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BBC TwoNewsnight
Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 May 2006, 14:43 GMT 15:43 UK
Feedback - April 2006
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 and send us your views from this page.


This month:

General comments
Floating voters
NHS pay
Political greenness
Football
Flight 93
Dobbing
Michael Howard's report on crime
Bird flu
Michael Crick
Inside Latin America

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


GENERAL COMMENTS

Wouldn't it be great if at least half the people that watch reality TV shows watch Newsnight?
Sam Khalil
I know, I know, it's trivial, but please don't call Newsnight a "show" (as Gavin Esler did this evening, asking us to visit the site and leave feedback about the "show"). Why use an American word instead of the perfectly good English word "programme"? It's not just that it's irritating from a pedantic point of view. It's that it makes the programme sound like entertainment rather than news, which can't be good for the Newsnight brand.
Anne Murphy, London

Great show, very informative. Wouldn't it be great if at least half the people that watch reality TV shows watch Newsnight! And that's coming from an outgoing 22 year old!
Sam Khalil, London

FLOATING VOTERS [19-20 April 2006]

FLOATING VOTERS
A member of Frank Luntz's focus group dials their response

I have to comment about the report about leaders and floating voters, and the posters which are brought out with pictures of current leaders, and potential leaders. It's obvious that the colouring of picture and stance of each person chosen is guiding the debate. Gordon Brown pictured in a harsh lime, with a frown compared to a purple (soft) and turquoise (soft) colouring of the Labour and Conservative leaders who both have smiles on their faces. I'm not particularly a Gordon Brown supporter, but in a debate such as this, which is aimed at the large number of floating voters (of which I'm sure a lot watch this programme) a fair discussion regarding our prime minister, and possible prime ministers, would be the least we could ask for. I must comment that this seams to be very basic crowd control, aimed at getting the result that the presenter, or programme maker wanted.
Westley Bone, Wolverhampton

I despair of Newsnight's "focus group" quizzed tonight about the political leaders. What a bunch of superficial airheads. Swing voters they may be, but their opinions are based on the prejudices of Big Brother viewers, and their inclination willingly to form snap judgments based on Frank Luntz's showbiz presentation suggests British democracy could be undermined by Pop Idol presentation. Makes me want to scream.
Roger Cowell, Keighley

In last night's excellent item on the rating of politicians by your American pollster, I was suddenly transported right into the middle of an episode of The Thick of It. One of the "floating voters" suddenly looked very familiar to me - lady at the back, dark spiral-permed hair - said she voted liberal at the last election. Then it hit me - she is the actress appearing in the Splenda sweetener advert who tells the camera that everyone loves her "no-sugar" gingerbread. This is the exact plotline from The Thick of it where the minister runs policy past a focus group of one only to find that she is an actress pretending to be a single-mother from a council estate. I realise that everyone is allowed to vote - even actors. Maybe you are subliminally promoting the BAFTA chances of Thick of it!
Adrian Weatherley, Sawtry, Cambridgeshire

NHS PAY [19 April 2006]

PROGRAMME PRODUCER LIZ GIBBONS RESPONDS TO YOUR COMMENTS:

We are aware that the system of clinical attachments for foreign trained doctors has been in place for some time. But our report exposed problems with the way the system is working - which is leading to many foreign doctors working free of charge in the NHS.

The Department of Health statement made clear that people on clinical attachments should only be observing other doctors, not having hands on experience of treating patients. Liz Mackean's report highlighted that doctors on clinical attachments are, in fact, treating patients, in contravention of the rules. The Department of Health also stated that clinical attachments should only last for a period of some months. But we highlighted the fact that many doctors are spending much longer - a year or more in some cases - on such attachments in the hope of finding a paid job afterwards.

The British Medical Association's representative on Newsnight made clear that there are serious concerns in the profession about whether foreign doctors on such attachments are being "exploited" by working for long periods for no money, particularly in the context of the financial problems many NHS trusts are now facing.


