Don't let this feeding frenzy kill off Newsnight

We've forgotten the real story - and Newsnight's redeeming qualities

Share
Related Topics

The feeding frenzy engulfing Newsnight is making me angry. Steve Hewlett is as good a media commentator as they get but what was it he said about the programme, on the programme, on Friday, when it submitted itself to such an extraordinary act of self-flagellation? That it’s “stock in trade is discussion of topical issues… It has always had a tradition of doing film pieces but most of them are not investigations.” What a terribly gross under-estimation of what the programme does.

 Its discussions can certainly be as good as they get – Steve Coogan ripping into the News of the World’s Paul McMullan, unmissable in June, dumped onto the past history pile now  - was one of the high tide marks of the hacking story. But I tell you that when you’re out there in some place, reporting on a news story when Newsnight is also about, then there’s an additional inbuilt pressure - because they reach parts that many others don’t. No investigations? What about Peter Taylor on waterboarding? And Paul Mason on the scandal of Britain’s need for food banks was one of the most compelling recent portraits of austerity Britain. Who told us that the RAF may be paying billions too much for new air-to-air refuelling aircraft?

Eddie Mair has received  paeans of praise for his handling of the programme on Friday night but I’ll beg to differ on that one. Let’s have some neutrality and humility, by all means, but the way that the programme’s new host took it apart seemed to be hovering somewhere between schadenfreude and mockery. “Is Newsnight toast?” he asked. And as the sound to the Reading East MP Rob Wilson failed: “Oh great, now even the sound isn’t working… the journalism isn’t working….” You wonder how brilliant operators like Liz MacKean, Peter Marshall, Mark Urban and some of best news presenters – Emily Maitlis and Kirsty Wark as well as Paxman – felt about this ritual annihilation from the man who has only just taken their chair.

As things stand, there have been a few apologies from those whose little smart interventions in that often vicious cesspit called Twitter compounded things by turning the programme’s bad journalism into a direct falsehood. (“Why is Lord McAlpine trending? *innocent face*.”, said Sally Bercow). But with the exception of yesterday’s Independent on Sunday there has been precious little evidence that anyone believes that back story to all of this is the North Wales children who have died, rather than the Director General who resigned. Yes, all the hallmarks of a feeding frenzy for sure.

Who believes that we can’t trust the BBC? No-one. So don’t let the frenzy kill off this programme. Watching it constitutes the final act of the day for those who are looking for a better appreciation of the world out there, rather than anything definable in 140 miserable characters.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Year 5 Teacher

£80 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Year 5 Teacher KS2 teaching job...

Software Developer

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum Pensions Scheme After 6 Months: Clearwater People So...

Systems Analyst / Business Analyst - Central London

£35000 - £37000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Busines...

Senior Change Engineer (Network, Cisco, Juniper) £30k

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Senior Change ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron has painted a scary picture of what life would be like under a Labour government  

You want constitutional change? Fixed-term parliaments have already done the job

Steve Richards
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song  

Ukip Calypso by Mike Read? The horror! The horror!

Patrick Strudwick
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past