Nicholson attacks ITN for showbiz approach

THE ITN reporter and former newsreader Michael Nicholson, who gained international fame when he adopted a Bosnian child during the Balkans conflict, has made an outspoken attack on the quality of television journalism. BBC News is "boring and trivial", he says. ITN is "in debt" and is not covering all the stories.

In a frank interview to be published in the Radio Times tomorrow, Mr Nicholson, who has been with ITN for 36 years, blames ITV's director of programmes, David Liddiment, for not answering criticisms of the new current affairs programme Tonight - with Trevor McDonald, and laments the ending of News at Ten. He gives Sir Trevor only measured praise, saying: "He is unflappable, but can't do interviews."

Mr Nicholson is now working with Sir Trevor on Tonight. He says of the programme, which has been a flop in the ratings: "Tonight is not doing terribly well and we're all under fire, so I have to be careful what I say... All the mud rubs off on us, and I wish either the editor or people like David Liddiment would answer the criticisms." However, he adds: "I don't think everything is lost. It will settle down."

But on the general attitude to television news, he is more pessimistic. "News at Ten having its head chopped off without any plea of mitigation was quite traumatic for many of us... It was a defeat, and a lot of the heart went out of ITN. It's not a bad atmosphere and the new people are probably very excited because it's a different approach - showbiz, packaging, gizmos and things. But it's no longer the kind of journalism I grew up in, which was to forget the tinsel and get to the nitty gritty."

Mr Nicholson also defends reporters showing emotion when covering war. In 1992 he brought home Tasha, nine, from Sarajevo and he and his wife adopted her. "I was accused of breaking the rules," he says, "committing myself, being more important than the story, and all that crap. I don't need advice on how to behave as a human being or a journalist. If more reporters showed emotion, TV news wouldn't be losing so many viewers."

Mr Nicholson admits his own newsreading career ended when he made a dreadful slip. He announced Prince Andrew's engagement to Sarah Ferguson, and called him on air a "yucky" instead of "lucky" young man.

He concludes by saying he is deeply pessimistic that "every aspect of media is moving towards trivialising, showbizzing and infotainment... Lots of stories happen, but if no one's there to report them, they haven't `happened'... I'm pleased to be coming to the end of my career, rather than starting."

t A talent spotter starts work at the BBC today. Rob Warr is the first controller of talent management, to "find and nurture talent". The corporation has been hit recently by a series of high-profile departures, including Noel Edmonds, Des Lynam and Barry Norman.

Christopher Matthew, Review, page 4

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Account Payable Assistant - SW London

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Account Payable Assistant - SW Londo...

Recruitment Genius: Bathroom Showroom Customer Service / Sales Assistant

£14560 - £17680 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Even though their premises have...

Recruitment Genius: Finance Manager

£44000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Marketing company based in cent...

Recruitment Genius: IT Installation / Commissioning Engineer - North West

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An IT Installation / Commission...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence