Andy McSmith's Diary: Is Ian Katz right for Newsnight?

 

BBC’s Newsnight has been through seven turbulent months, taking in the Jimmy Savile and Lord McAlpine fiascos, and last night’s apology for a “misleading and unfair” item about the Help for Heroes charity. What the programme manifestly needs is an editor with good judgement. They have got Ian Katz, deputy editor of The Guardian.

His was the imaginative mind behind the great Guardian Clark County stunt, which came to him in a north London pub. In 2004, during the US Presidential contest between George Bush and John Kerry, The Guardian launched a project to “pair” readers with undecided voters in Clark County, Ohio, in the hope of persuading them not to vote for Bush. On day one, 4,000 people visited the Guardian website wanting to be paired; within days, there were 14,000. The publicity it generated was global. The outcome was not so good. In 2000, the Democrat, Al Gore, had narrowly won Clark County. In 2004, it swung to Bush.

Katz’s appointment set off some ill-informed Twitter commentary about left-wing bias at the BBC, but not all Guardian executives are left wing. The operative question is not Katz’s politics. How steady is his judgement?

Wharton’s private interests

James Wharton, the 29-year-old Tory MP from Stockton South who, by the luck of the draw, will have the honour of presenting a Bill in the Commons that would guarantee an in/out referendum, is a man of diverse interests. Three months after his election in 2010, the Newcastle Chronicle reported that he had written to a local quango urging them to speed-up a grant to a firm run by one of his friends, which sold giant penis statues. Time to update that children’s classic, James and the Giant Peach.

Councillor reveals Tyler scrape

Bonnie Tyler, the 61-year-old Welsh power-ballad star, who was very big in 1983, is the person chosen to bomb for Britain in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. This has evoked memories for Paul Braithwaite, a Liberal Democrat councillor in Camden, who worked for RCA records in his youth. In July 1976, he tells the Camden Journal, he was booked for speeding while driving Tyler home from a gig in Hereford at two in the morning.

He already had nine points on his licence, so hired a barrister and took the case to court to plead that using a car was vital to his work. By ill luck, the hearing clashed with the arrival from the US of a furious managing director of RCA, who had flown in to fire those responsible for signing up the Sex Pistols, including the future Councillor Braithwaite. This made him late for the hearing, but his barrister did such a good job that he was allowed to keep his licence anyway.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Bristol

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...

Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Administrator - Chinese Speaking

£17000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly growing company is...

Recruitment Genius: Start a Career as a Financial Markets Trader

£40000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Become a professional Trader a...

Recruitment Genius: Software Implementation Consultant

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This software company specialis...

Day In a Page

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks