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Noddy's not dead

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Peter Barron | 12:43 UK time, Friday, 31 August 2007

We've had a huge response to our item looking at the techniques used in putting together TV news pieces, following the decision of the new editor of 5 News to ban "staged" shots (watch the item here).

Newsnight logoThe outcome is by no means clear cut. Many thought that editing shots like "noddies" and "reverse questions" should be banned, some on the grounds that they could lead to deception, others that they are just plain old-fashioned and clunky. But many others think any ban would be a gross over-reaction and that as long as the broadcasters use these techniques responsibly there is little problem.

So what is our conclusion on Newsnight?

A walking set-up, and three 'noddies'The first thing to say is that the issue of editing shots is in a different league from the incidents of deception and dishonesty which have caused turmoil in the TV industry in recent months. But if the industry's response to those problems is a new level of transparency towards our viewers then it is surely right to address what we used to call the "magic of television"

Noddies (the reverse shot of the reporter, illustrated here with Evan Davis, Rosie Millard and Andrew Marr, which is recorded after the interview is over, and used to cover an edit point in an interview)
I'd stop short of a total ban, but we certainly encourage our producers to use them sparingly. On Newsnight we make a lot of longer films and I can imagine if we banned the noddy ending up in a perverse situation where you'd have lots of weird cutaway shots of anxiously clasped hands or white flashes just to avoid a perfectly harmless image of a reporter (apparently) listening to an interview.

Reverse questions (the reporter or presenter's questions, recorded after the interview is over, when only one camera is available)
We're not going to ban these. Unlike most news programmes we often run exchanges between correspondents and interviewees within our films, rather than just soundbites. If we rejected the reverse question we could end up with a lot of shots of interviewees listening blankly to the interviewer's question, or the equally unnatural "two shot" (a wide shot of interviewer and interviewee talking about what they had for breakfast)

Walking set-up shots (the shot of the interviewee, very often a politician, walking stiffly past the camera as a means of introduction)
These are banned. Our rule is: don't shoot them and you won't be tempted to use them. But where do you draw the line? Is it wrong to direct anyone to do anything they wouldn't normally be doing - prune the roses, type at a computer - so we can get some shots of them? We have at least one cameraman who believes that and insists on only shooting things that are occurring naturally.

And isn't that the real point of this debate? Viewers demand and expect that what they see in news and current affairs reports is a true representation of what is happening through what they know is an artificial medium. And after that they expect a natural and undistracting viewing experience. If the outcome of this debate is that viewers end up being distracted because they can see all the joins, then we will surely have shot ourselves in the foot.


  • 1.
  • At 04:42 PM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Peter wrote:

Thank you for explaining in rather more detail exactly what a 'noddy' is. And thank you too, for considering the response you received and for the very sensible decisions you have reached.

You have my full support.

  • 2.
  • At 04:47 PM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Iain Scarlett wrote:

The Voice of Reason speaks at last!

  • 3.
  • At 04:49 PM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Paul Dornan wrote:

Oh for goodness sake - get over yourselves. Why are you letting yourselves be panicked and pushed into such pointless self-examination by the British Newspapers of all people. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. That's the Sun and the Mirror and the Daily Mail lecturing you - and us - about truth-telling and partiality. Organisations that willfully distort and fabricate fact, opinion, quotes and pictures on a huige scale on a daily basis. TV is highly regulated and generally careful. Being held to account by the papers is like having Maradonna lecture on the rules of handball. let it go and get on with your jobs.

  • 4.
  • At 04:49 PM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • oulwan wrote:

Oh my goodness, yes, ban everything that isn't happening naturally. I don't care if I get funny cutaway shots or anything else.

You say, "Is it wrong to direct anyone to do anything they wouldn't normally be doing - prune the roses, type at a computer - so we can get some shots of them?"

It's not "wrong". But it's generally very obvious. And I hate it! Take an example of a hypothetical family, where a child has recovered from some amazing brain surgery. Such a piece might be prefaced by the parents in the garden pushing the child on a swing. It's always glaringly obvious that they've been told what to do. And my teeth grind!

I'd prefer to see the family behaving perfectly normally, doing whatever they were doing before the Beeb arrived, even if it means that the two-year-old little brother barges in and has a tantrum. And if this means there is a sudden stoppage in the film, followed by a re-start (after an edit) I don't care. At least I know I'm not getting staged film.

I find the other stuff patronising in the extreme!

And I haven't even touched on the possibilites of mis-construing what people say in interviews by canny editing, as I'm not accusing you of wanting to do that.

  • 5.
  • At 04:56 PM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Michael Jarvis wrote:

This is a storm in a teacup, brought about by confusing the issue with outright deception.

I've often been filmed by television cameramen whilst walking into my office with the interviewer; there's nothing wrong with that in my opinion.

  • 6.
  • At 04:56 PM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Alex wrote:

The only really serious issue was the "reverse question". This editorial technique is clearly open to subtle abuses, and I am disappointed that Newsnight has not chosen to ban them.

Having a shot of an interviewee listening to the question instead is not such a terrible thing. In fact it may even have the positive side effect of keeping the questions short and to the point. And I really do not understand what is so unnatural about the wide "two shot".

  • 7.
  • At 04:56 PM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • barrie wrote:

You should call it Organic Television. No artificial additives were used in the editing this TV feature.

  • 8.
  • At 04:59 PM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Alan Constable wrote:

I don't think there should be any editing at all: editing is deception.
As for 'Walking set-up shots': what's the point? They always look so amateurish - you're supposed to be professionals.

  • 9.
  • At 05:05 PM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Clifford Payton wrote:

It is a question of integrity. In a Radio 3 concert recording it is common for the orchestra or singers to do "patches" to cover coughs or aircraft noise. In quiz programmes such as Mastermind occasionally parts are repeated. The important thing is that nothing is changed. The Mastermind contestant gives the same answer as he did first time round even though he by then knows it is wrong.

The same should apply to a recorded interview. Nothing should be contrived but, for instance, re-recording the interviewer's questions as he first asked them to enable a one-camera interview appears unobjectionable.

More importantly, I understand that some news broadcasters use footage supplied by the subject of the item. I find this far more objectionable since it questions editorial freedom and integrity, and could even allow promotional material (political or commercial) to be shown as if it were genuine news. Any such footage should, if allowed at all, be clearly identified as such.

  • 10.
  • At 05:12 PM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Brian Kelly wrote:

'Noddies &Reverse' shots are all part of staging(word used in the best sense) All part of compilation presentation..doesn't really matter how many cameras on the set. Nothing is done to blatantly deceive the viewer, these methods have been practised by Directors for as long as i can recall. The 'Walking set -up' shot introduces the interviewed, gives the viewer a sense of the person.. simile would be an establishing wide shot of a building before cutting to interiors.. the audience is introduced to the story location.(sometimes a cheat)but only to enhance /explain the story better not to deceive in any evil sense!SO lets concentrate on the real deception.. such as the premium phone calls when the caller has no chance of winning..thats a very nasty business.

  • 11.
  • At 05:23 PM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Abe Wood wrote:

an interview should be an interview any added shots after the event is definately not part of the interview and leaves too much with the editor, and the opportunity to skew the end result in the interviewers favour

  • 12.
  • At 05:25 PM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • John F Pitt-Pladdy wrote:

I think you've got it just about right. The only thing I would say is that if you're going to use 'Noddy' shots please give your interviewers a bit of training first. Some of them are painfully obvious.

If what you do doesn't alter the basic truths of an interview, these techniques can help to clarify answers. I would ask, however, is that the 'noddy' questions are exactly the same as the ones actually asked!

Fran Pitt-Pladdy

  • 13.
  • At 05:25 PM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Kris Jones wrote:

Television is a narrative medium. Even in news and current affairs, someone must construct the story in such a way that it is readily understood by viewers. 'Noddies', 'reverse questions' and 'walking set-up shots' (or any form of establishing shot, for that matter), are among the least offensive ways of adding to that narrative. They are mostly unnecessary and many viewers will be aware that they are part of the construct.

Newsnight is one of the least offensive BBC news and current programmes for trickery. I do find it irritating when BBC Breakfast interviews the same people for a second time, asking them the same questions as before, rather than repeating the earlier interview. There's no point in interviewing people live a second time if they are expected (and probably briefed), to give the same answers as before.