LINKS
A blood pressure cuff on a patient's arm
I have just seen the report on "honorary" (ie unpaid) contracts for doctors in the NHS. This seemed to come as a surprise to Newsnight and some of those they interviewed. In my experience the use of "honorary" contracts is widespread in the NHS. I am now a chartered psychologist but, during my training, I was employed on various honorary contracts for a period of around two and a half years so that I could gain clinical experience. In most cases, no expenses for things such as travel were paid either. This is standard for counsellors, psychotherapists and psychologists prior to qualification and is not confined to the NHS. Many organisations (including profit making ones) employ the practice of hiring trainees on unpaid contracts.
Colin Matthews, Bournemouth

I knew of an immensely talented doctor working in a hospital in central London free of charge on a clinical research project. The doctor concerned was a microbiologist, who worked with the consultant in that hospital, where she developed a research project and her only consolation was getting the experience and travel expenses! She worked for six months and is currently in a consultant post in India. I believe since she was exploited in some way by the system.
Dr A Gupta, London

In my five years on the wards I have seen many, many overseas doctors on clinical attachments - I beg to differ with your claim that they are working for free
Dr Williams
I am overseas medical graduate. I was highly qualified when first arrived and got higher degrees in the UK. I worked for free at the start of my career in the early 90s. This was in an NHS hospital for 18 months. This was before I secured a paid training post. This was the only way to compete for a job. Now I am a consultant working both in the NHS trust and private sector.
Anon

I feel this piece was inaccurate and irresponsible. I am currently a junior doctor in the NHS and have been for two years. Prior to this I was a medical student - on clinical attachments for three years. In my five years on the wards I have seen many, many overseas doctors on clinical attachments. I beg to differ with your claim that they are working for free. They are there as observers, learning how the NHS works, improving their diagnostics skills and improving their knowledge and in many cases improving their English skills. In every case I have seen they are supervised closely and although they do see patients they are not allowed to make any unsupervised management decisions or carry out procedures. I would argue that the vast majority of these doctors definitely need to go through this period of clinical attachment. Although these doctors all have medical degrees the quality of their education is much more variable than doctors trained in the UK. While some have excellent knowledge and skills, some need this period of observation to improve their skills in a supervised environment. Clinical attachment is an ideal way of doing this. I feel the way you presented your story grossly overestimated the problem. I also feel you presented the whole system as a means for the NHS to gain free labour. I would be appalled to see doctors taken advantage of but I just don't feel this is the case.
Dr Williams, London

International Medical Graduates (IMGs) working in the NHS for free is not new and the trend has been steadily increasing. Rapid and radically changing NHS reforms including the introduction of Modernising Medical Careers, transforming the training pathway for all doctors in UK, expansion of the UK medical workforce and the upsurge in the influx of medical graduates from both overseas and the European Union have ALL contributed to the intense and fierce competition for junior doctor posts. Not surprisingly, overseas doctors are then willing to overcome any hurdle that come their way, including working for free in the NHS for a limited period in the hope that this experience will improve their prospects of securing a coveted training or even a non-training post that would earn income. To address the job crisis, the Department of Health and Home Office have abruptly introduced a new immigration ruling without any consultation process in which all non-EU doctors working or wishing to work in the NHS will be required to have a work permit, which will only be granted by the employer if they cannot find a suitably qualified resident worker to do the job. This effectively ends equal opportunities and recruitment based on merit.
Asha Neelakantan, Cambridge

Your report suggesting overseas doctors working unpaid in the NHS is grossly exaggerated; as a doctor I have never seen one - many beg to do clinical attachments but that is not employment
Jake Foreman
Your coverage on foreign doctors working for free in the NHS reveals no new information for those familiar with the NHS system. This arrangement, in a way, was mutually beneficial until recently. You alluded to another great injustice that is taking place at the moment, but unfortunately failed to highlight it further. For decades, the NHS was lacking doctors (junior and senior) and were encouraging overseas doctors to come to plug this big hole. For decades, these doctors have left their country and family, spent thousands of pounds (often had to sell house and borrow money) to come to UK to fulfil their dreams, both from economic as well as training points of views, and at the same time providing the much needed service in this country. This has been mutually beneficial, at least until recently. The government (home office, department of health, GMC) suddenly decided in March 06 that these foreign doctors' visas will no longer be renewed when their current contracts expire. This is a very unfair treatment and will affect thousands of overseas doctors. It's especially harsh on those who have invested a few years of their lives and significant amounts of money here: on the eve of higher training ladder, they were told they can longer compete for the jobs and had to leave! This change in policy has literally ruined thousands of lives!
C Lee, oxford

Your report suggesting overseas doctors working unpaid in the NHS is grossly exaggerated; as a doctor I have never seen one. Many beg to do clinical attachments but that is not employment. I welcome the long-overdue introduction of work-permits for overseas doctors. Firstly, they do not come for education or because they prefer to treat British patients; their real motivation is the extremely high cash rewards and hence virtually all would like to permanently stay beyond their initial visa period, depriving their own population of much more needed medical service. Secondly, it is unacceptable that any country should not give preference to its own recently qualified doctors, most of whom have made great sacrifices, including a substantial financial debt. Shortly after 1997 the Labour Government decided to increase medical school production by 70 percent and all these new extra doctors are now becoming available. Last year, half of these new doctors in my hospital, junior house officers, had not found employment at the end of their final year, something I have never seen before. You will have seen the many letters sent to the papers by others, their parents and their organisations. The DOH then flatly denied the problem but I suspect they knew then, or soon learned, that it was the true situation; hence the rapid introduction of the permits. Britain does not owe any foreigner any education or employment and the sooner overseas doctors realise that they should now stay at home to treat their own needy, the better for all involved.
Jake Foreman, St Leonards-on-Sea

A fundamental problem is the term 'clinical attachment' - it should be changed to clinical observer and strict time limits put on these attachments
Dr Jonathan Myers
Regarding the family doctor's income, there are two tiers created here. The fat cats who earn Ģ250,000 and family doctors who are salaried (thin cats!) who earn a fifth of that amount max. For this reason practices mainly offer salaried jobs and hardly any partnerships, making salaried family doctors a majority now.
Dr Aida Mikhail, Warrington

Your report on overseas doctors working for free within the NHS was poorly researched. Clinical attachments are observers only. There is a cultural difference in that junior doctors in India, where the majority of overseas doctors are schooled, actually do have an observational role when working in India. In India ONLY the senior doctors make decisions. The confusion then comes as the observing doctors who through pride feel that they are working. Indeed they say they are working as a clinical attachment when indeed they are observing. The occasional blood taking or other task is provided for education of the trainee and not as a job. The problem of overseas doctors is one of the attachments overstepping the mark and trying to work rather than the NHS relying on them or encouraging them to work. A fundamental problem is the term "clinical attachment" - it should be changed to clinical observer and strict time limits put on these attachments.
Dr Jonathan Myers, London

POLITICAL GREENNESS [19 April 2006]

LINKS
David Cameron
Last night you ran an article on how green the larger parties are and had an interesting discussion about this. Surely this would have been the ideal time to invite a Green Party spokesperson onto Newsnight? Jenny Jones (Member GLA) both of the Green Party's MEPs are highly articulate and could have exposed the shallowness of the green veneer of the three grey parties.
Kevin Cranston, Stroud

The fact that all the main political parties are jumping on the green bandwagon is not a cause for celebration, it is deeply worrying
Ken Brown
I am appalled by the homogenisation of British politics as portrayed in your piece about the greening of the Tories and Labour. The fact that all the main political parties are jumping on the green bandwagon is not a cause for celebration, it is deeply worrying. Where do you go and for whom do you vote if you disagree with the hype and the green agenda? Or perhaps non "green" points of view will soon become politically incorrect and not to be voiced in public. Is this the new Puritanism?
Ken Brown, Stroud

Any chance you can give the hectoring over "green issues" a miss? My household, like many in inner London, doesn't have a car, when I go on holiday I get the train (because I like trains), and I recycle because it's easier than chucking stuff out. Many people don't have two or three cars to stop using, and care deeply about how the world is, and how we interact with the world. It doesn't make us "green", and to pander to the parties' spin doctors on this does you no favours. Insisting on green taxes does nothing for the rich - who just pay the extra, but deprives the poor of cheap holidays. I'm off to turn light bulbs on now (as I go to bed). I'll then turn them off (when I go to sleep).
George Wright, London

FOOTBALL [18 April 2006]

David Beckham
Some people were pleased by Garth Crooks' England piece
At last some one is taking sport seriously! I was delighted that the 'back pages' were shown on the show tonight. Not since the infamous Cantona Kung Fu kick , inspiring Paxo to comment 'now for the story every one is talking about' has the back pages been shown their true importance. Keep it up!
Max Hammond, Rickmansworth

No disrespect to Garth - but do we have to have football analysis on Newsnight? This was the one programme NOT suggesting football is as important as national and international politics - the new format isn't even good for sport generally, because the 'back pages' always show football bias.
Emilie Edwards, London

FLIGHT 93 [12 April 2006]

LINKS
Why did Newsnight find it necessary to interview someone about the Flight 93 court case who was so biased that they were not able to even answer the questions? Some of his answers included hearsay. What he was able to report was how emotive it was. If that was what his interest is, then interview him on that. If this was your best shot at information about the case then do some research like where did the wreckage from the plane disappear to?
Anna Boyle, London

DOBBING [12 April 2006]

Your views: Dob dob dob

The Fimbles
No, it's not Jeremy, Gavin and Kirsty - it's CBBC's The Fimbles
Don't get me wrong, I love Newsnight, I watch it at least nightly. But tonight's programme contained less news than The Fimbles. Please - it is Newsnight, not Stories That Feature Heavily in the Tabloids Night. What was the point on the fairly worthless piece on dobbing? Couldn't we have had a single word about the Italian elections?
Tess Read, London

I have just been watching Newsnight and the debate on informing on people breaking hosepipe bans. My point is that on this programme, and others in recent weeks, it is always stated that "the country" is suffering from a water shortage. In our area the situation is reversed - farmers cannot get tractors on to waterlogged fields and we heard on BBC Radio Derby this morning that the opening cricket match of the season has to be moved to the Oval because the Derby ground is too wet for the safety of the players. Please remember that the South East is not "the country".
RT Cundill, Buxton

MICHAEL HOWARD'S REPORT ON CRIME [11 April 2006]

Michael Howard

Mr Howard shot himself in the foot with that rather pathetic piece of political spin doctoring. I found myself laughing out loud at how completely out of touch this man is! The stolen car, wheel-spinning with the laughing kids, in some run-down dump of a council estate was supposed to re-enforce his idea that we should put more people in prison! Have you ever talked to anyone who isn't from a public school? Who are you saying this to, Mr Howard?
Mr D Stewart, London

I cannot understand why Newsnight gave Michael Howard extended time to forward his failed and outdate ideas on crime. In effect, it was a Party Political Broadcast for the Conservative Party, when there are better ways of using the available time.
Roger Cowell, East Morton, W Yorkshire

I was fascinated by the piece on Michael Howard last night and his influences on crime. The one point that disappointed me was the lack of an eloquent voice that felt and could voice the fallout from his measures. I for one have had my DNA taken and held on the database without my consent and despite never having committed a crime since I was 14 (now 45). As a black man, I also feel that the police abused the powers to victimise large sectors of the black community. Flouting civil liberties makes apprehending and convicting suspects easy and gives the appearance that the police are winning the war against crime, but prison graduates are more likely to become hardened criminals. Britain now has the biggest prison population (per capita or otherwise) in Europe but has the fastest growing violent crime, especially armed assaults in the same context. London also boasts the most CCTVs and Londoners are the most spied on people on earth yet crimes committed today will be greater in number and consequence than in the early 90s. A combination of measures that have eroded our civil liberties are useful in solving crime and bringing to book perpetrators but have no effect on the underlying causes or incidences.
Tshepo, London

It strikes me and many, "mostly law abiding people", that most people that speak on the topic of the problem of crime only wish to pay lip service to the problem, to meet their own ends, as long as it does not impact on their own middle class values, and decent neighbourhoods. There are, with maybe some simplification, only three steps needed to have a real impact on crime; 1 - Replace all of the existing judges and magistrates with publicly elected ones; 2 -Reinstate corporal punishment both for children in schools, and adults alike; 3 - Return to the death penalty as the ultimate sanction, not just for murder, but for rape and serious crimes against children. These three measures, we can think of them as the three Rs, would instantly solve prison costs and overcrowding, possibly to the extent that prison, other than being used for remanding defendants before trial, would be almost obsolete. I believe these measures, along with decriminalising all classifications of drugs so they could be taxed and controlled, would have a net benefit to our schools and pensioners, rather than those who have proved that they have no place in society.
Colwyn Seaforth, Ashbourne

BIRD FLU

Perhaps some countries should start to look at Finland's methods and instead of panic-planning look at effective planning
Colin Crichton-Turley
My parents run a large commercial chicken farm. I'd like to know what protection they have against the spread of animal-human contamination? They have not been given any kind of advice on whether or not they will be given priority preventative treatment, or what will happen if they were to become infected themselves. There is lots of bio-security on the farm to help prevent the animals from coming into contact from the disease, and lots of talk about a human pandemic, but there's no protection for the people who must surely be at the highest risk because they are in contact with the birds?
Name withheld on request

