Newsnight

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For the CNN programme, see NewsNight with Aaron Brown.
Newsnight
BBC Newsnight.png
Genre News and current affairs
Created by BBC News
Presented by Kirsty Wark
Emily Maitlis
Laura Kuenssberg
Evan Davis
Theme music composer George Fenton
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
Production
Producer(s) BBC News
Editor(s) Ian Katz
Location(s) Studio B, Broadcasting House, London
Running time 50 minutes
Broadcast
Original channel BBC Two
BBC HD (2012–13)
Picture format 576i (16:9 SDTV)
1080i (HDTV)
Original run 30 January 1980 – present
Chronology
Related shows Newsnight Scotland
The Review Show
External links
Website

Newsnight is a weekday BBC Television current affairs programme which specialises in analysis and often robust cross-examination of senior politicians. Jeremy Paxman was its main presenter for 25 years, until announcing in April 2014 that he was stepping down.[1]

Several of the programme's editors over the years have gone on to senior positions within the BBC and elsewhere. The programme's regular presenters are currently Kirsty Wark,[2] Emily Maitlis,[3] Laura Kuenssberg[4] and Evan Davis (from Autumn 2014).[5]

Newsnight has been broadcast on BBC Two since 1980. It goes out on weekday evenings between 10:30pm and 11:20pm. Occasionally it may have an extended edition if there is an especially significant event in the news - as happened on 7 July 2011, when closure of the News of the World led to an extended programme which continued until 11:35 pm. Recent editions are available to view and download for a limited time through the BBC iPlayer.[6] A weekly 26-minute digest edition of Newsnight is screened on the corporation's international channel, BBC World News.

History[edit]

The original 1980 opening titles

Newsnight began on 30 January 1980, although a short news bulletin using the same title had run on BBC2 during the 1970s. Its launch was delayed for four months by the Association of Broadcasting Staff, at the time the main BBC trade union.[7] Newsnight was the first programme to be made by means of a direct collaboration between BBC News, then at Television Centre, and the current affairs department, based a short distance away at the Lime Grove Studios. Staff feared job cuts.

Former presenters include Peter Snow, a regular for 17 years, Donald MacCormick, Charles Wheeler, Adam Raphael and John Tusa, later boss of the BBC World Service. In the early days each edition had an 'auxiliary presenter', a phenomenon pejoratively known at the time as the "Newsnight's wife syndrome".[7] Usually a woman, It was her job to read the news headlines and to introduce minor items. Olivia O'Leary in 1985 became the first principal female presenter; the programme has had a single presenter since 1987.[8] Newsnight is now wholly managed by BBC News.[8]

Until 1988, the start time of Newsnight was flexible, so BBC2 could screen a movie at 9:30pm to dovetail with the conclusion of the main news on BBC1. The fixed time slot of 10:30pm was established in the face of fierce objections from the then managing director of BBC TV, Bill Cotton, otherwise in charge of all scheduling decisions. The very announcement was made without his even being informed. The affair sparked a widely reported row within the corporation. One protagonist said it would "destroy the BBC".[9] Newsnight moved to new facilities at Broadcasting House on 15 October 2012.

Between 1999 and 2014 on BBC Two Scotland the offshoot, Newsnight Scotland, presented by Gordon Brewer, replaced the final twenty minutes of the UK programme from Monday to Friday. From May 2014, Newsnight is again shown in full in Scotland, but delayed by half an hour to accommodate Newsnight Scotland's replacement, Scotland 2014.

Newsnight's signature tune was composed by George Fenton. Various arrangements have been used over the years.

On 30 April 2014, main presenter Jeremy Paxman announced that he will be leaving his role on Newsnight later in the year. In July 2014 Evan Davis was announced as Paxman's replacement.

