BBC BLOGS - Newsnight: Susan Watts
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Goodbye in this format

Susan Watts | 12:03 UK time, Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Some of you may have noticed that I'm not the most frequent of bloggers. Under the Beeb's new blogging policy, frequency is uppermost in deciding who stays and who goes. So this is my last blog.

I'll still be writing longer pieces, as an online complement to items that run on the programme. But it's goodbye in this format

Funny, because just a few days ago a colleague decided to check out a blog I wrote on the power of aspirin - before deciding whether or not to buy a tonne of the stuff, to help ward off cancer.

And that got me thinking about other postings, and their unexpected ripple-effect, like the one that prompted an invite to a closed door meeting ahead of the Copenhagen climate conference, and led to interviews with key players.

Then there was the one that prompted contacts from within the UN system to get in touch over how to make the best use of science in warning the world about tsunamis, or nuclear accidents.

And my first pandemic flu blog, which kept people calling with suggestions for fresh lines for the programme.

Others that made a mark include a posting on the death of the campaigner Haydn Lewis, who told the world so much about the plight of haemophiliacs in the UK by being brave enough to make his own story public.

My personal favourites include: bringing together Stephen Hawking, Eels and the Theory of Everything, uncovering the truth behind flammable water in taps on America's east coast.

And the numerous items that didn't quite make it onto Newsnight, but needed telling, like interviews with relatives of Alan Turing - before the surprise official apology from the government over the way their computer pioneer uncle had been treated.

I'll miss all that, Susan


  • Comment number 1.

    I am stunned by the inflexibility of the policy.

    I find managing the large volume of media content, along with the daily stream of e-mails, Bloomberg messages, tweets, not to mention newspapers, hard-copy research, and (dare I mention the word) books quite tough. As such, I find it astonishing that the BBC is happy to trade quality for quantity. I would be on the other side of that trade every time.

    So sorry to hear that you aren't picking up the new format, but it will be a loss to the BBC.

  • Comment number 2.

    The various blogs on the BBC covering a wide range of topics, together with the informed, considered responses posted by the readers have aided my understanding on a whole range of subjects. In its haste to comply with the government enforced, News International inspired edict that the state broadcaster provide nothing but the most basic of services the BBC has ruined the most inclusive and compelling part of its web-site.

  • Comment number 3.

    So not only has the BBC forced its journalists to migrate to an 'in-house system' which would have been out of date in 2005 it also has some sort of mandatory quota of blogs that must be fulfilled.

    This is entirely preposterous: you are not peons - you happen to have the best jobs in journalism working for world's best news organisation - you should all down keyboards in protest at this misbegotten policy until the BBC gives you back the same freedom and functionality any newbie blogger enjoys.

  • Comment number 4.

    The BBC is wrong to do this. Let us hope that policy is changed. Same to me, that the blogs provide me with a huge understanding on the subject added to the programmes I watch such as Newsnight daily. The blog clearly provides aid in understanding subject matter more, and can make a difference as in the one that prompted a meeting at a climate conference. Nevertheless, I will still hope to read and comment on the blog in the future.

  • Comment number 5.

    '3. At 02:07 27th May 2011, Roger - you are not peons - you happen to have the best jobs in journalism working for world's best news organisation

    Granting aspects of the middle, I have to stray from agreeing to the last and the first.

    And in so doing suggest they are all related.

    These are pretty good jobs in journalism, if brand and scope and resource and exposure is the desire. However, as impartial, professional reporting went out of the window in favour or agenda-driven social engineering ambition and cheap twitter-sourced 'news' gathering ages ago, 'best' is long gone. Leaving the more tangible 'rewards' of pay, perks and pensions.

    And as those are at whim of the guys at the top, peons will tend to grasp how to secure their careers. And respond accordingly.

  • Comment number 6.

    .I don't agree with Beeb's policy. We are going to cancel Susan's science blog due to less traffic? Lady Gaga has the most followers on Twitter. According to this logic, why doesn't the Beeb run her music videos all day long? Numbers is everything, right?!

  • Comment number 7.

    Had to laugh at Susan's piece on last night's show. Three independent studies of the sun predict a ("falsifiable"... that's a blast from the past) low peak to Solar Cycle 24 and a damper squib for No. 25, with a predicted slump in temperatures. (If it fails to materialise they'll have egg on their faces, but it will be an honourable defeat. The IPCC - in contrast, and like every other apocalypse cult - is immune to their hypothesis being refuted.)

    An our Susan says something like, "Well, we may well be in for a couple of cold decades. That'll mitigate some of the Global Warming." With higher velocity due to embankments, it's unlikely that the Thames will again freeze over even if temperatures fall to those of the famous "ice fair" years. But if it does, Susan will be there, wrapped up in her woolies saying to camera, "Of course, this is just a temporary respite from the inevitable roasting we're all in for."

    How about a piece on Cognitive Dissonance, Susan?

  • Comment number 8.

    'before deciding whether or not to buy a tonne of the stuff, to help ward off cancer'

    Just wondering about sell-by dates.

    As much for blog posts as stockpiled meds.

  • Comment number 9.

    Hi Susan,

    Hell & I was just going to subscribe to your RSS feed! Oh well, I like your articles, as someone who grew up with the still-astonishing Apollo programme I really enjoyed yesterday's piece on the new indie space projects. All the best.

  • Comment number 10.

    The editors have over 648 complaints about the new style blogs. The consensus is that they accelerate the drive towards extremism and bigotry this is apparently the aim of the change to just 400 characters. But nobody is listening.

    I strongly suspect that the change you are suffering is the result of the same misguided policy where blog volume is the measure of value - and nobody carea about the content. Indeed the content is what is most feared and to be avoided!

    This is damaging to not only the BBC but to democracy, but I suppose someone has to pay for the move to Salford Keys - it is just a pity that democracy and reasoned debate are the principle areas of loss.

    Good luck.

  • Comment number 11.

    'neutrinos have exceeded the speed of light'

    Eienstein's Theory Of Relativity is good - it just does not apply to all sub-atomic particle in terms of their behaviour re speed of light.

    Newton's Laws 'not rejected' just reinterpreted & better explained over time, just improved on - so why think that ET of R was 'wrong'.

    Surely, there is room for both 'ET of R' & sub-atomic particle advancement?

  • Comment number 12.

    'They' may simply have measured the wrong neutrino i.e. one being pushed along by one or more behind it?

    We'll have to wait & see?

  • Comment number 13.

    "Under the Beeb's new blogging policy, frequency is uppermost in deciding who stays and who goes."

    so the bean counters and 'faceless dictators' have won? #10 seems to confirm this. shame, really.

  • Comment number 14.

    Hi Susan, I looked for your email address and I couldn't find it anywhere on the blog. Can I ask you to give me your contacts? I would appreciate it if you didn't post this comment online for public views because it has my mobile number and all contacts.

    I am a documentary maker and now I am working on a project about David Kelly, his life and his death. If you have any time available, I would appreciate 30 minutes of your day to review your opinion about Kelly's efforts and controversies over his death. I expect the filming to be about the possibility of a suicide attempt or a murder case over his death and also some people's idea to bring a prosecution case against Tony Blair.

    I will use parts of the discussion in a documentary film which will be broadcast on Press TV (an English language satellite channel).
    [Personal details removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 15.


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