Experts have frequently repeated "there is no risk to humans if poultry and eggs are properly prepared and cooked..." BUT I have had food poisoning several times from chicken eaten in restaurants that has not been properly cooked!
Mike Hall, Manchester

The Finnish government has assured all people living in Finland that there are already 3,000,000 vaccinations available for a population of 5,000,000 and, when/if the disease becomes human transmittable, then everyone will have the appropriate vaccine within three weeks. I realise that the population is much smaller, but it would appear that the government of Finland has already decided that a gamble with human lives is not acceptable. It was the same thing when the Euro was adopted. The whole logistical programme was fed in, and the currency fed through with supreme efficiency. This time I know that Finland is much larger than most EU countries. They imposed a price-freeze for three months to ensure people could adapt easily to the new currency. Perhaps some countries should start to look at Finland's methods and instead of panic-planning look at effective planning.
Colin Crichton-Turley, Turku, Finland

MICHAEL CRICK

LINKS
Michael Crick
It is always a spark in the evening to see Mr Michael Crick challenging members of Parliament and others to put their respective cases to the public. Mr Crick has recently appeared on Newsnight pressing David Cameron on various issues. Mr Cameron has appeared rude, arrogant and dismissive in response to questions put to him. I hope Mr Crick continues to keep his own cool and put the important matters of the day to those that should know better. I send this note really just to say that it looks tough out there working as a reporter but boy is it being done. Steady as she goes Mr Crick and keeping plugging them.
Richard Brautigan, Paris

Please could you give Michael Crick a regular part on the programme - he is great at making a nuisance of himself with the politicians!
Caerwyn Williams, Cardiff

INSIDE LATIN AMERICA [3-7 April]

Inside Latin America
Thanks so much for your brilliant Latin America week, it has given me a lot to think about - excellent reporting, very interesting and it is about time we know more about this giant continent in terms of politics and culture and its people. Very well done.
Laura Macleod, Oxford

I think the series on Latin America is simply brilliant. I am enjoying every minute of it.
Daniel Gurrola, London

I hope you do more of these programmes with more in-depth analysis of what is really going on in Latin America society
Mariana Fassnidge
I believe that the BBC's eyes on Latin America were long overdue. It is more than a continent with samba, incredibly beautiful people, fantastic music and funny characters. I would have liked that you also look into other countries, such as the one I am living in, Chile, with its new Chilean woman President, Mrs Bachelet. I hope you do more of these programmes with more in-depth analysis of what is really going on in Latin America society, with its artists, writers, musicians, dancers, photographers, scientists, discoveries, and all that this new world has to offer to Europe.
Mariana Fassnidge, Santiago, Chile

With a title like 'Inside Latin America' I was hoping for new insights and points of view - sadly, the programmes have only skirted over the surface
Nick Cohu
With a title like "Inside Latin America" I was hoping for new insights and points of view. Sadly, the programmes have only, irritatingly, glibly skirted over the surface. To understand where Latin America now is and where it wants to go, you should have analysed and shown us HOW it was 10, 20, 30-50 years ago. Donīt forget that here in Western Europe we really know very little about its past and you missed a great opportunity to give us an independent overview instead of tabloid like reports. I have many friends there and they all tell me that basically they are awakening from years of deceit and disappointment - not only from their own leaders but also from the USA.
Nick Cohu, Stuttgart, Germany

I was impressed with the report in general and glad to see the BBC interviewer wasn't intimidated by the bullying tactics of Otto Reich.
Scott Henney, London

As a resident of Peru I am subjected to local TV news, which is ratings-driven and lacks any substance. A combination of Newsnight online and the Economist usually keep me in touch with the real issues. But I could be forgiven for thinking I was watching a Peruvian broadcast on Monday, for the programme was awful. Newsnight had a great opportunity to probe both Humala and Chavez on some of their past comments and actions, or at the very least to have mentioned them during the reports. Their shared anti-American sentiment is insignificant in comparison to some of these issues. Instead, we got a sham of a game of chess, some tomfoolery in Caracas, but you really pulled out all the stops with the shiny new theme tune. Very poor indeed.
Calum Michie, Lima, Peru