Interviews[edit]

On 13 May 1997 Paxman pressed Michael Howard, former Home Secretary, about a meeting with Derek Lewis, head of the Prison Service, about the possible dismissal of the governor of Parkhurst Prison. Faced with what he considered evasive answers, Paxman put the same question– "Did you threaten to overrule him?" (i.e. Lewis)– twelve times in succession.[10]

This has become the programme's best known interview. Later, during a twentieth anniversary edition of Newsnight, Paxman told Howard that he'd simply been trying desperately to string out the interview because the next item in the running order had failed to materialize.[11] In 2004 Paxman raised the subject again with Howard, by then leader of the Conservative Party. This time, Howard laughed it off, saying that he had not threatened to overrule the head of the Prison Service.[citation needed] During Paxman's final show on June 18, 2014, Howard briefly appeared in the studio once more, with Paxman simply asking "Did you?", to which Howard replied "No Jeremy, I didn't, but feel free to ask another 11 times." [12]

Accusations of bias[edit]

In April 2001 the BBC's governors ruled that Newsnight's coverage of Peter Mandelson's resignation over the Hinduja affair had been politically biased. The governors criticised the programme for only featuring Labour Party supporters on the panel discussing the issue, and no opposition politicians appeared at any stage of the 45-minute episode. The broadcast attracted an outcry in the media with one critic describing it as a whitewash worthy of a "one-party state".[13][14][15]

Coverage of sexual abuse scandals[edit]

In the weeks after the ITV documentary Exposure: The Other Side of Jimmy Savile was broadcast on 3 October 2012, allegations were made that a Newsnight investigation into Savile by reporter Liz MacKean and producer Meirion Jones in December 2011 had been dropped shortly before transmission because it conflicted with tribute programmes prepared after Savile's death. The BBC appointed Nick Pollard, a former Sky News executive, to examine why the investigation was dropped.[16] On 23 October, the Director-General of the BBC, George Entwistle, appeared before the Parliamentary Culture, Media and Sport Committee, and stated that it had been a "catastrophic mistake" to cancel the Newsnight broadcast.[17]

Newsnight broadcast on 2 November 2012 a report falsely accusing (but not naming) a prominent Conservative, Lord McAlpine of child abuse. The veracity of this story collapsed after The Guardian reported a case of mistaken identity on 8 November[18] and the victim retracted the allegation after belatedly being shown a photograph of McAlpine in an item broadcast on the following day. The production team had not contacted McAlpine about the allegations.[19] An apology about the story was made on 9 November during that evening's broadcast of the programme.[20] In an official statement, the BBC announced all ongoing Newsnight investigations were being suspended.[21] The Director of BBC Scotland, Ken MacQuarrie, investigated the circumstances around the programme. His findings were published on 12 November, and stated that:[22]

"The editorial leadership of the team was under very considerable pressure....[T]here was ambiguity around who was taking the ultimate editorial responsibility for the Newsnight report, particularly in the days leading up to the day of transmission.... During the editorial decision-making process, some of the basic journalistic checks were not completed.... There was a different understanding by the key parties about where the responsibility lay for the final editorial sign off for the story on the day."

The BBC announced that Karen O'Connor would take on the role of Acting Editor of Newsnight.[22]

The Pollard report was published on 19 December 2012. It concluded that the decision to drop the original Newsnight report on the allegations against Savile in December 2011 was "flawed", but that it had not been done to protect the Savile tribute programmes. However, it criticised George Entwistle for apparently failing to read emails warning him of Savile's "dark side",[23] and that, after the allegations against Savile eventually became public, the BBC fell into a "level of chaos and confusion [that] was even greater than was apparent at the time".[24] The BBC announced that Newsnight editor Peter Rippon and deputy editor Liz Gibbons would be replaced.[24]

Newsnight Review[edit]

From 2000 until December 2009, on Friday evenings Newsnight gave way at 11:00pm to Newsnight Review, a 35-minute consumer survey of the week's artistic and cultural highlights. Mark Lawson was the programme's main presenter in its Late Review incarnation, which began life as a strand of The Late Show. He continued to chair the panel of guest reviewers when it reincarnated as Newsnight Review in 2000, up until December 2005. The programme has been presented by Kirsty Wark, Martha Kearney, John Wilson, Tim Marlow, Kwame Kwei-Armah and Hardeep Singh Kohli. Regular reviewers have included Mark Kermode, Tom Paulin, Ekow Eshun and Germaine Greer.

