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Online analysis

Peter Barron | 12:00 UK time, Thursday, 27 September 2007

I thought I detected a bit of a new media milestone on Newsnight this week.

Newsnight logoIn an interview with Jeremy, the Foreign Secretary David Miliband took exception to a figure we had quoted in a piece about UK companies' investment in Burma. He also admitted - and this is a rarity for a politician - that he didn't know the answer to one of Jeremy's questions, and promised to clear up both points by posting something on our website.

Our webmaster Stuart was thrilled at the on-air endorsement.

The next day the FCO duly sent through a statement confirming that the figure we'd used was out of date. Then the Burma campaign group sent us a statement taking a dim view of the FCO's clarification (you can read those here). Viewers piled in too, demanding and debating the answers, while the programme producer responsible for the piece went online to direct the traffic.

Of course Newsnight items have been provoking debate on the website for years, but what I hadn't seen before was so many key participants in a story - government, pressure group, programme makers and the audience - engage in a spontaneous post-programme analysis online. I hope we can all do it again.


  • 1.
  • At 01:13 PM on 27 Sep 2007,
  • csharp wrote:

its bound to happen more.

Indeed the most active public service board, before it was axed, was the BBC Great Debate Board . It became a forum where stories were broken days ahead of the media such as usa troops arriving in russia before the gulf war. Political jokes posted there would then 'appear' on Rory Bremner [it happened so many times it couldn't have been an accident].

because it wasn't linked to a programme it attracted a greater audience from all around the world.

Imho Newsnight needs to forget going for the Daily Mail slot who have a mass market of shop/office girl readers and focus on providing a service to the 100,000 decision makers in society. The audience might be 'less' but the potential influence huge. In this case it matters not how many are talking about the website but WHO is talking about the website?

what is the point of having 10 clapped out marinas when you can have a Mercedes...

  • 2.
  • At 02:14 PM on 27 Sep 2007,
  • Bedd Gelert wrote:

Never mind the fact that Mr Miliband was willing to post on the Newsnight website - surely the real precedent here is that Mr Paxman was !? Welcome aboard, Jeremy..

All very well, but while there is no test of competence for voters to pass, politicians will still skew elections by expending £millions on manipulation of "shop/ofice girls" (sic). Get your Marinas in a row and the election is won.

Newsnight has earned its position of respect, able to attract the senior participants in major issues in a way given to few of us, through serious and diligent current affairs reporting. On the web and on air.

May I suggest that it is time for the programme to devote its attentions to the National Identity Scheme (NIS), the cocktail of ID cards, ePassports and biometric visas that the Home Office is dreaming up for us?

The NIS has many of the features of NOMS, the National Offender Management Scheme, which we learn in today's Times may now be scrapped. I expect the NIS to be scrapped one day, like NOMS.

Am I right? Or wrong (it is possible)? Newsnight could help to answer that question and I hope that you will.

Thanks to its serious reporting of current affairs, Newsnight has earned respect and seems to have the power often to make the senior participants in major policy debates attend. On air and now, it seems, on the web.

That is a power open to few of us. May I suggest that it would be a public service for Newsnight to further the debate on the National Identity Scheme (NIS), the cocktail of ID cards, ePassports and biometric visas the Home Office are mixing for us?

We learn in today's Times that the National Offender Management Scheme (NOMS) may be scrapped. I would expect the NIS to go the way of NOMS.

Am I right? We could find out if Newsnight would assemble the participants and chair a rational debate.

Absoutely brilliant work Newsnight!

Interesting. A full six posts since Thursday at time of writing (Saturday pm - assuming this makes it), and one set are duplicates. I predicted a half dozen -

The country's Foreign Minister and one of the more significant broadcast interviewer/celebs on one of the few significant national broadcast news shows pretty much lock horns on key matters of fact and the viewer at the time is left bewildered as to what is going on and who knows and/or is doing what.

But fear not, all is to be clarified later on the website.

Now I know out of 60Million there are only so many who can vote and/or care about the state of the country and/or stay up that late (or catch it next day online) to watch a news show, and only a fraction of that audience care enough for sometimes a good 20 to pile in and engage on a blog.

But out of so many protagonists, 5 viewers so far on the only discussion board about the follow-up would seem to indicate that, as media milestones go, it surely ain't that great a poster child for politics or the way it gets reported upon and/or viewed these days.

Peter (7)

A disappointing number of responses I agree, but the point surely is that the information is there should viewers want to follow it up after the programme. About a million a month are doing so. And it is early days in terms of key players engaging directly on our website. But the day after I wrote that exactly the same thing happened when in response to a film about Dominos Pizza a representative of the company and a whistleblower both went onto the site unbidden. Number of responses currently 14, that's progress.


  • 9.
  • At 12:43 PM on 02 Oct 2007,
  • D Kirk wrote:

In my opinion, Newsnight have done themselves no favours and should apologise to the Foreign Secretary. The piece was either poorly researched or the facts misrepresented to the viewer. By accident or intent that still requires an apology.

Miliband was honest enough to say "I don't know". But then why should he know about the affairs of the Dept. for International Development. He shouldn't be stepping on the toes of other ministers.

And I'm surprised by the spin on this story that Newsnight prompted some kind of coup by involving the BBC, the government and the viewers in a debate. Despite the fact that the debate was instigated by errors and omissions in the original report. Just accept there was a lapse of the usual high standard of reporting, apologise and move on.

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