Your reports, slightly flawed as they are, are an important contribution, and make me proud of the BBC
Alan Matthews
I am writing to add my support to the criticisms made about Gavin Esler's interviews with Ollanta Humala and Otto Reich. There is no doubt that the US has had a longstanding policy of interference with Latin American politics, yet Esler's framing of nearly every question put to Humala relied too much upon North American references. This only perpetuates the caricature of leftist politicians in Latin America as anti-American or anti-globalist, when their policies are intended to gain positive outcomes for their own peoples. There is a willingness to experiment and redistribute wealth in order to create more equitable societies, and this surely is of more interest to UK viewers than asking hypothetical questions about "What would Bush think?" That said, thank you for devoting your resources to this most important topic. Esler was right when he said that Bush had "taken his eye off the ball" with regards to Latin America due to imperial engagements elsewhere. It seems that the White House and Congress are returning their gaze to their Southern neighbours, and as that has spelled trouble in the past, we should all be watching too. Your reports, slightly flawed as they are, are an important contribution, and make me proud of the BBC.
Alan Matthews, Newcastle upon Tyne

It's naive to address the situation of Venezuela as a conflict between nations
Alejandro Gil
I like your series on Latin America. What we would like to see is news on LA, rather than a blitz special in one week and then nothing for years. For example you missed the story covered on the continent, about the US using chemical and biological weapons in Latin America, endangering the Amazonian rainforest in the process. That was news in Germany but not a trace of it in the Anglo press.
Martin Harrison, Skegness

It's a shame that the BBC and especially the Newsnight team had to rely for its coverage on such a mediocre journalist as Greg Palast. It's naive to address the situation of Venezuela as a conflict between nations. Newsnight's staff is much more professional than that - unfortunately its resources are all oriented to the Middle East, Europe and America.
Alejandro Gil, London

I have been watching your Latin America special programmes with great interest. I like the fact you have dedicated time to some music from the region. But I think your theme tune does not sum up what is the essence of such a fascinating continent - why so slow and sad? We are a happy people who enjoy our meringue, salsa and cumbia! Spanish guitar is for Spain, not Latin America.
Sandra Paredes, Quito, Ecuador

Thank heavens for the BBC educating us: until tonight's programme I would have guessed that Chavez was just another footballer's girlfriend.
David Allen, London

Just been watching the interview Gavin Esler conducted with Peru's presidential candidate Ollanta Humala. Chess has never been my game, but when Gavin said "check" Humala's next move was a little odd...
Richard Jenkinson, London

What could have been an interesting debate about the changes taking place in Latin America was ruined by the blatant anti-Americanism of the Newsnight presenter in Peru. Despite my personal view of Bush's administration, I want balance from the BBC not Bush-whacking for the sake of it.
Robert Doyle, Southport

The extent to which Gavin Esler and Greg Palast gave uncritical audience to the actions of Hugo Chavez was cringeworthy
J Upton
Your programme tonight is first class and highlights the fact that both the USA and Europe have ignored S America for too many years. Perhaps you are unaware that we have closed embassies in several countries and we have less people on the ground than ever before. This vacuum is being filled by the Chinese who are everywhere and we have lost incalculable influence in the region. American involvement in Iraq has not helped matters and the continent is tired of their interference in their politics and finances. The fact that too much is owned by too few is a factor. These same individuals are transferring large sums of money out of the region to offshore tax havens and the investment in Florida, to name one beneficiary, is quite staggering. I have in fact just returned from there and have first hand knowledge of the situation.
Michael de Ruyter, St Albans

Your article on President Chavez of Venezuala proves how out of touch Americans and their foreign policy are with the rest of the world
Trevor Herrington
The extent to which Gavin Esler and Greg Palast gave uncritical audience to the actions of Hugo Chavez, who is systematically removing the levers of democratic control in his country, was cringeworthy. Instead of reporting the positive aspect of the continent's recent elections - how Latin American voters are freely selecting their own governments and enjoying the fruits of democracy, and seeing real results - it chose to whittle on about the Iraq war and bash George Bush with every question. As for this being the world's biggest unreported story - the Economist covered it weeks ago. Another case of the BBC not doing its homework? Perhaps Gavin Esler should stick to chess.
J Upton, London

I watched last night's (Mon 3rd) Latin America report with great interest. The report on Hugo Chavez was insightful, and I found the interviews engaging - however Otto Reich came across as a complete fool! Good on you, Gavin, for holding your own and showing him up!
Clare

Your article on President Chavez of Venezuala proves how out of touch Americans and their foreign policy are with the rest of the world. American politicians seem to think nothing of it when they appear on TV saying our special forces should take him out (Chavez). Oil is the driving factor of American foreign policy. So long as the USA secures oil for its own use the rest of the world can suffer. Will they be saying the same thing about China when the Chinese economy starts to affect America? Bush is leaving any future President a legacy of greater mistrust and hatred of America by much of South America and third world countries. Britain, sadly, will be labelled to a certain degree with the same tag because Tony Blair is seen as Bush's European Poodle.
Trevor Herrington, Ipswich