As part of the BBC's commitment to moving programmes out of London, Newsnight Review finished on 18 December 2009 with a special hour-long edition. The programme has been replaced by The Review Show, produced from Glasgow, which started on 22 January 2010.[25][26] It has the same producer as Newsnight Review and is still presented by Kirsty Wark and Martha Kearney.

Frivolity[edit]

Traditionally, there is a short stock market update at the end of each edition. In 2005, Newsnight's then editor, Peter Barron, replaced it with a 30-second weather report, arguing that the market data was available on the internet and that a weather report would be more useful. The change provoked a flurry of complaints.

Paxman on one occasion adopted a sarcastic tone and announced: "So finally and controversially, tomorrow's weather forecast. It's a veritable smorgasbord. Sun, rain, thunder, hail, snow, cold, wind. Almost worth going to work." On other occasions: "It's April, what do you expect?" and, "Take an umbrella with you tomorrow." He claimed, nonetheless, that he was happy presenting the weather. Gavin Esler also joined in, announcing: "As for the spring, you can forget about that until further notice."[27] The programme conducted a telephone poll. Michael Fish, a former weather forecaster, was seen arguing in favour of the weather report, while Norman Lamont, a former Chancellor of the Exchequer, argued for the market update. 62% of viewers voted in favour of the markets, and the update duly returned on Monday 18 April 2005.

Other stunts include: for a week at the end of January 2006, Newsnight played over its closing credits the so-called Radio 4 UK Theme which was facing the axe; the 24 April 2006 edition played out to the signature tune of the soon-to-be-axed BBC sports programme, Grandstand.

Between January and June 2006 the programme included Gordaq, a spoof Stock Exchange index measuring the political performance of Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown. The index started at 100 and moved up or down depending on Brown's political situation, finishing at 101 on 30 June 2006.

International edition and other media[edit]

Newsnight is available within the UK via broadband on BBC iPlayer for up to seven days after broadcast. It can be found on the Newsnight website[28] or via a search for "Newsnight" on the BBC iPlayer.[29] A weekly digest version of Newsnight is screened on the corporation's international news channel, BBC World News but focuses on international stories.

BBC America axed its US version of Newsnight as part of a series of changes that included dropping its daily three-hour block of international news.

KCET, an independent public television station in Los Angeles, broadcasts Newsnight (international version, a weekly round-up) [30] and presents it on USA-based public television stations.[31][32]

Current presenters[edit]

Years Presenter Current role
October 1993–present Kirsty Wark Main presenter (alternate)
March 2006–present Emily Maitlis
February 2014–present Laura Kuenssberg
from Autumn 2014 Evan Davis

The programme is occasionally presented by broadcasters from other BBC programmes. Recent examples include Victoria Derbyshire, Anita Anand, Lyse Doucet, Andrew Neil, Eddie Mair, Robert Peston and Mishal Husain.

Correspondents and Editors[edit]

Correspondent Role
Laura Kuenssberg Chief Correspondent
Chris Cook Policy Editor
Allegra Stratton Political Editor
Peter Marshall Foreign Editor
Mark Urban Diplomatic and Defence Editor
David Grossman Culture and Technology Editor
Katie Razzall Special Correspondent (Social, religion, legal affairs and disability issues Editor)
Duncan Weldon Business and Economics Correspondent
Nick Hopkins Investigative Editor

They also use well-known reporters from across the BBC News network; such as Chief International Correspondent Lyse Doucet, Chief Business Correspondent Linda Yueh and Yalda Hakim.

