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Too many questions?

Mark Mardell | 05:05 UK time, Monday, 16 November 2009

Too many questions, not enough answers, might be a complaint levelled at many pundits, columnists and bloggers. Indeed, David Cunard complained last week that I often end this blog with a question. He asks if I want you to do my work for me. In a word: "Yes". But I make no apologies.

When covering Europe I learnt a lot about countries from the postings of people who know them better than me. I find the replies interesting, and just occasionally surprising and revealing. But it's not just about what is useful for my work. As a dedicated reader of the replies, I enjoy the sense of an evolving conversation, that often takes off, as conversations do, in unexpected directions.

More than that I think questions are essential to a certain type of journalism. It's true the BBC style guide says to avoid questions in straight-forward news stories. But I worked on Newsnight for ages and when we asked each other "What's the story?", we didn't mean we were unaware of the central facts of what we were covering but that we wanted to home in on the essential political questions raised by it. You can go too far: in the distant past the BBC avoided some news stories which were simply good yarns, because they raised no "ishyoos". But questions and a range of answers are one of the things this blog is about and that's the way it's going to stay.

One question I can't answer is why Squirrelists found his posts blocked. But I certainly hope we haven't lost his (or her) provocative postings for ever.

But there may be fewer postings from me this week, although I will try. For a week only I have been promoted to commander-in-chief, at least in my own home. That is because for family reasons I am taking a few days off to look after my children. So my weighty debates may be whether equality of all citizens is more important than seniority when it comes to bed time or how to fairly share scare resources, like time on the computer.

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