What concerns me more is where it is clear that the film-makers have clearly set up events to fit their narrative. This happened in current affairs and documentary programmes. The recent BBC One documentary series, 'The Tower' is one example Clearly this was an authored piece offering a modern-day parable about moving with the times. But what of the sequence where following the death of a pensioner, others gather in a café to listen to one of their numbers sing "O Danny Boy"? I find it hard to believe that the event would have happened but for the cameras.

  • 14.
  • At 05:31 PM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Chris Hills wrote:

Your email today says: "If the outcome of this debate is that viewers end up being distracted because they can see all the joins, then we will surely have shot ourselves in the foot." Well I get distracted by the tricks you use to cover up the joins. Whenever I see a noddie or a reverse question, I know that the the interviewer is nodding attentively, or asking a question, while looking at an empty chair. And that makes him look ridiculous.

"If we rejected the reverse question we could end up with a lot of shots of interviewees listening blankly to the interviewer's question, or the equally unnatural "two shot" (a wide shot of interviewer and interviewee talking about what they had for breakfast)" - I want to see the interviewee being asked the question, I want to see his reaction. The "two shot" should definitely be banned if there's only one camera, it's deception and it's totally unnecessary.

  • 15.
  • At 05:49 PM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • P Osbourne wrote:

Noddies are a non-issue. See the bigger picture.

Liz Mckean made a big deal of the channel 5 announcement, and tried very hard to make some unfunny points and show how they were demystifying the way news crews work. oh you wags! Her report was smug, patronising, pointless, forced and clearly over-cooked with her hammy acting. I felt it was more offensive than the innocuous use of noddies.

It seemed ironic that she did not address all the other pointless affectations of BBC news such as standing/walking presenters across studios, man/woman autocue in turns, live links from a dark street after the event, and the banal pre-arranged Q&A with a reporter by the studio anchor. All these are widely criticised by audiences, and yet Newsnight tries to be clever with noddies.

Newsnight - get some perspective.

  • 16.
  • At 05:49 PM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Duncan wrote:

Why do elephants have big ears?
Noddy wouldn't pay the ransom.

  • 17.
  • At 05:49 PM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Lindsay Story wrote:

Having read your response carefully, all I can say is "Well, you would say that, wouldn't you." I agree with Abe Wood.

  • 18.
  • At 05:53 PM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • oulwan wrote:

Alex wrote:

"And I really do not understand what is so unnatural about the wide "two shot"."

Me neither. By attempting to be too glossy/slick, you're only making things fake. That's what it amounts to. And it's generally very obvious anyway.

But I also take the point of the poster who said, "don't let raggy newspapers dictate to you" (or something like that.)

The Beeb has been under far too much scrutiny since the whole David Kelly/Andrew Gilligan affair - and has lost its teeth. We're getting far too much of the establishment's line and not half enough courageous journalism.

  • 19.
  • At 06:12 PM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • marc woodland wrote:

Surely in bannng 'walking set-up shots' you are removing the 'problem' least open to abuse. My response to your 'naturalist' camera man is that I am fairly confidant I don't want to see Prezza doing what comes naturally; particularly at 2240h when I'm 'chillin out' The 'reverse question' is a far more dodgy area - not that I question Newsnight's integrity too much - but differences even in intonation, facial expressions etc from the interviewer can change the way in which the audience may interpret the answer. The same is true to a lesser extent of 'noddies'
At the end of the day this is all a 'storm in a teacup' these are the least of television's problems- I know its the silly season for news so I sympathise. Although I invariably watch Newsnight I suspect it's on a different wavelength tonight

  • 20.
  • At 06:30 PM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Paul Najman wrote:

I still don't understand what 'reverse questions' are.

Can anyone explain them a little more clearly?

  • 21.
  • At 07:52 PM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Tom Gill wrote:

As a devotee of 'Newsnight' I don't take much pleasure in including the Newsnight team in my criticism, most in tellyland you tend to patronise the viewers.
Do you honestly think that your audience, or for that matter any TV audience - excepting maybe tellytubbyland - have been fooled on any level by the so-called 'noddies'?
The average television viewer in Britain is a most sophistacated creature, don't you know?
Many, many moons ago he sussed out your noddies, walkbyes,sit-by-the-phone-and-wait-for your highers results scenarios.
Watching Newsnight the other night I couldn't help laughing at how serious you all were, when, as you thought, you were revealing these great secrets of television.
Do any of you have any idea since exiting Universityland, what kind of world Britain is today, and how cutting-edge communication technology is almost the norm?
Come on Newsnight, it's time you caught up with your viewers.

  • 22.
  • At 10:12 PM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Mike Turbine-Hamilton wrote:

The best thing to do is to listen to Radio 4; then, you can't see what tricks they're up to.

BBC TV has become far too tabloid.

- MTH.

  • 23.
  • At 10:53 PM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Jonathan wrote:

'noddies' and 'reverse questions' are ridiculous and clearly deceptive.
How could apparently respectable journalists stoop to it?!

The media crowd may have acclimatised to this seemingly harmless deception - but it displays an elitist attitude that looks down on the viewers

  • 24.
  • At 11:11 PM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • John Warmington wrote:

There is a particular cousin of the noddy which is both objectionable and hilarious to watch - the bilingual q&a. The BBC reporter is shown on camera asking the subject a question in English, to which the subject then immediately replies in his own language.
It looks like something out of a Chris Morris sketch. Worst of all is when the reporter actually speaks the local language but is banned by the BBC from displaying that skill on air. Dumbing down par excellence.

  • 25.
  • At 11:23 PM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Len Richardson wrote:

Impartiality, not banning devices like noddies and reverses, will create confidence in television news programmes. News, particularly international news, is reported from a perspective reflecting the contemporary prejudices and biases of the nation. A prime example of this is the reporting of events in the Middle East.

sincerely, Len Richardson

  • 26.
  • At 11:37 PM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Dan Stewart wrote:

What makes you think the Television is an "artificial medium". What is seen through the camera in its pure form is not artificial at all... Isn't this what the whole debate is about? Editing is not trickery. It is a means to relay ideas that we comprehend by our last hundred years of understanding filmic language.
I'm afraid its just evolution... You will have to change, because for people now, anything more than a basic filmic aid - to help us piece together what you are trying to express - is completely transparent and should be sent to the knackers yard...
Unless of course, your just trying to tell a story. But newsnight aint Hollywood, is it.

  • 27.
  • At 08:55 AM on 01 Sep 2007,
  • Rod Gray wrote:

If it's a question of two cameras to a location or more and better research then spend the money on the research every time

But please please get the music out of news and current affairs!

'The first thing to say is that the issue of editing shots is in a different league from the incidents of deception and dishonesty which have caused turmoil in the TV industry in recent months.'

And well said. Plus, it is to be hoped, to also be well acted upon.

Credit too, at least, for listening.

Noddies - well, ok, but please ensure that there is no hint of anything in the interviewer's manner other than being to accept the narrative flow.

Reverse questions - Hmn. Still sounds to me like an opportunity to alter perception, if only by changing the tonality of the question. I can't quite figure out why the actual question and actual answer can't sit together. In this day and age the lack of another digicam locked off on a tripod as an excuse seems poor.

Walking shots - Yaaay! Along with those awful 'door open/first time we've met... not' efforts, I hope. A view, I suspect, shared by many interviewees, who just look silly. Big up to your cameraman. I just wonder how easy it is to get a truly 'natural' shout with a crew, boom mike, lights and whatnot.

I disagree with John Barron on all counts. Television news has become a treadmill because it is always the same journalists that asks the questions to virtually the same people. Newsnight is the least offender it's true and I wish to congratulate the work of many of its journalists. But it alone will not stop the tide of the BBC becoming irrelevant as your very own Jeremy Paxman once said. Instead of looking to accommodate old fashioned techniques so as to appear 'modern' I suggest that you, form time to time, blow the old formulas into smithereens and try something news. How about a programme in the form of questions fielded by viewers themselves? You can then do away with nods, fancy walks and fake questions all in one go.

  • 30.
  • At 12:38 PM on 01 Sep 2007,
  • Richard wrote:

Remember 'library photos'? There is no deception if you tell us what is going on. Run a banner under the interview - 'noddies used, reverse questions used' and so on. Having said that I didn't find the reasoning on reverse questions very convincing especially the bit about breakfast.

  • 31.
  • At 03:12 PM on 01 Sep 2007,
  • Marjory wrote:

I agree that the Reverse Question is open to abuse. How do we know that the wording hasn't been changed, whether accidentally or even deliberately? Even a subtle alteration like omitting a word could change the meaning of the reply. Stop using them.

Noddies are just silly and make me laugh.

The 'walking up' shot should be avoided because it's so cliched. I wouldn't have thought a director who has any pride in their work would use them.

  • 32.
  • At 09:17 PM on 01 Sep 2007,
  • Brian Hodder wrote:

Many of these techniques are irritating but what I really object to is the misguided attempt to communicate.
The `visual flak` Newsnight often uses to make an arthouse clip of a report is so irritating.
Producers should ask themselves will this help the viewer to understand - rather than will this look snazzy to my boss.
Often I need to close my eyes to avoid the visual distraction and listen to the reporter.
The `entertainment` element of Newsnight is logic,detail,
discussion,explanation & exploration not distracting visuals

  • 33.
  • At 10:51 PM on 01 Sep 2007,
  • Julius wrote:

As a television journalist and producer, I accept the importance of cutting away from the single, monotonous shot of the interviewee to the 'reaction' shot of the interviewer. That the interviewer was there is not in doubt, so the reverse angle being recorded post-interview is not an issue. NEEDING to nod is, perhaps, the beginning of the slippery slope towards abuse. I've found that when the reporter doesn't nod, this suggests objectivity and not tacit agreement/acknowledgement of a statement, which may or may not have occurred. And strangely, while viewing an interview, these nod-less cutaways refocus my attention on the subject of the interview; there's the notion that the subject has to 'convince' the interviewer just as much as he has to win the audience. So that's what I do - noddies without nodding. Try it, Newsnight.

  • 34.
  • At 11:07 PM on 01 Sep 2007,
  • Alex wrote:

Could you please ban these two as well while you are at it:

1) Showing a pre-recorded film from your correspondent then spending another ten minutes interviewing him about it afterwards when we've all just sat and watched it.

2) Sending someone to stand outside a "relevant" building no matter what time it is just to illustrate the story e.g. story about politics = man broadcasting live from outside a deserted number 10 Downing Street at 11pm for no reason at all.


  • 35.
  • At 01:28 AM on 02 Sep 2007,
  • Mary wrote:

Thank you to the Newsnight team, and to previous posts on this topic, for elucidating the issues.
Having long found BBC news so 'managed' and even most of Radio 4's bulletins now succumbing to a tabloid agenda, the only news programmes I can now face are Channel 4, World at1 (great now with Martha running it), Today before 8am and - supremely - Newsnight. I'm interested, but not surpised, by your honesty about the technical tricks the programme employs in its highly informative filmed inserts.
However, let's never ignore the fact that the great strength of the programme is in its live interviewing. I keep hoping that you'll find someone else who can speak for the rest of us as well as Jeremy Paxman does, and much regret that Martha, who ran him a close second, has left.

  • 36.
  • At 09:26 AM on 02 Sep 2007,
  • Malc Dow wrote:

Amazing how many people would appear to "enjoy" fake TV.

  • 37.
  • At 11:16 PM on 02 Sep 2007,
  • William Dickens wrote:

Carry on Newsnight. I think you do well.
Am an old codger now, bought my first set in the early fifties - 10" black and white - so am well into the minority and realise you have to satisfy the majority - but some of the rubbish, particularly the commercial channels - Well !!!
Thank god for Newsnight and 24 Hour News
Remember the "Wednesday Play" ?

Hello Peter. I'm glad that you're interested in what your audience thinks is and isn't acceptable in the making of Newsnight.

Perhaps you could spare us a minute now to explain why Newsnight resorted to the technique known as 'dodgy editing' a few weeks back, just before Gordon Brown became Prime Minister.

Your deputy, Robbie Gibb, provoked more questions than he answered when he wrote Putting things in order.

I wrote about this at Biased BBC, both at the time, and again today, and would appreciate it if you will be kind enough to spare us a minute to answer the simple questions I've asked. Thank you.

  • 39.
  • At 06:54 AM on 03 Sep 2007,
  • merle wrote:

To Kris Jones # 13 - You say television is 'narrative'. I say let's unpack the 'narrative' word because I'm hearing it everywhere these days. In the corporate world, employees are being asked to reach out and share their 'narratives' (?), in PR, narrative = spin, in news, narrative = creating 'story' out of disparate facts instead of giving us 'factual context'. Narrative can also mean make-believe, storytelling, thumbsucking, psychobabble, obfuscation and perhaps sometimes, the bald truth. 'Narrative' also begs the question: 'whose narrative gets to prevail?' Does 'narrative' belong in TV news and analysis?