Past presenters and reporters[edit]

Newsnight editors[edit]

Newsnight film producers[edit]

  • Warwick Harrington
  • Maria Polachowska
  • Nicholas Blakemore
  • Nick Menzies
  • Sarah Teasdale
  • Ian Lacey

References[edit]

  1. ^ Newsnight - Jeremy Paxman BBC News, 20 February 2014
  2. ^ Newsnight - Kirsty Wark BBC News, 20 February 2014
  3. ^ Newsnight - Emily Maitlis BBC News, 20 February 2014
  4. ^ Newsnight - Laura Kuessnberg BBC News, 20 February 2014
  5. ^ BBC’s Evan Davis to join Newsnight following Jeremy Paxman’s departure Media Guardian, 21 July 2014
  6. ^ "Newsnight". BBC. Retrieved 29 March 2013. 
  7. ^ a b Andrew Billen "Flagship sails on", New Statesman, 7 February 2000
  8. ^ a b "A history of Newsnight", BBC News, 28 May 2009
  9. ^ Chris Horrie and Steve Clarke 'Fuzzy Monsters: Fear and Loathing at the BBC' (1994)
  10. ^ Horrocks, Peter (21 January 2005). "Paxman versus Howard". BBC News. 
  11. ^ Paxman's explanation was that "by the time I'd asked the question five or six times... it was clear... that you [Howard] weren't going to answer it... at which point a voice came in my ear and said "The next piece of tape isn't cut, you'd better carry on with this for a while" and I'm afraid I couldn't think of anything else to ask you."
  12. ^ Jeremy Paxman hosts his final Newsnight, BBC News, 18 June 2014
  13. ^ Born, Matt (25 April 2001). "BBC admits Labour bias on Newsnight broadcast". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  14. ^ Glover, Stephen (6 May 2010). "For days the BBC has been banging the drum for the Lib Dems. But then we should never underestimate their hatred of the Tories". Daily Mail (London). 
  15. ^ BBC guilty of bias over Mandelson. - Daily Mail (London) | HighBeam Research
  16. ^ Mason, Rowena (16 October 2012). "BBC's Jimmy Savile probe to be led by Harold Shipman inquiry judge". The Daily Telegraph (London: Telegraph Media Group). Retrieved 16 October 2012. 
  17. ^ Prince, Rosa (23 October 2012). "Jimmy Savile: George Entwistle heckled by BBC reporters after brutal grilling from MPs". London: The Telegraph. Retrieved 23 October 2012. 
  18. ^ David Leigh, et al "'Mistaken identity' led to top Tory abuse claim", The Guardian, 8 November 2012
  19. ^ "BBC apologises for Newsnight child abuse report". BBC News. 10 November 2012. 
  20. ^ Dan Sabbagh, et al "BBC in turmoil as Newsnight's Tory abuse story falls apart", The Guardian, 9 November 2012
  21. ^ "Apology in response to Steve Messham's statement", BBC Media Centre, 9 November 2012
  22. ^ a b BBC News, Ken MacQuarrie report: Summary of findings, 12 November 2012. Retrieved 15 November 2012
  23. ^ Halliday, Josh (19 December 2012). "Pollard report: George Entwistle 'did not read emails' about Jimmy Savile". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 19 December 2012. 
  24. ^ a b Sabbagh, Dan; Plunkett, John (19 December 2012). "Pollard inquiry: BBC 'incapable' of dealing with Jimmy Savile affair". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 19 December 2012. 
  25. ^ "A decade of Newsnight Review". Newsnight Review (BBC News). 18 January 2010. Retrieved 22 January 2010. 
  26. ^ "Friday 18 December: The year in Review". Newsnight Review (BBC News). 17 December 2009. Retrieved 22 January 2010. 
  27. ^ Barron, Peter (11 April 2005). "Weather or markets? You decide". BBC News. Retrieved 7 April 2010. 
  28. ^ "''Newsnight''". BBC News. 29 January 2010. Retrieved 1 May 2010. 
  29. ^ "BBC iPlayer". BBC. 27 July 2008. Retrieved 1 May 2010. 
  30. ^ BBC Newsnight KCET - Infinitely more
  31. ^ BBC Newsnight klru - Ispring Austin
  32. ^ BBC Newsnight Vermont Public Television

Footnotes[edit]

External links[edit]