage people from doing media as a study as far too many people are and there are only a limited number of openings. I know as my family is involved in media from right at the top down to university students and at present none of them are actually holding a job!
    Sally Arnold, Cromer

    God bless Jeremy! Articulate and intelligent. We need our leaders to plan for our future, hope that they care, and we need sharp minds to keep our leaders to task. I think Jeremy is right, in my opinion the current subject of "media studies" gives too many the meaningless hope that they can make money - journalism is something else I hope!
    Sylvia Stedman, Bognor Regis

    As far as I'm concerned Jeremy Paxman and the like are the only thing standing between us and those self-serving, status seeking, non-achieving politicians.
    Eugene Clarke, Staffordshire

    Democracies need people like JP to cut through all the BS in MPs
    Gerard Latham
    More light, less heat please; even Jeremy can be polite and ask questions bearing on real issues rather than ones concocted just to create controversy. Leave testing MPs as to whether they can handle Parliament to Parliament
    Chris Dainty, Aylesbury

    Far from subjecting David Cameron "to detailed scrutiny of [his] principles and policies" as you wrongly suggest, Paxman's frequent and rude interruptions did nothing to help me understand Cameron or his policies. Forcing a politician to answer a question is one thing - and it's a quality too few journalists possess - but surely an interviewer should draw out information from the interviewee, not try to show us all how clever he is. Paxman performed very poorly in the Cameron interview. You would do much better to tell him so and require an improved performance next time round.
    Ian, Hitchin

    Democracies need people like JP to cut through all the BS in MPs.
    Gerard Latham, Lancs.

    This man is a genius in his field. Unless we have people of his calibre then we will never get the truth on the big issues. When he's on, I know that when I watch Newsnight and he's interviewing, he leaves no stone unturned.
    WM

    Mr Paxman follows the fashionable trend of the moment in that he is rude and self important. I believe that he and his ilk are responsible for the debasement of relationships in our society.
    Jeremy Slawson, Plymouth UK

    Paxman is one of a select group of journalists who reassure me that their trade actually stands for something
    Jim McCabe
    The problem with JP is not that he's rude or obnoxious because up to a point that's what he's paid to do, it's that he's biased. His love affair with Labour is clearly beginning to wane but anybody with any sense can see that he despises the Tories and sadly it colours everything he does. If he could show a little more genuine interest in them and a little less fawning for Labour he might actually be a good interviewer.
    Chris Wills, Fareham

    Seeking a career in "media" doesn't mean that students are seeking a career "in the media"! I'm studying Media & Cultural Studies with American Studies, which opens doors for me into advertising, PR, TV & radio, foreign embassies, British embassies, international organisations and charities. Media, by definition, means many mediums...it doesn't instantly mean journalism!!!!
    Joe, Hereford

    All careers in journalism, law and politics are what my father would have called jobs with the work taken out. Which is not to say that people are not extremely busy, but what are they busy about? All the litigation and polemics are geared to an endless recitation of issues that rarely culminates in a useful physical outcome. The post-war generation of men and women who had often emerged from the armed services and who were used to putting abstract ideas into real effect has gone, and all sorts of discussions now merely terminate in a vague "initiative" or "action plan". Chatter on, Jeremy, you are a nice entertaining bloke whose heart is in the right place, but I don't think you and your kind are ultimately accomplishing much.
    Michael Bettney, Long Eaton

    I would have thought the point of JP is that he is one of the few people with intelligence fierce enough to get backs against walls and to stop interviewees wheedling their way out of uncomfortable questions. If more foreign diplomats had these qualities, perhaps we wouldn't see quite so much bloodshed in the world. The media might be underpaid and oversubscribed but I envisage there will always be a place for intelligent and well informed journalists within it. I imagine JP thinks so too.
    Athene, Reading

    There are countless "journalists" who are guilty of shoddy research, lazy clichťs and an obsession with surveys and vox pops. Paxman is one of a select group of journalists who reassure me that their trade actually stands for and means something.
    Jim McCabe, Bootle

    It is easy to criticize that he goes too far, but if he didn't the interview would be boring
    Eugenia O'Connor
    The editor says that Messrs Cameron and Davis "should be subjected to detailed scrutiny of their principles and policies". Too bad that Tony Blair has not been subjected to the same indignity/honour. It would be useful to compare his principles and policies with those of New Labour - or is it the Labour Party? It's all so confusing.
    Colin Chamberlain, Windsor

    I don't think it the Newsnight editor or Mr Paxman's job to get aspiring politicians primed up for their ministerial jobs. Rather they should be exposing the shallowness, bias, hastiness and pig-headedness of their attitudes. And how did he know they were all corporate lawyers? Did they have big heads or what? They could have specialised in one of about 40 specialties.
    Peter Tallentire, Liverpool

    JP has the rare ability to turn potentially dull interviews into an exciting drama, and the result is: we all love watching them. It is easy to criticize that he goes too far, but if he didn't, the interview would be just boring, and most people would switch over to another programme. The interviewed politicians can study JP's techniques beforehand and prepare for them, and it is great when they do well. Just agreeing to an interview with Jeremy already says a lot about them, and if they manage to come across as enthusiastic, as well as in control, like Cameron did - well, it will be 1:0 for the politician, don't you think?
    Eugenia O'Connor, Hampstead, London

    The assumption that your lot come from Oxbridge is an indicator of how narrowly conceived the news agenda is these days
    Michael Smith
    Paxman is overrated as an interviewer. He has an abrupt manner and is a persistent interrupter. These characteristics can soften up some interviewees. But last night David Cameron showed how to handle these supposed qualities - he ignored the abrupt manner while remaining himself smooth, and he explicitly asked Paxo to allow him to string two sentences together. In one answer he numbered the sentences for Paxo's benefit. A victory for manners over menace.
    Donald Read, Lancs