  • 40.
  • At 09:01 AM on 03 Sep 2007,
  • Alan MacLean wrote:

I never particularly had a problem with the 'noddies' or 'reverse questions', I could see they were part of the editing process and didn't quite look natural (like they had been recorded at a different point and edited back in) but now that I know what you mean by them, I don't mind htem.

The walking set-up shots though, I never liked - they always seemed particularly false, as it looked like it was supposed to give the image of the interviewee in their natural environment, but as a result of them being staged, they just look false and instead I always felt that it was the programme-maker trying to make me feel sympathy for the subject and their situation rather than doing that through the strength of the argument. I won't be sorry to see these go.

  • 41.
  • At 02:06 PM on 03 Sep 2007,
  • Adam wrote:

I have to agree with Paul (#3). This all seems to be going a bit far. Yes, it's good that you're thinking about these things, but would it be too much to ask just to throw away all the rules about what is allowed and what is not allowed and just expect program makers to use their common sense to decide what's deceptive and what isn't?

  • 42.
  • At 02:11 PM on 03 Sep 2007,
  • Kenenth wrote:

3 days without a Broadcast News mention - what is wrong with everyone?

If you've not seem it, the film Broadcast News has a story about a cynical anchor faking tears in a cut away "noddy" shot, to cut a long story short, the key must be there can't be anything to the cut away - a nod or interested look is OK, but I've seen reporters (although not on Newsnight) using noddies to add to the feature, and make them look better - that is wrong. On the other hand, there is no harm in showing a plain shot to enable a cut - its necessary, why is TV panicking over every nuance? It's only the big stuff most people actually notice.

  • 43.
  • At 02:23 PM on 03 Sep 2007,
  • Gareth wrote:

I have no great wish to see The Great Paxmo or any others "(apparently) listening to an interview" let alone reduced to nodding gormlessly. Unfortunately, obvious cuts would probably rouse greater suspicion of what has been left out.

If you must continue such tiresome performances at least entertain us with intentionally poor continuity. Changes of outfits, location or even interviewer for pedants to spot. You could even give away prizes to the most observant, though obviously not through phone-in competitions.

  • 44.
  • At 04:00 PM on 03 Sep 2007,
  • jim-uk wrote:

Why only one camera? it does seem to be a rather pathetic excuse, modern cameras are not the huge great lumps they used to be so it's not a size issue. Have things at the BBC and ITN got so bad that you don't have enough cameras or people to operate them? maybe we could organise a whip round and buy you one.

Leave things in order, don't add stuff and you may get back some of that trust you've lost.

  • 45.
  • At 06:07 PM on 03 Sep 2007,
  • gregor aitken wrote:

Peter, you shot yourselves in the foot at the BBC when you were caught lying. Now we can debate all day about editing and such. But the trouble is that you (as an institution) were caught lying.

Most news junkies like me dont really care how you broadcast news just as long as you are telling the truth.

Part of the whole Web2 revolution means joe public is getting more savvy about how video editing is done, why not cut and edit your Interviews for your show and then show the uncut raw footage online. Now you might say this would take a lot of time/money whatever but please remember.

You were caught lying.

it might take extra work/money to get some trust back.

Plus if you could confess to all the news you have been told not to broadcast for whatever reason.

Like the truth and reconcilliation thing they did in South Africa.

You could have an hour long special, where you could admit you knew all about pinochet and the US and the death squads but you didn't want to say to much at the time because of reason x or y


we had this great program all about and Airline and their underhand methods of working but we pulled it because it would have been bad for business at the time.

you could even mention all that information you got relating to 9/11 but did nothing about and...

oops sorry is that one ongoing still.

  • 46.
  • At 06:12 PM on 03 Sep 2007,
  • David wrote:

You (the beeb) have been shown over and over as a bunch of liars. I don’t trust you at all. You’re supposed to be in the truth, facts & history business. As such all fakery and construction is flat out wrong or imorral. Give up the art (ifce) and report the FACTS.

Andrew (38)

The piece you are referring to was made by the independent film-maker Jamie Campbell. The BBC has said it was not good practice to reorder the sequences, but that the overall sense of the piece was not significantly changed. I am convinced there was no intention to deceive the viewer and that the ordering of the two sequences was done to assist the flow of the film rather than to change its sense.

But it is clear from our viewers' response to Robbie Gibb's blog that they were unhappy with this and we accept that.

  • 48.
  • At 09:53 PM on 03 Sep 2007,
  • Chris Hills wrote:

I agree with "the other pointless affectations" mentioned by P Osbourne in #15. But they are not so much deceptive as simply laughable.

I get really annoyed about "Over to the Foreign Office for the latest ...". No, it's over to someone standing in the street outside the Foreign Office. And there is no "latest", nothing's happened for hours!. Stop it! It's totally unnecessary and is wasting my licence fee money!

  • 49.
  • At 10:02 PM on 03 Sep 2007,
  • Alex wrote:

I think it is just another example of what an incredible programme Newsnight is that you will send us your editorial guidelines when such an issue comes up. You so obviously really do care about your viewers. Thanks.

  • 50.
  • At 10:57 AM on 04 Sep 2007,
  • Anne J wrote:

From some of the posts on here, you'd think society would ban lighting shots in case it makes subjects look more or less attractive. For heaven's sake, it's television. If we could all interview the person ourselves, we would expect a 'real' experience. Otherwise we either get a professional presentation, or a very boring, incomprehensible, long-winded 'real time' interview. Looking at today's politicians, I know which I would choose.

  • 51.
  • At 01:42 PM on 04 Sep 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

I don't ever forsee BBC giving up reverse questioning. It's a wonderful technique to taking someone out of context or for putting him into a completely different context altogether. Vaughn Meter's record album of 45 years ago called "The First Family" and a followup "Welcome to the LBJ Ranch" were perfect examples of how this type of backwards editing could be used for political parody and comedy. It's equally useful for political scandal and slander.

Forward Question: "When did you fly back to London?"

Forward Answer: "Yesterday"

Reverse Question: "When did you stop beating your wife?"

Inserted Answer: "Yesterday."

The opportunities to recompose a story to your own slant even inadvertently using the speaker's own words and voice are just too good to pass up. Its one drawback is that it is a rather transparent ploy but I think for much of BBC's audience it will not matter.

As for shooting polticians in awkward or compromising situations, I don't see any problem with long as they are in season and you have an appropriate hunter's license.

  • 52.
  • At 06:01 PM on 04 Sep 2007,
  • efe otubu wrote:

without coming across as totally ignorant and unworldly, isn't the idea of manufactured NEWS what the whole DEBATE on trust is about? to read the smug commentary of how professionally these so-called shots are and can be executed leaves the odd question as to what is wrong in utilising these resources to record ISSUES and putting the energy into making these reports of benefit to the public.

  • 53.
  • At 09:26 PM on 04 Sep 2007,
  • Bryan C wrote:

Peter Barron (47)

Two video sequences. We've learned that the one broadcast second was actually filmed a long time BEFORE the first. Jamie Campbell's linking narration spoke of "the same press officer..." The unmistakable implication of the footage as cut together and broadcast was that the press officer, having "already" spoken to Campbell, was now calling in the police to heavy him. Yet you are convinced there was no intention to deceive.

Well, it did deceive. It is clearly deceptive. And apparently no-one at Newsnight can grasp it.

I hope you all enjoy your in-house course to teach you integrity.

  • 54.
  • At 03:58 PM on 05 Sep 2007,
  • Kris Jones wrote:

To merle at ⋕39.

You're right that 'narrative' is over-used. What I meant was that in order to give the news context and coherence and make it understandable to the audience, it is assembled into 'stories'. Behind each story are researchers, journalists, commentators, editors and directors and different news-gathering technologies. During the process of putting a piece together some judgement is made about how important the story is, what resources should be devoted to it, where it will come in the running order, what time should be allotted to it, etc. Assembling the news into stories that viewers and listeners can digest inevitably involves some form of artifice How it is done can affect the perception of the audience. We have to trust journalists and editors, etc to do this in a way that doesn't provide too much distortion.

In turn I, as a 'consumer', make choices about what news sources I trust. That is why I buy certain broadsheets rather than tabloid newspapers, and why I prefer programmes like Newsnight and Channel 4 News to other sources (including other BBC television news bulletins).

