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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 January 2006, 13:02 GMT
Feedback - December 2005

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 December's views from this page.

  • Click here to be taken to the feedback index

  • This month:

    General comments
    Pete Doherty interview
    End of the oil age?
    Aids in South Africa
    Sue Lloyd-Roberts in Zimbabwe
    Iraq hostages
    Cameron's first U-turn?
    Mark Urban in Basra
    Cindy Sheehan interview
    David Cameron
    Spinsterhood
    Patricia Hewitt interview
    Renditions
    Pay in the NHS

    Click here to read November's feedback - part 1
    Click here to read November's feedback - part 2

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


    GENERAL COMMENTS

    Courageous journalism is important to all of us and will become more so
    Lis
    Many thanks for your reporting throughout the year. The real concern for those outside the government/journalism loop is how do we find out what is really going on? Without the BBC's news coverage, no-one would be holding the government to account. I just hope that you will continue to be able to do it. Courageous journalism is important to all of us and will become more so. I just hope you continue to have the taste for it.
    Lis, Hereford

    Jeremy Paxman, Stephanie Flanders and David Cameron are members of the sinister Notting Hill cyclists think tank.
    Garrett Browne, Dublin

    Why, why, why, did Newsnight not give more coverage to the critical hostage situation instead of spending considerable time on a tired old debate about the state of politics? Is the BBC under pressure to bury Iraq news? I switched off. Such a shame the BBC is becoming Blair's Broadcasting Corporation. It's so frustrating when you sense that the media is being controlled by the Government.
    Lee Hossain, London

    PETE DOHERTY INTERVIEW [23 December 2005]

    Pete Doherty

    What was the point of the second Pete Doherty interview? I have no interest in him, his music or his life, least of all his problems coping with affluence. I imagine this is a view shared by the vast majority of your viewers, many of whom would have been blissfully unaware of Doherty's celebrity existence before Newsnight decided to air what seemed to be a follow-up therapy session. If Doherty had attended an actual therapist's appointment whilst drunk he may well have been turned away but, for some unfathomable reason, this seemed to be no bar to Newsnight showcasing his whingeing yet again.
    Ian Hart, Oxford

    I cannot help thinking that this item would have been of minimal interest to most of Newsnight's regular watchers. When one considers the real stories missed, discussing Pete Doherty's drug habits and sentimental life strikes me as not just wasting time on trivial rubbish, but irrelevant.
    John Flynn, Manchester

    I found Kirsty's interview with Pete Doherty most disturbing and very intrusive, albeit, he obviously agreed to do it. Kirsty does a good job and was sympathetic, but she's no psychologist and I believe Pete's private life and thoughts are not for the viewing public. I shall go to sleep worrying about him and I don't think that's what late night television is about.
    Diana O'Donnell, Hythe

    I thought Newsnight was supposed to be an intelligent programmne. I could only take well under a minute of the Pete Doherty interview, with his vacant look and inability to string together a sentence. It's a great pity such people achieve fame and fortune, but do we have to see them on programmes such as Newsnight?
    Michael Tanner, Stockport

    Newsnight editor Peter Barron responds:

    We can't please all the viewers all the time, but if you Google Pete Doherty and Newsnight it's clear there was plenty of interest in this interview. The interview was part of our series on individuals who had made the news in 2005, and like him or loathe him Pete Doherty undoubtedly did that. The series also included interviews with the anti-war campaigner Cindy Sheehan, the 7/7 survivor John Tulloch and the McCartney sisters, whose brother was murdered by members of the IRA. On the night it was broadcast the Doherty interview ranked second on the BBC's list of downloaded video with more than 8,000 requests.

    END OF THE OIL AGE? [21 December 2005]

    People kid themselves into thinking they are not greedy
    Wasyl
    Although I am an addict to Newsnight, your programme on oil was outstanding. Its analysis in depth by so many panel experts, and, of course, those of your staff, gave an opportune and extremely important contribution to the world's dependency on the black stuff. Congratulations to you all and, as usual, to Jeremy Paxman for his masterly presentation.
    Gilberto Ferraz, London

    I was appalled by the fact that not a single climate scientist was involved
    Rick Mills
    Another impressive Newsnight about the end of the oil age. Wonderful on theory but where was the talk of practice (briefly mentioned) in reducing dependency on oil and removing the threat of climate change? Above all I think Newsnight should really explore the most fundamental problem of all: greed. Capitalism, profit, economic growth, the desire to have more, to have it now, you name it - all stem from the simple fact that human greed is at the heart of the problem. People kid themselves into thinking they are not greedy, but all the evidence is there and until humans curtail their greed, the above problems will continue.
    Wasyl, Gloucester