    I have long been an admirer of Mr Paxman, but he could best be replaced with a robot that would not accept any politician's reply that began with the words "The important thing is..." Further to the validity or otherwise of the profession; the implicit assumption that your lot come from Oxbridge is an indicator of how narrowly conceived the news agenda is these days.
    Michael Smith, Edinburgh

    Paxman's got a point. Now, I'm no Oxbridge student (Birmingham and Sheffield for my Ma) but it's been a long, hard slog to get me as far as local radio journalism. The pay's pretty rubbish, the hours are long and everyone thinks you're sneaky and underhand. However, if you're looking for a lifestyle you love rather than a boring nine till five job then journalism is for you. The excitement of finding things out first and getting out of the same old routine make the unappreciated effort you put into your day well worth it.
    Jemma Harrison, Scunthorpe

    We engineers look at your 'profession' in much the same way that you look and sneer at corporate lawyers
    Paul, Towcester
    JP ought to realise if there aren't any journos around the world would be a dead place. Imagine - no one to carry his views across to the rest of the world, no one to gossip about the latest happenings, no one would know if anyone bombed any city! Sounds boring, doesn't it? Come to think about it, the world would just stop!
    Rosie Daswani, Pune, India

    "Aren't you glad we're doing what we're doing rather than what they're doing?" You have no idea what they are doing. The lawyers I know are dedicated to doing good. They serve their community in the same way a GP or priest might. OK, so there is often a lawyer on the other side of the argument representing the evil client - that means at least 50% of lawyers are goodies and the other half are baddies. Are all journalists white hat wearing goodies?
    James Carroll, Amersham

    If JP thinks a career in the media is underpaid/undervalued, he should try being a professional engineer. Ideally, all you need is a PhD, the brain the size of a planet and the ability to live on less than a newly qualified train driver. Oh, and if you make a mistake at work someone will probably die when what you have designed falls out of the sky. You media types don't know you are born! And oddly enough, we engineers look at your "profession" in much the same way that you look and sneer at corporate lawyers. So, basically good advice then from Mr Paxman, don't go into media - get a proper job.
    Paul, Towcester

    If I treated my colleagues or clients the way Paxman treats his interviewees I would probably end up in court
    Peter Osborne
    Whats the point of Jeremy Paxman? The guy's pure legend and will go down in the annals of history as one of the most probing and scrupulous of political interviewers! Unlike Robin Day, who used to soften up his interviewees at Brooks's Boodles or Carlton over a damn good luncheon, JP spends much time sharpening his claws for the kill! He is the main man.
    Paul Valentine, Taunton

    The Newsnight editor makes the point that it is entirely justifiable for Paxman to be aggressive to the point of rudeness in his questioning of the two Davids, based on the assumption that they will both face withering exchanges at the dispatch box and we need to know if they are up to it. Well, doesn't that beg the question of why our politics has to be conducted in this way, with endless time and resources wasted on preparing for and dealing with the pointless and irrelevant personal attacks that seem to dominate the political stage, stoked up by the media manipulating spinsters that no party can apparently live without? If I treated my colleagues or clients of my business the way Paxman treats his interviewees I would probably end up in court.
    Peter Osborne, London

    I suspect Jeremy is just being provocative, n'est ce pas?
    Michael Graham
    It is right that the candidates should face tough questions but I thought that Jeremy Paxman went a little too far in the Cameron interview. He interrupted too quickly and verged on the discourteous, indeed he seemed almost contemptuous at times.
    Andrew Green, Oxford

    In times of mind numbing politician's waffle and mediocre opposition in the UK, it is important democratically to have the likes of Jeremy put the pressure on the awful people in authority over us. Keep it up!
    Dawood, South Staffs

    I can believe Jeremy would promote discouragement of unemployment, but I can't believe he would think the job is not worthwhile. Sooner or later most people realise that as long as basic needs are provided for, fulfilment is far more important than doing a job one is unhappy with. I suspect Jeremy is just being provocative, n'est ce pas? Love the email, even the bad jokes.
    Michael Graham, Amstelveen, The Netherlands

    What's the point of Paxman? Well, he routinely knocks lumps out of politicians
    Tim Glanton
    I've always thought that the "faux" self-deprecation you get from journalists, particularly in the print media, is transparent and very annoying. This whole "we've got a real hard life us lot, we're the second most hated profession don't you know" and "you don't need training to do this job" stuff is nonsense, little more than an elaborate "fishing for compliments" ruse. While I agree that a lot of the people in the media - possibly the vast majority - haven't got a clue what they're doing, and really are making it up as they go along, the self-deprecation is really just inverted ego-massage; a ruse to feel part of a "club". "Look at us, ooh we're hated, isn't it a hard life being a hack, gosh we're rogues, aren't we, us journos? Living on the edge and all that." Rubbish. They love it.
    Dylan, Cardiff

    What's the point of Paxman? Well, he routinely knocks lumps out of politicians. But perhaps too routinely; we and our leaders are so used to politicians getting hammered that they've no shame anymore. They simply endure their tongue lashing then get on with whatever wrong-headed policy or scandal was occupying them beforehand. Totally pointless, but a good spectator sport nevertheless.
    Tim Glanton, Edinburgh

    If media people are like Jeremy and the editor, yes, it is a job well worth doing. If you are a hack working for the tabloids - well, purgatory is too good for you.
    Peter Popper, Saffron Walden





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