Newsnight editor Ian Katz: Jeremy Paxman-style political interviews are old hat

New host Evan Davis has a less hostile approach to interviewing

The editor of Newsnight has sought to make a blessing out of the departure of the show’s star presenter Jeremy Paxman by claiming that his aggressive style of interviewing had become outdated.

“The broadcast political interview is stuck,” said Ian Katz in an article for the Financial Times which cited Paxman’s interrogation of Labour MP Rachel Reeves as a “sterile, deadening” example of the genre.

“A large proportion of political interviews – maybe even most – are boring snoring,” he said, using an expression he had inadvertently made public on Twitter in the wake of the Paxman-Reeves exchange last year.

While the Newsnight editor praised Paxman’s “unique talent” for turning a formal political interview into a “theatrical – occasionally career-ending – skirmish”, he warned that “the predominance of an aggressive style characterised by the dictum ‘why is this lying bastard lying to me?’ – and the survival strategies that politicians have developed in response to it – have locked both sides into what economists call a ‘tragedy of the commons’.”

A “Mexican stand-off” had been reached, he argued.

Paving the way for the new Newsnight host, Evan Davis, who has a less hostile approach to interviewing, Mr Katz called for the media and politicians to work together to produce “more illuminating” interviews.

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