  • 55.
  • At 11:46 PM on 05 Sep 2007,
  • jo wrote:

One of my pet hates is when there is an item about drug use they always show film of someone pretending to snort or rolling a joint. Do you have to be so cretinously literalist and crude?

When there's an item about sexually transmitted diseases you don't show two teens jiggling behind a bus-stop.

The dying gasps of and about an almost extinct form. Reading all of the above, I'm drawn to the conclusion that a lot of people are needing to "get a life".

TV is for entertainment... Friends, Frasier. News, if you *must* have it, you get from the Guardian, from sources you can trust. You'd be amazed how quickly your life improves if you just switch off Newsnight, Andrew Marr et al.

  • 57.
  • At 01:48 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • john russell wrote:

Re-Gregor Aitken/Post 45.

I'd support Gregor's point that it's the content of our news media that interests most of us, rather than presentational issues.If we're seriously talking about Standards in Broadcasting,a few technical devices being used to ease the production process is not an issue.If the host population are excluded from seeing their concerns about NHS doctors bombing airports, put forward in their news media, for me this is an issue.

  • 58.
  • At 11:07 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • northernbloc wrote:

How about making the unedited versions available online, and letting the viewers decide for themselves if these techniques have been used responsibly?

  • 59.
  • At 02:51 PM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • John Gammon wrote:

Sorry, but I find both noddies and reverse questions to be both clunky and dishonest. I'm surprised that such techniques for news journalism haven't been updated for decades, the result I believe being big switch-offs for some of our most important news programmes. Despite the technique being lampooned by Drop the Dead Donkey, I still frequently encounter on TV a carefully placed children's teddy on a pile of rubble whenever there's been a bomb attack.

Let's catch up with the 21st century. Some "factual" programmes are able to be intelligent lively and interesting without using such nonsense, such as Charlie Brooker's Screen Burn on BBC4.

  • 60.
  • At 04:07 PM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Matt M wrote:

I don't have a problem with Reverse questions, noddys and the like - a television interview is almost always about the spoken information exchanged, and mostly the visuals are simply to fill the screen while we listen - there the artistic skills of the cameraman and editor should be given free rein as long as integrity is retained.

In fact, I applaud the position on walking shots, as the ban seems to be purely on artistic grounds.

However, given the discussion happening today on other BBC blogs where your editor justifies the use of a helicopter to track a car journey purely to fill screen space during conversation, I don't see how the use of two cameras for an interview can be held up as unaffordable - surely a single hour of camera plus helicopter could buy many hours of extra camera staff?

  • 61.
  • At 03:52 PM on 14 Sep 2007,
  • Martin wrote:

What a pointless debate - of course these techniques aren't in the same league as the other falsehoods recently exposed. Do what you have to do to put together a meaningful report - we are all adults and can spot the 'filling' shots etc.

  • 62.
  • At 04:47 PM on 16 Sep 2007,
  • Mr B J Man wrote:

Anyone remember The Two Ronnies comedy shows, and their speciality of completely changing the meaning of a conversation through their intonation and expressions?

They even did sketches where they played news presenters!

Perhaps the Beeb has been using them in training sessions?!

  • 63.
  • At 11:33 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Jon Stone wrote:

I've found all of the above very entertaining. I teach National Diploma Media (it's vocational, not 'Media Studies') and this morning I've been teaching video editing for documentary using some rushes which feature an interview, followed by reverse questions, noddies and cutaways. The students find the whole thing quite archaic initially, but after they have watched unedited rushes they soon realise that the noddie is a useful tool in terms of cuting out the 'waffle' from interviews and boiling it down to the important facts. Interviews for newspapers are always heavily edited, and I see no reason why TV needs to be any different, and the idea of newspapers accusing TV of deceiving the audience is laughable. Most people these days realise that television is artifice, all of it. It is a product which is manufactured and there are wll established production techniques which have always been and will continue to be used and it should come as no surprise to anyone. With regards the noddie/reverse questions, as long as the meaning of the interviewees response is not changed, or answers are used out of context, I can't see a problem. I think to confuse this issue with premium phone lines and the furore surrounding these is a mistake.

I'm now off to the studio where I'm going to get my students to interview each other, then record reverse questions and lots and lots of noddies. Noddy ain't dead yet!

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