    The end of the oil age discussion was amazing in the way it ignored the salient facts. We have factual estimates of the amount of coal, oil and gas known to exist and the amount which will be used over the next 10, 20, 30+ years if capitalism continues to expand and no changes are made. However much we talk, these facts alone will decide how much time we have to resolve the global problem. Within that timescale we can choose to wait for the market price mechanism or war to ration our use and extend that period. Or we can act through the UN to achieve a global system of taxation and technological change which will use and conserve all forms of energy to the best general effect.
    Owen Ephraim, Chelmsford

    Peak Oil and climate change are the greatest threats to our way of living and we need more discussion and action on these issues
    James Howard
    I watched last night's discussion of climate change and was appalled by the fact that not a single climate scientist was involved. The result was a generally ill-informed discussion, with a couple of contributors having maverick views at odds with scientific opinion.
    Rick Mills, Llandegfan, Menai Bridge

    I don't feel that the full Peak Oil argument was explored but maybe this will be the launch pad for more talk on this subject. Jeremy Paxman's introduction was excellent. Peak Oil and climate change are the greatest threats to our way of living and we need more discussion and action on these issues.
    James Howard, London

    At last, a major mainstream media outlet at least raising the question of fossil fuel depletion
    John Everitt
    As an engineer I was fascinated by last night's feature on the fossil fuel crisis. The engineering community has been aware for some time that the crisis exists because we know that renewable energy sources cannot possibly replace the scale of energy generation we have established using fossil fuels. We also know that it is utter nonsense to talk of "hydrogen economies" and "new technologies". Hydrogen needs energy to manufacture it and there are no new technologies for generating electricity in bulk. The last major development - nuclear energy - is probably the biggest failure in technology in human history. We generate power now in the same way we have done for 100 years. The panel Newsnight put together perfectly illustrated the problem that exists intellectually. The American gentleman came the closest to describing the issue and mentioned the inadequacy of renewables, but he was drowned out by the economist and the academic blue skies pundits, as was the gentleman from the business world.
    Dennis Hickey, Southport

    Good job on the Peak Oil segment last night. The guests were able to get the point across clearly about what Peak Oil is, and more importantly, is not. Hopefully, it brought exposure of this important issue for the 21st century to a wider audience. Note, however, that I can't recall any quote from any western politician even acknowledging the possibility of Peak Oil!
    Alex, Bristol

    What a bloody shambles this programme was - I have never witnessed such a shouting match
    Bud Ellis
    At last, a major mainstream media outlet at least raising the question of fossil fuel depletion, I nearly fell over when I saw Mr Kunstler on your programme last night, shame some of the other guests didn't seem to know too much about the topic. Hydrogen is currently made from gas (non renewable), it is not a fuel in itself - it takes energy to make hydrogen and therefore has a poor energy rate of return to energy input. Anyway, please, please keep this topic in the public eye. We need to radically change our lifestyles and consumption patterns, that is clear, and it's only with shows like yours raising the issue that action may get taken. However, we don't have years to dilly around anymore.
    John Everitt, Warwickshire

    What a bloody shambles this programme was. Considering that Paxman is supposed to be a professional, his performance as mediator was abysmal! I have NEVER witnessed such a shouting match, even the American trying to take part in this fiasco complained but was quickly told to shut up in so many words. If it is now BBC policy to allow a shouting match to occur in what was supposed to be a serious programme then you had better think again. A load of five year olds could have done better!
    Bud Ellis, Sway, Hampshire

    I do enjoy watching enthusiastic experts, especially on such a serious subject. A minor comment - did the Chair let it get out of control by letting everyone talk at once?
    Eric Abel, Hay-on-Wye

    AIDS IN SOUTH AFRICA

    I don't know if this is possible, but I would be so grateful if you could forward on my deepest respect, thoughts, and thanks to Prudence. She is so happy, so full of life, and such an inspiration in such difficult circumstances, that it has been a joy to watch her improving health on Newsnight, and I would like to send her my thanks for that, and my hopes that she continues to enjoy life so much and so well. And thank you, Newsnight, for bringing us these reports and highlighting the continuing problems that HIV/AIDS poses.
    Dave D, London

    Never written before or even thought to. But your report on Aids in South Africa tonight was so strong and powerful I really thought I should. Please pass on my thanks to your correspondent and producers who put that together. To say this is what the very best in TV news should be about is a huge understatement that does not do your work justice. Excellent stuff that makes me proud to pay my TV license every year.
    James Reed, London

    SUE LLOYD-ROBERTS IN ZIMBABWE

    Please relay thanks to Sue Lloyd-Roberts for her VERY brave efforts to tell the world "The Zimbabwe Story".
    Sue Perkins, Bournemouth

    IRAQ HOSTAGES

    Regarding the kidnapping in Iraq, it just shows that our leaders will never negotiate with the captors and we should not visit Iraq, for any purpose.
    Ajiy Habeb, Middlesex

