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BBC TwoNewsnight
Last Updated: Thursday, 23 March 2006, 11:23 GMT
Titter ye not

By Peter Barron
Newsnight editor


    What do you think of our new, improved Newsnight website then?

    Frankie Howerd
    If you haven't already, why not bookmark it, make it your home-page, or better still take part - as they say these days - in a unique interactive experiment.

    Every day our webmaster Stuart checks obsessively the overnight statistics for the number of requests for video on BBC news websites. Our figures have been rising steadily over recent months and this week we hit the top 10.

    But Stuart really wants to be number one, and this is where you come in. Last night, for example, the top rated bit of video was the amazing pictures of the new Japanese "robocarp", with 34,209 requests.

    Some of you - a little ungallantly in my view - have been complaining in recent weeks about my photograph
    Now, there are 50,000 Newsnight viewers who subscribe to this e-mail, so if all of you CLICK HERE to request last night's item about Frankie Howerd, we'd go straight in at number one. Go on, you know it makes sense.

    Now the news where?

    Last week I asked you to send in examples of things that news presenters say which you really hate. As news presenters say, we were overwhelmed with the response.

    Huw Edwards
    'And now the news wherever the hell you are' - unthinkable...
    Now that list of irritating newspeak clichés is being circulated to the editors of all our news programmes and soon those phrases you hate could start evaporating from your screen.

    We still don't, I'm afraid, have a solution to the "now the news where you are" problem. Thanks for your many suggestions, a large proportion of which were from the USA and Canada, where they have a lot of news where you are.

    "Now the local news," suggests Beth from Oregon. Trouble is, Beth, in devolved Britain local just doesn't work. Technically, I think, it's news from the nations, regions and Channel Islands. Not snappy, I agree.

    "Here is your news," says Patrick Moore from Hamilton, Canada. Very North American and inclusive Patrick, but if the news coming up is your news, what was the news we just had - our news? Not very White Paper friendly.

    Collette Dauphinais from Thunder Bay, Ontario, doesn't see the problem:

    "'And now the news wherever the hell you are' sounds pretty good to me," she says.

    Be careful what you wish for Collette, one night Huw might just say it.

    Dear viewer, feel your power

    And this week your influence is being felt closer to home - don't say we don't pay attention.

    Peter Barron
    Spot the difference: Peter Barron before and after being told to titter
    Some of you - a little ungallantly in my view - have been complaining in recent weeks about my photograph.

    Here was Luke Aherne from Glasgow:

    "Any chance we could get a happier photo on the column? I'm not even asking for a smile, just something so that Peter doesn't look like he's about to burst into tears."

    Now, in the old unlistening BBC this might have gone unheeded. No more. This week the multi-talented Stuart whisked me off to the photographers and spent 20 minutes coaxing what we like to think is a relaxed yet authoritative smile. [And I still have the out-takes - Stuart]

    So why stop with that modest achievement? Let Stuart know what you think works and doesn't work on the site and what you'd like more and less of.


    Why do newsreaders look so pleased when they are reading out bad news?
    Terence Moody
    I agree this photo is a great improvement on the tearful previous one, but the enigmatic "smile" does now look as though you are modelling a shirt for a catalogue and trying to look very earnest and suave. Can you not be a little more relaxed and actually crack a real smile?
    Fiona, Colombo

    What is the point of a reporter standing in the street outside a palace or government office to tell us what has happened hours before?
    Sue Jackson
    All of our friends are driven quite mad by the interminable "drumming" which seems to accompany the news on just about every channel. It really is quite intolerable and at home we often simply switch off until the drum beats fade out. If things carry on like this, the drumming will soon be continued throughout the entire news programme and then we won't be able to hear the newsreaders at all. One other point: why do (most) newsreaders look so pleased when they are reading out bad news? One female was reading an item about the death of a famous film-star recently, and she appeared to be smiling the whole time. This really is most inappropriate.
    Terence Moody, Leatherhead, Surrey

    What is the point of a reporter standing in the street outside a palace or government office to tell us what has happened hours before, especially when it is late at night and all the staff have probably gone home? This does not add more weight to the story, whatever the editor may think.
    Sue Jackson, Mansfield, Notts

    Is that the best you could do vis a vis a smile, Peter? In the first photo you looked rather worried and concerned, but in the second it looks as though you have been told of someone's troubles and now couldn't care less. I enjoy reading your column every week. Thank you for keeping me in touch with the UK.
    Madeleine Brierley, Chorley, Lancs, presently living in New Zealand