What a shame you started with such a weak set of reports in your Latin America specials. You provided no solid or insightful information at all and just gave us not very humourous little sketches. At its simplest, you're the media. Why didn't you tell the majority of your viewers who haven't been to a country like Venezuela, what Chavez talks about for six hours on Alo Presidente, or is six hours the only point? I forgot, he brings the desk with him. It's like The Sun would do it. How about he broadcasts his show over the top of all the other TV station signals, blocking them out? He says he does this because 95% of the media is owned by the opposition. How about that during the referendum the turnout was somewhere near 70%? What did we achieve here? The country is often referred to as a dictatorship. Why couldn't that be examined? There's so much there and you gave us so little.
Dominic Moore, London

I watched in disbelief last night's Newsnight special on Latin America. I think it was the least impartial piece of journalism I have ever seen. First of all you described this week's special coverage of Latin America as the world's most important unreported story as if the story about the continent moving to the left was a BBC exclusive. Every quality newspaper/TV channel in the world has been dedicating pages/time to the current political situation in Latin America for many months now. Secondly, if you really want to offer your viewers a serious insight on the region your reporters should at least show some respect for the people they are interviewing even when the person they are talking to is the eccentric Hugo Chavez. The comedy style of your report on Venezuela was pathetic. Also I don't see the point of inviting a representative of the US government to comment when you are not going to give the chance to say more than two sentences. I hope the rest of the week's special coverage is better than what I've seen so far.
Paula Garrido, London

The Newsnight programme from Lima on Monday was really very poor indeed. The interview with the ex State Department man touched on a very pertinent point-namely the US attitude of the Bush administration to democracy in Latin America but the rather hysterical interruptions from the Newsnight presenter meant that no light could be shed on this important topic. The interview with Chavez was wasted as your reporter (who at least had the good grace to admit that he has not been in Caracas for some time) allowed Chavez to make a fool of him and really nothing of substance was learnt as to what makes Chavez tick. It was entertaining television but one goes to Newsnight to learn something. I can only assume that you have the drains up on this to ensure that nothing as shoddy goes out from Newsnight again.
Roger Freeman, London

Your reporters should at least show some respect for the people they are interviewing
Paula Garrido
Despite being impressed with the depth and quality of last night's (Monday 3 April) coverage of the Peruvian elections and the accompanying survey of the region I was both surprised and disturbed at the apparent rudeness and brusqueness of manner demonstrated by Gavin Esler towards the interviewed American diplomat. It may well have been the case that much of said diplomat's comments were risible in their attempt to justify American policy in the region but this did not justify Esler's unprofessional manner. Esler, who is normally a hugely impressive (and impartial) reporter appeared to really have it in for this particular individual, cutting him off in mid sentence, not allowing him to respond to questions and appearing highly partial and highly anti-American. I am all in favour of robust, inquisitorial styles of interview but this was way over the top and reflected badly upon both Esler and the BBC.
Mark F Dillon, Nottingham

I am all in favour of robust, inquisitorial styles of interview but this was way over the top and reflected badly upon both Esler and the BBC.
Mark Dillon
Bravo! Bravissimo! For the lords of Newsnight and its broadcast last night, Monday, 3rd April, 2006. Gavin Esler's interviews of Peruvian politicians and public figures were fascinating and revelatory, as well as his difficult but deeply important interview of Otto Reich. Greg Palast's piece on Hugo Chavez was reporting at its finest - which is exactly what we must not only demand, but also expect from the blessed BBC.
Michael Carmichael, United Kingdom

What was the reason for Gavin Esler's excessive aggressiveness towards Otto Reich in last night's programme? I thought Otto made a fair point about every one of Gavin's questions to Ollanta Humala being in some way George Bush-centric. I would have been more interested just to hear the policies he was expounding, rather than what he thought of America.
Guy Morris, London




SEE ALSO:
Feedback - March 2006
30 Mar 06 |  Newsnight Home
Feedback - February 2006 (2)
01 Mar 06 |  Newsnight Home
Feedback - January 2006
01 Feb 06 |  Newsnight Home
Feedback - December 2005
04 Jan 06 |  Newsnight Home
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


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