The BBC's sober-suited Huw Edwards is aiming for a younger audience
Why one of the Beeb's leading newsreaders is spending a week on 'Newsround'. By Sophie Morris
Monday 10 October 2005
The status of the newsreader has been questioned in recent months, notably by Edwards's BBC colleague Andrew Marr, who said that news presenters were paid too much for reading an autocue. The Today programme's chief interrogator, John Humphrys, chipped in that the role required "no brain".
Edwards, naturally enough, does not accept that his job is easy. He spent 15 years as a BBC journalist before becoming a presenter, and now he wants a new generation to know what's involved in his job. So, every day this week he'll be racing around with an eager teenager putting together packages for Newsround, CBBC's youth news broadcast. The Welshman says that he has been surprised to find that even Newsround's young audience take the view that reading the news is a role that can be easily mastered. "I had a gang of schoolkids in here the other day saying, "How long did you spend before you became a presenter on the news?" When I said "18 years", I thought they were going to faint."
Edwards describes his guest presenting role on Newsround as being "quite an involved week" and he's cleared the decks of everything else apart from "the Ten" to give it his full attention. He is keen to fulfil his role in the project despite having spent half of last week cooped up in hospital having a knee operation - the result of an accident while playing football with one of his five children.
Edwards says: "There's enormous interest out there in the way news is done. I get hundreds of e-mails and letters every year from kids."
His Newsround cameo is motivated by the opportunity to share the reporting techniques he picked up over his long career as a political correspondent, but you have to think that he is savvy enough to realise that the programme's audience will soon be graduating to later bulletins. He has filmed a cut-down Ten O'Clock News to introduce himself, and wanted to turn up in his usual dark suit and tie, but has been persuaded to dress a little less formally.
He says that visiting schools, doing writing workshops, and giving talks on media and communications have developed into his "biggest sideline", and that it isn't unusual to find a class of 40 pupils in which every single one has aspirations of working in the media. "They think it's well-paid and glamorous. I say you've got to be quite realistic, and patient."
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