Letter: Decline of gun rule

Sir: A Texan nurse "packing heat" made for a colourful background to Gavin Esler's assertion that "most Americans ... believe that guns are goods as unquestionable as motherhood and apple pie" (Comment, 17 September). But the truth is that the majority of adults in the USA do not own a gun, and ownership of guns has declined in recent years. What is more, young Americans are less likely than their elders to own a gun. There is more cause for optimism than Mr Esler would have us suppose.

Paxman savages BBC over changes to news

JEREMY PAXMAN launched a stinging attack on the BBC's governors yesterday for drastic changes planned for Newsnight and the Six O'Clock News.

Letter: Lesson for lords

Sir: At our peril we ignore the implications of shabby leaders in the USA mentioned by Gavin Esler ("Cruise missiles won't stop the dangers facing US democracy", 19 December). Their President, their Congress and their Senate, now involved in an unseemly constitutional wrangle, are elected. They are also open to a freedom of information culture in their prurient press. Those in the UK who want an entirely elected House of Lords should reflect on that.

Radio chiefs attack 'Newsnight' bias

THE RADIO Authority returned fire on the BBC yesterday accusing its flagship news programme, Newsnight, of "biased, unbalanced and seriously inaccurate" reporting.

Media: BBC beware: Scotland is set to go it alone

Can Auntie remain calm and neutral about the break-up of Britain?

BBC 24-Hour News Service: News makers

The players: BBC News 24 is aiming to break the domestic stranglehold on rolling news currently held by Sky. Their other main global competitor is CNN.

Culture: On the air: TV news most of us can't watch

The BBC last night broke Sky's monopoly in round-the-clock TV news when it launched News 24. Rob Brown, Media Editor, went to Television Centre to see the start of a service few licence-payers were able to share.

I felt like a sheep being herded by irritable sheepdogs

PASSPORT; GAVIN ESLER

BBC reorganises news operation

The BBC has announced a radical shake-up of its news organisation which will mean that many radio and television news programmes will be made by the same production teams.

Letter: BBC evolution

Sir: Let me set readers' minds at rest following Rob Brown's piece about the future of Newsnight (11 August). There is no plan to make the programme "kinder" or "softer" as he alleges. This is not to say that Newsnight will not evolve. All programmes do over time. But it is a mistake to equate a broader agenda with a softer agenda. Newsnight will maintain its commitment to rigorous analytical journalism, whether achieved through crafted tape packages or searching studio interviews.

The Lite show

When Jeremy Paxman returns to `Newsnight' next month, there'll be a kinder, softer Paxo in the interviewer's chair. The BBC will call this a necessary reinvention. Others will see in it a timid response to the suffocating power of Mandelson and Campbell. By Rob Brown

Snow swings out of 'Newsnight'

Peter Snow, the BBC journalist famed for his swingometer, presented his last Newsnight yesterday. He has worked on the programme for 18 years but will now front Tomorrow's World when Howard Stableford leaves in the autumn.

Election : '97: British bulldog plays patriotic card for Labour

The Labour will use a three-year-old bulldog called Fitz to play the patriotic card in the party's second election broadcast tonight.

Is anybody out there listening?: The airwaves will hum this week with the sound of politicians sliding up and down the greasy pole. But who calls the media tune - MPs and spin doctors, or producers and presenters? James Cusick reports

A telephone rings in the office of a member of the Shadow Cabinet. It's Newsnight. There's an almost oh-Christ-it's-them sigh. But there is no background Twilight Zone music, predicting impending doom for another victim offered before the altar of Jeremy Paxman. Newsnight, the BBC's late-night news heavyweight, is not worshipped in the new era of broadcast politics. And neither is anything else.

Show People: The discreet charm of the late-night inquisitor: Kirsty Wark

IT'S 10.45pm, Friday 4 February, and Michael Portillo is having a hard time. He's trying to explain the 'off-the-cuff' remarks he made that day about foreign business ethics. But the television presenter is having none of it. 'A slip of the tongue,' explains Portillo. 'But why did you say it?' asks the presenter firmly. More explanation. More questioning. It could happen to anyone, he says. 'A Cabinet minister]' exclaims the presenter, jabbing the air with her finger. The interview ends in stalemate, but Portillo will remember his encounter with Kirsty Wark, Newsnight's newest presenter.
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