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Editor's note - we're trying something new. We're going to publish one item from Radio 4's weekly accountability programme Feedback here on the blog. We're keen to know what you think of this new way of spreading the Feedback word: leave your reactions and questions in a comment below - SB

When I first met Ceri Thomas, the Editor of Radio 4's Today after his appointment to the job four years ago, he had a young unlined face.

I wouldn't say he now looks like an old man, e.g. me, but the lines on his face have multiplied I reckon and cut deeper and I think I spy a bit of baggage under his eyes.

That's not surprising given his punishing weekly schedule.

Up before 6am to listen to the programme go out, then into the office for a day's work that ends around midnight when he has read the first editions of the next morning's papers and discusses them with his night editor.

And in between quite a few calls from party politicians and spin doctors trying to influence the agenda, and doubtless the odd visit from a presenter wanting to know whether or not she, or more usually he, will get any of the big party leader interviews to do.

It can only get worse for him in the next few weeks as the general election, which looks like being the closest in almost 20 years, draws closer.

I do hope Ceri Thomas gets an afternoon nap.

He didn't get one on Wednesday when he came into the Feedback studio to answer criticisms from three listeners who consider themselves to be candid friends of his programme.

Kate Francis has listened to Today since Jack de Manio presented it and she was at university. Kate thinks the interviewing styles of Today's presenters are too aggressive and thinks there aren't enough women presenters and reporters on the programme.

Andy McIntyre-Pell thinks some items are too short and would like to see political interviews run longer. He doesn't want to hear any more so-called light items.

Peter Hodder joined our discussion down the line from a Birmingham studio. He thinks the Today programme is sometimes politically biased. I asked him for evidence of this:

Roger Bolton presents Feedback on BBC Radio 4

  • Feedback listeners Peter Hodder, Kate Francis and Andy McIntyre-Pell are on this week's Feedback with the editor of the Today programme Ceri Thomas. Listen to the whole programme on the Radio 4 web site.
  • Feedback will be recording more listener panels in the future and if you would like to take part we'll give details here and on the programme in the next few weeks. You can also find out how to join our listener panel on the Feedback web page.
  • The picture shows Sarah Montague and James Naughtie presenting Today. It's from the BBC's picture library.

Comments

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  • Comment number 29. Posted by TV Licence fee payer against BBC censorship

    on 6 Apr 2010 10:15

    In case it gets missed, on this fast moving day of political events, Ceri Thomas has penned a follow up on The Editors Blog.

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  • Comment number 28. Posted by Maggie in Marske

    on 6 Apr 2010 10:13

    I seem to remember when the Today programme would pick up on bits from other parts of the BBC and comment on them. Sat 27/3/10 Week in Westminster, at 25:00 into the programme Sir Peter Tapsell made an extremely sexist remark in that when asked what he was looking forward to in the new parliament said something on the lines of "Oh new pretty girls on the Tory benches" when pushed by the presenter, he admitted that further he was looking forward to drinking in the bar with some old friends. I do hope the people in his constituency were listening, and that for those reasons alone, he should not be returned to parliament, as I for one do not consider him to be an "Honorable Member". Moreover, I am sad to think I was the only person who took umbridge at these crass statements from a senior member.

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  • Comment number 27. Posted by Bartlebooth

    on 4 Apr 2010 20:29

    This comment was removed because it broke the house rules. Explain

  • Comment number 26. Posted by tarmac123

    on 3 Apr 2010 11:55

    This comment was removed because it broke the house rules. Explain

  • Comment number 25. Posted by Patrick Too

    on 2 Apr 2010 13:30

    Today is nothing like it was - and what another ridiculous interview on Feedback! Yet another BBC bod taking no notice whatsoever of the Feedback given and telling everyone "I'm right - You're wrong". It's not just Today that needs more aggression - It's Feedback. They're all as wet as a sponge in an Elephant enclosure.

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  • Comment number 24. Posted by lindabrixton

    on 2 Apr 2010 08:50

    This comment was removed because it broke the house rules. Explain

  • Comment number 23. Posted by TV Licence fee payer against BBC censorship

    on 1 Apr 2010 09:53

    #21. At 11:57am on 31 Mar 2010, Peter Lambert wrote:

    "I would respectfully ask you not to bend to these requests to soften the style of the Today Programme."

    I don't think anyone has been suggesting that the style be softened, just that the interviewers should not be 'abrasive', for example interrupting when they (the interviewer) consider that we are not getting the answer they (the interviewer) expected/wanted.

    Just to digress away from current day styles, and the "Today" programme particularly, there was a programme on BBC4 the other night about the history of TV elections in the UK (How to Win an Election: A Panorama Guide), much footage was shown of both Richard Dimbleby and Sir Robin Day interviewing styles, it was notable at how forcefully they both put questions and contested the answers received without resorting to shouting down or rudeness towards the interviewee - as is the current style, or so it comes over...

    This issue really comes back to a point I made in comment #3, the number of items within the programme (section), the BBC really does have to decide if they want quality or quantity, the "Today" programme be a morning broadsheet or a tabloid - unfortunately, in the race for irrelevant ratings figures, I fear that the BBC has chosen the latter, I suspect that many of the interruptions and 'abrasive style' don't come about due to a gratuitous wish on the part of the interviewer but because s/he is always chasing the clock!

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  • Comment number 22. Posted by hick

    on 1 Apr 2010 07:59

    Following the interviews with Liam Byrne and Cameron about the advertisement taken out by the 'Business'leaders in the papers today to promote their opposition to an increase in National Insurance, I really wish the interviewers would describe this group of people for what they really are, Shareholder Representatives, and therefore obviously opposed to any extra contributions to the social purse, rather than their own pockets.

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  • Comment number 21. Posted by Peter Lambert

    on 31 Mar 2010 10:57

    I would respectfully ask you not to bend to these requests to soften the style of the Today Programme. I know you must feel a considerable amount of pressure to do so - from those who would like to have their press releases read out without question, interpritation & challenge - but this would mean the Today Programme is no longer the benchmark for news journalism (world-wide) and will cease to be the programme all the politicians listen to daily.

    You only need to watch Sky News to see how irrelivant you will become if you are forced to make ediotorial changes to please external forces.

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  • Comment number 20. Posted by Steve Bowbrick

    on 30 Mar 2010 23:11

    Thanks for many useful points. On language and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict you'll find a number of useful posts on The Editors blog, like this one by Paul Brannan and this one by Jon Williams, detailing the difficulty and complexity of covering conflict. And here's an interesting page from the Newswatch web site (from 2006, predating the creation of the Trust), detailing the suggested use of several key terms from the conflict, including 'terrorist' and 'assassinations'.

    Steve Bowbrick, editor, Radio 4 blog

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