    CAMERON'S FIRST U-TURN? [8 December 2005]

    Why are those who want to see more powers passed to the EU bizarrely called 'pro-Europeans' - what is 'pro-European' about that?
    Stuart Coster
    So, the young pretender has back-tracked on his pledge over the withdrawing of Tory MEPs from the EPP. What a surprise, anything to get Davis out of the running. Well, the Conservatives remain the party of opposition and will do for some time to come if they continue with their tactics. Every one of us can see what is happening but I have to ask, is it Cameron that has made the decision or is it Hague?
    Chris Ray, Guildford

    Will someone please tell Becky Milligan that it is neither accurate nor impartial to describe EU-critics as "anti-Europeans". It is not a neutral descriptive term but one that EU-critics find extremely misrepresentative and offensive. "Anti-Europeans" is a term coined by EU supporters as a calculated smear with the aim of tarring EU-critics as being motivated by a xenophobic and isolationist outlook and designed to side-step what is actually a pragmatic economic and democratic case against barely accountable, supra-national law-making. Further, why are those who want to see more powers passed to the EU, and thus a greater limitation of the democratic rights of ordinary European people, bizarrely called "pro-Europeans"? What is "pro-European" about that? I hope you'll at least agree these terms are controversial and will avoid them in future. There are plenty of acceptable - indeed more accurate - terms you could use instead. eg. EU opponents, EU critics, anti-EU campaigners. Always enjoy the programme - many thanks!
    Stuart Coster, London

    MARK URBAN IN BASRA [8 December 2005]

    A British soldier in Basra

    After the illegal war, after the invasion, after the torture, after the death of civilians, as days goes by I am very proud of the Spanish Government decision to withdraw troops from Iraq.

    Do not tell me rosy stories about British troops in Basra.
    Pelayo, London

    CINDY SHEEHAN INTERVIEW [7 December 2005]

    Cindy Sheehan

    Jeremy Paxman allowed her to say that she thought Bush was impersonal when he met her. Well, that is not what she said at the time. And never mind that he did not ask her to justify claims like "my first born was murdered". Mrs Sheehan's brave son volunteered for a second term in the army and volunteered, when he did not have to, for the mission which ended with his death. Paxman glibly says Iraq is a mess - it is about to hold its first free elections, probably ever. I would like to think the BBC might do more to support democracy. Mrs Sheehan is a sad case but her position is one which she has chosen to put herself in. Mr Paxman's pussyfooting is not excused.
    Trevor Holcroft, Oxford

    DAVID CAMERON [6 and 7 December 2005]

    What was that flowery poetic business from old Paxo?
    Jim Washer
    Did they say David Cameron's election as Conservative leader puts him in the position of the "new boy v yesterday's men" of Labour? I beg their pardon. What about a new boy with a team of the William Hagues, the Ken Clarkes, the Oliver Letwins, the Ian Duncan Smiths of this world. It does not sound much like change in the air. Please let the Conservatives stop their self-congratulation and listen to what others have to say about their choice of leader.
    Bruce King, Manchester

    What was that flowery poetic business from old Paxo at the end of last night's reporting on David Cameron becoming Tory leader? I was half expecting him to break into Rudyard Kipling's "If". It was all a bit scarily uncritical of the new Conservative Boy Wonder, particularly for those of us who still shudder at the memory of the BBC's hagiographic little news piece on John Major just days before the '92 election.
    Jim Washer, London

    I was appalled by the programme last night on David Cameron. It was shallow and appeared to be produced by the Tory party! Rather than a thorough analysis of David Cameron's vision for the country, or his policies, viewers were treated to pictures of him and his colleagues riding bicycles, sitting in posh restaurants chatting casually with the Newsnight interviewer, and a series of black and white photos of Cameron at various public engagements, accompanied by music. Why were we shown these images? What purpose did they serve in helping the public to understand what Cameron is about as a leader? Fortunately, in Jeremy Paxman's subsequent discussion, he and his guests were able to see through the earlier empty broadcast and showed that we have learned nothing substantial about Mr Cameron as a leader or the Tory Party.
    Stephanie Hare-Cuming, London

    I thought that the final montage and words at the end of today's programme was brilliant. Poetic, even. Good enough to make me switch on the computer and write this instead of going to bed, for what it's worth! I don't suppose Mr Paxman wrote the words himself?
    Simon Kaye, London

    Wow. Was the end of Newsnight tonight (the Paxman monologue) just a little true blue than usual? Has he been made executive producer in all but name?!
    Andy Smith, London

    Your programme tonight [7 December 2005] was one of the most politically biased I have seen and for Newsnight that is really saying something. Three items in which the selection of observer/interviewee seemed aimed at attacking Tony Blair.
    Derek Davies, Haywards Heath

    Was it a sign of how far the Conservative Party has come that the only person Newsnight could muster from within the party to be critical of their in-coming leader was well-known extremist Eric Forth MP - a man who believes we ought to adapt to climate change?
    John, London

    Really good report about David Cameron's rise and plans tonight. I am an (old) Labour supporter and I'm sure Cameron will bring the Tories to power. Anyway, since it won't make any difference which Tories get elected, the important point is that the music accompanying the report was really good! Can you tell me who/what it was and whether it is available?
    Shareen Campbell, Swindon

    Newsnight responds:
    The main piece of music used on this piece was Misread by Kings of Convenience.

    SPINSTERHOOD [7 December 2005]

    What about when you receive a BSc - will this then be a Person of Science?
    Jo Rollinson-Smith
    I see the word "spinster" is to disappear (at least, someone is going to try to make it disappear). I think they should not only keep "spinster" but even use it more widely, for degrees: "Spinster of Arts", "The World's most Eligible Spinster" etc. And what about making "bachelor" disappear?
    John Hadfield, Bicester

    A withdrawal of this description may reflect that we are not all old and greying, and allow us to remain "single". But if we are going for equality again, what about the bachelors? Will they all be able to drop the persona of "man about town" - or should that be "cad"? And what about when you receive a BSc? Will this then be a Person of Science?
    Jo Rollinson-Smith, Yorkshire

    PATRICIA HEWITT INTERVIEW [6 December 2005]

    If any private business conducted itself in the same way as the government, its directors would find themselves facing charges of fraud
    Tim Bartlett
    Patricia Hewitt this evening talked about the public being "asked to contribute" towards a better health service. I don't remember being "asked to contribute" - as I recall, we were TOLD that the government was going to TAKE more of our money. And then there's the "pensions crisis", which has happened solely because successive governments have taken our enforced "contributions" and spent them on other things. If any private business conducted itself in the same way as the government, its directors would find themselves facing charges of fraud (at best).
    Tim Bartlett, Southampton

    I have just caught the last part of Mr Paxman's interview with a woman talking about the loss of money in the NHS. Does she realise not only have we all been paying more tax to supplement this, but some people like myself have also lost our jobs. As a welder and fabricator producing hospital equipment. Thanks a lot, misses.
    Mr Andrew Ramsbottom, Hull

    Jeremy could ask Patricia Hewitt why the NHS Trusts cannot break even "taking one year with another" rather than arbitrarily within each separate financial year. The NHS Trust funding shortage is actually only a couple of percent overall, and Trusts are actually very efficient. Why tie their hands?
    Chris Longley, Wakefield

    RENDITIONS

    Why does the BBC keep echoing Condoleezza Rice when she states that US law prohibits torture? The US definition of torture is horrendously narrow. Please make it clear to all your viewers that when the US signed up to The Convention Against Torture And Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment (CAT) in 1994 it did so subject to a reservation providing that the US would prevent "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" insofar as such treatment is prohibited under the Fifth, Eighth and/or 14th Amendments of the US Constitution. This much was acknowledged by Condoleezza Rice when she said torture is defined in law (US law) as "Cruel and Unusual Punishments". What she failed to say is what is meant by "Cruel and Unusual Punishment". In one US Supreme Court case this was defined as "drawing and quartering, disembowelling alive, beheading, public dissecting and burning alive". It is this definition of torture that I believe allows Condoleezza Rice to claim the US does not use torture. Please, if you interview her, can you establish if the above definition of torture is what she means by torture when she states that the US does not use torture.
    Brian Scarsbrook, Alderley Edge, Cheshire

    PAY IN THE NHS (01.12.05)

    Last night's story on NHS pay to GP's and their improved service is not the same over the whole country. One GP interviewed showed how he was improving diabetes welfare. This was unusual as all the GPs that I have come across always pass me onto the diabetic specialists as they have all said that diabetes is not their speciality. The large pay awards are still going to those who already have high earnings, those of us lower down the ladder are having our pay structure reduced.
    David Tanner, Exeter

    I was really impressed with Stephanie Flanders's piece on the NHS last night (01.12.2005). Doctors in the NHS are being paid too much money at present. Most GPs now earn at least 70k pa and some, who play the system well, are on 100k+. This is scandalous, and it's about time the public heard about what is going on. It's clear the Government's new contract for GPs contained targets that were too easy to achieve.
    John, Exeter




  • SEE ALSO:
    Feedback - November 2005 (page 2)
    25 Nov 05 |  Newsnight Home
    Feedback - October 2005
    05 Oct 05 |  Newsnight Home
    Feedback - September 2005
    06 Sep 05 |  Newsnight Home
    Feedback - August 2005
    04 Aug 05 |  Newsnight Home
    Feedback - July 2005
    15 Jul 05 |  Newsnight Home



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