Is news funny?
One of the programmes I edit, Broadcasting House, really irritates some listeners. There is a small but vocal section of Radio Four devotees who just do not accept the fundamental proposition - that you can have fun as well as do serious news on the same programme.
Thankfully the show's healthy audience figures convince me that such views are a minority. So recently Mark Doyle has exposed child labour in the mines of the Democratic Republic of Congo (listen here), but at the same time we've made a theatrical arrest (listen here).
Getting the balance and tone right is hard. In fact it is one of the hardest things we do. It regularly dominates our editorial discussions and we get it wrong sometimes. In fact, if you want to see the blood drain from any reporter's face you do not need to send them off to doorstep the relatives of the victim of some terrible tragedy. As they leave the building on a story just say "have some fun with it!" and watch them wilt.
It may be hard but I believe passionately we must continue to do it. Radio Four is often criticised for being too stuffy, too aloof and too elitist. Humour is a crucial weapon in countering such perceptions.