The challenge of reporting Britain's role in Europe
The issues involved in British membership of the European Union represent a faultline that runs not just through UK politics but through British society. It is a topic that frequently enrages viewers, listeners and readers like few others.
You only have to look at the poll in today's Times, suggesting widespread support for the Prime Minister's action at last week's summit, to see the depth and power of Euro-scepticism across the country. Like any highly controversial subject, it is always challenging for an impartial news organisation to report without inflaming strong views on either side of the debate.
Trust must be at the heart of the BBC's relationship with its audiences and that is why we listen carefully to the range of feedback audiences give us. We've had some criticism of our coverage over the weekend claiming it was too "pro-European". I've watched, heard and read a great deal of what we did and without any sense of complacency, I think we reported events fairly and accurately and tried hard to capture a very wide range of views about last week's summit.
It is not our job to hail any summit on any subject as a "triumph" or a "disaster". Our role is simply to report and analyse events and their fall-out.
Nobody disputes that there was a big row in Brussels last week or that the Prime Minister's approach left him standing alone among European leaders - but there is considerable disagreement about whether or not that is a good thing and what it might mean politically and economically. Our job is to explain what happened and interrogate the different perspectives taken on Mr Cameron's stance so that our audiences can judge for themselves.
So on Friday and over the weekend we attempted to discover just what it was that the Prime Minister had vetoed, which safeguards he was seeking for the City of London, and what had changed for the UK and for Europe. We questioned a wide range of politicians and we picked up the unease among Liberal Democrats, which burst into the open with Nick Clegg's appearance on the Andrew Marr show on Sunday.
We've backed this up with analysis of the political and economic implications by our most trusted and respected editors: Nick Robinson, Gavin Hewitt, Robert Peston, Stephanie Flanders and a host of other correspondents.
Almost inevitably, this process leads to politicians having to field some uncomfortable questions from BBC interviewers. We don't do that because we have some hidden agenda but because the public expects us as an independent and impartial broadcaster to hold governments and opposition parties to account.
Over the weekend news programmes have featured in-depth interviews with George Osborne and William Hague for the Conservatives, Nick Clegg for the Liberal Democrats, a range of Euro-sceptic voices and some highly critical Labour politicians. All have different views, all have been allowed to express them - and rightly so.
It is the nature of contentious subjects - Europe, climate change, the Middle East - that they polarise opinion. Among those who feel strongly about them, BBC News is often accused of "taking sides". We must always be open to criticism of course - we don't get everything right. But criticism, however ferocious, should never deter us from focussing on the basics: telling the story accurately and fairly, testing it against a wide range of opinions and challenging all those opinions with rigour.
It's not an approach that makes us popular with everyone of course, but it may explain why audiences have remained so loyal to BBC News output over many decades.
Helen Boaden is the BBC Director of News