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BBC TwoNewsnight
Last Updated: Friday, 17 February 2006, 13:13 GMT
When will Steve Smith write his biog?

Stuart Denman
By Stuart Denman
Newsnight website

  • I'm on holiday this week, but here's our webmaster Stuart Denman with his feedback on the week on the web...

    We had some very exciting news at the start of the week - the GorDaq was down three points.

    Not that we were revelling in the fact that it had dropped, but that it had changed at all, having been content to sit in room 101 since the 20th January.

    But not everyone loves our GorDaq. David Wortherspoon of Lancashire has suggested that we "flush it away", while Daniel Davis from London reckons that "the GorDaq isn't really working".

    I think it's fair to say that the GorDaq's admirers outweigh its detractors. Darren Gartside from Liverpool posted an agreeably succinct "Genius!", and Robert R Routledge, from Manchester, said of Gordon Brown: "even if his legacy as Chancellor is not remembered, the innovative GorDaq index most certainly will!"

    Paul Mason during his report on Europe
    Paul Mason knows how to relax and enjoy himself
    Whether you love or loathe Newsnight's GorDaq, it's all about ideas.

    I'm always impressed by the range of innovations that the Newsnight team come up with, day in, day out, to help bring the programme alive for our viewers.

    And how quickly they happen - in Thursday's morning meeting we discussed the use of pastiche to illustrate a story on free trade in Europe; by the evening this had become Paul Mason (tie-less, of course, about which we still get e-mails) on a chaise longue, flanked by two semi-dressed actors, in a Eurotrash spoof. We don't do things by halves on Newsnight, but we sometimes do them half-dressed.

    A range of reactions

    Our viewers are at the heart of what we do and the website is where they can really take part
    On the website we try to reflect this flow of ideas, and as part of our forthcoming redesign we'll be asking our viewers for their ideas as well. You'll be able to send in your suggestions for the programme and the website. And one viewer is ahead of the game:

    "I have a camera, a microphone, I'm on broadband and am a slow typist - therefore, why not arrange for feedback on the above technology?"
    Gwynne Job, Llanelli

    Well, why not? We're extremely fortunate in that we have the support and huge enthusiasm of Newsnight's editor. That Peter's column last week was entitled "This website's on fire" was nothing glib. It reflected his and our genuine excitement that we'd had a particularly strong week, with a massive amount of audience feedback. Our viewers are at the heart of what we do and the website is where they can really take part.

    "I am not surprised that the website is on fire!" said June Gibson, London. "Time was that if one wanted to comment on a programme it was quite a task... Nowadays an opinion can be voiced straight away. And what a host of opinions they are."

    I just love your programme, matey!
    Maureen Ramsay, London
    We certainly do get a range of reactions to what we do, and we're not shy of criticism, but it can often be an interesting experience opening up Newsnight's inbox in the morning.

    Of course, viewers do not need to confine themselves to Newsnight's own website to comment on the programme. We like to keep an eye on the blogs to find out what those who are unrestrained by the necessary moderation of myself or my colleagues are saying elsewhere on line.

    One of the items picked up this week was the news that Newsnight is being added to the BBC's podcasting trials.

    As Gordon MacMillan said on Tuesday, posting to his own blog, "That's right, Paxman on your iPod...scary."

    It's useful to know they're there

    I've long been conscious that our site does not host a full complement of correspondent biographies, something I'd like to rectify in time for the site's redesign.

    Stephen Smith
    It can sometimes be hard to track Stephen Smith down
    There's something about personal biographies that makes even the most verbose reporters shrink away from their computers. Not so long ago I discovered that two of our female correspondents had made a pact that neither would write a biog for the site. Since then one has gone on maternity leave and the other has broken their pact.

    Biographies are rather like the list of ingredients on a tin of food - seldom read, but it's useful to know they're there.

    I've been chasing Steve Smith for his biog for some time now, but he's a slippery customer. Faced with the demands of popping up on Newsnight Review at unexpected moments, or disappearing for a chat with Leo Sayer, it's clear that our culture correspondent is going to take some persuading to divulge any information about himself.

    A bit like Orson Welles in The Third Man, he turns up by one of the fire exits of Television Centre after dark, to be dispatched on an important cultural assignment such as visiting Ben Fogle in bed. That's all we know about him.


    Images from Newsnight's reports, 'Nepal' and 'Special Needs'

    If you aren't one of our nocturnal viewers who can get by on just a couple of hours of sleep a night, you may well have retired to bed before the end of the programme and missed a few gems this week - it happens to the best of us.

    However, our broadband service goes from strength to strength and we're adding new media to our player daily. If you missed them, I'd recommend Humphrey Hawksley's film on special needs schooling, and Sue Lloyd-Roberts excellent report from Nepal.

    But enough from me. Next week, this column will be back in the rightful hands of Newsnight's editor. But when you next send Newsnight your thoughts, remember that it might be this one-time columnist on the other end of them. Seldom read, but it's useful to know I'm here.


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