    I don't have any objection to "now the news where you are" as an expression, but keeping in mind that the BBC reaches a global audience, it's just not true. Since the local/regional news on BBC television refers only to British cities and regions, and since providing "local" news from every city/region in the world is beyond even the BBC's capability, why not quit being so PC and so inclusive. Perhaps the presenters could say "and now the local and regional news in Britain." That's not a snappy phrase but it's accurate. As for your photo - er, NO Peter, it's gloomier than the original one.
    Irina Somerton, Los Angeles, California (and London, England)

    The problem is where they put the stress ON usually the least important word IN the sentence
    Why not let the regional/national presenters introduce themselves? So Huw says, "I'll be back with the headlines before seven". The opt out presenters pick up and say - "but until then here's the news from Yorkshire and the North Midlands". Also could Huw stop saying "Welcome back" when he returns with the final summary. We haven't been anywhere - he has. He simply has to say "and now for a summary of the headlines."
    Barrie, York

    This isn't a particular thing newsreaders say as much as how they say it - this is especially so for TV links. The problem is where they put the stress ON usually the least important word IN the sentence, and in the process mispronounce it. The vowel will become unstressed rather than stressed WITH a completely different sound. Now we're going TO the weather.
    Mark Crompton, London

    I'm worried for you - in the new picture I still think you look a little... upset
    The new photo: looks more like a catalogue model than a news editor. A bit more optimistic looking than the previous one, though. How about in profile or holding a telephone and looking at a screen?
    Iain Scarlett, Rickmansworth

    Can we see the outtakes? Please!
    Kate, London

    I'm worried for you. In the new picture I still think you look a little - upset. Not quite hysterical or anything, not distraught by any means, just perhaps on the verge of tears. I suggest some time off work, or maybe a daily dose of doughnuts - the sugar rush alone from, say, seven or eight of those spaced evenly throughout the afternoon will last you through until well after 11 on a wave of euphoria (or maybe news-phoria).
    Dylan, Cardiff

    The website looks great! Easy to follow! Has all the necessary items in the correct places! Congrats!
    Chris Chivers, Thorndale, Canada

    Loving the "last night's running order" feature. Even better would be to have "tonight's running order" in the daily e-mail, so we know not only what's coming up but what amount of coverage each will receive. New website good, overall.
    Adam Knowles, London

    Oh no. Don't go and change Peter's photo it was great as it was. Why does everyone always have to have a falsely smiling face?
    Ralph Tonks, Loughborough

    Your last picture made me want to hand the pic on the site a tissue and say "there, there, it may never happen".
    Mei Lim, Exeter

    I prefer the old photo - the new one makes you look like you just got dragged in from barbecuing on a Sunday
    I really like your news and your comments, also the jokes fit for an 11 year old, but can't you talk BBC World or Prime into transmitting the programme to the world?
    Gillian Holby, Oslo, Norway

    Love the new picture of Peter! Also, I thoroughly enjoy all the newsletters from Newsnight's excellent team, and although I no longer live in the UK and therefore don't have the opportunity to watch the programme, I occasionally watch video selections from it. Once the broadband connection here gets better (and cheaper!) I shall be doing a lot more of that. Keep up the very good work, Peter and all the team!
    Sharmian Niel, Barbados, formerly of Lancashire

    Overall, enjoy the changes to the site a lot. Allow me to go all web developer on you for a moment. The "Watch the latest programme" takes up a lot of screen real estate. I wonder if it wouldn't be better used providing more info on the lead story/stories? Just a thought, keep up the good work. By the way, I prefer the old photo - the new one makes you look like you just got dragged in from barbecuing on a Sunday.
    Keith, Perth, Australia

    I loved the video clip of Frankie Howerd. A short distraction from the challenges of the day is always welcomed. A lot of your viewers probably fall into the "achievers" category so the prospect of having the Newsnight website at number one is a big incentive. Personally, I enjoy a bit of humour on the programme but please do not go too "twee or tabloid". There is plenty of that elsewhere which most of your viewers will wish to avoid. What about assigning one night per week/month to a short regular slot for Science, IT/Technology, Natural History, Humour, Music etc? Anyway, thanks for keeping the programme and website "in tune" with your viewers.
    Irene Stewart, Bloxham, Banbury

    I thoroughly enjoyed this column! I love the BBC, and I love Newsnight, but I love even more the "insight" into Newsnight. Behind-the-scenes, personal things are the most interesting to me! Thanks, BBC, for being there for the world!
    Glen Barney, Campbell, California, USA

    Being a Brit living way out here I love to read your column each week, enabling me to keep in touch with what's going on over there. I didn't even have to be prompted to watch the Frankie Howerd video. With regard to the local news announcement, how about something like "Here now is more localized news" or "the news in your area"? With regard to your current photo, I think it is cute and makes you look vulnerable and appealing. Keep up the good work!
    Elizabeth Brunt, Oregon, USA

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