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Market sentiment

Peter Barron | 16:53 UK time, Friday, 23 November 2007

The history of Newsnight's nightly markets update has not always been a happy one. On Thursday we reported that in New York the "Dow Jones was substantially down amidst more credit crunch fears". That's odd, many of you told us, as - being Thanksgiving - Wall Street's finest were on a day-off. Our economics editor Stephanie Flanders was mortified - "unforgivable and embarrassing" was her verdict.

Newsnight logoThis is, I am ashamed to say, not the first time we have made such a mistake. The markets information is almost always the last thing we do on Newsnight and in the scramble of a particularly lively programme last night we neglected to notice that the US markets were shut and blithely reported the day before's figure. I'm sorry and I'm determined this won't happen again.

A couple of years ago we thought one way of avoiding problems with the markets was to abolish the spot altogether, but the outrage then means we won't try that again. Instead, we have inserted a note in the markets page which will read for ever more:




A good example of what happens when one depends upon computers...Will anyone take note of your warning message?

Never mind. Anyone with an interest in Wall Street already knew it was shut.

Namaste -ed

"What I like most about myself is that I'm so understanding when I mess things up."

(it does amaze me how a quote chosen at random by a computer can so often be apt)

  • 2.
  • At 12:21 PM on 24 Nov 2007,
  • claire wrote:

Dear Editor,

I found this comment whilst looking at green isues, it is from Mr Dickie Strawbridge TV's favourite moustache.


The best idea I’ve seen to tackle climate change is…
I’m working with a company that has found a way of capturing CO2 emissions from internal combustion engines, which could mean that soon cars, power stations and any form of motor powered by fossil fuels won’t contribute to climate change.

If this company has achieved this as Mr Strawbridge is saying then we are looking at the next Industrial revolution as discribed by Mr Gordon Brown earlier in the week.

The comments were of this being worth Trillions to the British Economy and a million new jobs for UK workers.

Does anybody know who they are as every company in the country, nether mind the world will need there services. If Al Gore got a Nobel peace prize for a film on Climte Change, what will these guys get for actually halting it?

I look forward to reading the next issue, maybe finding out who they are?

Yours truly


  • 3.
  • At 02:37 PM on 24 Nov 2007,
  • DaveH wrote:

Well, we all make mistakes - as the Dalek said, climbing off the dustbin. (Jasper Carrot c.1980) There is nothing wrong with the odd obvious error, but how about some more coverage of Europe sometime?

Never mind, Peter, most of us who are interested in these matters have other sources than Newsnight for such information. It's useful and I wouldn't want y'all to abandon the coverage, but it isn't life-critical.

And on Friday night we were told that Wall Street was 'still closed', which it was by the time of broadcast, after a shortened trading day with a substantial "consolation" rise.

For some acerbic comment from my favourite columnist:

Namaste -ed

Generally speaking, the Way of the warrior is resolute acceptance of death.
-- Miyamoto Musashi, 1645

  • 5.
  • At 05:48 PM on 24 Nov 2007,
  • Gregor Aitken wrote:

whats going on.

So were getting an admission of you just telling a bare faced lie and calling it news. Ok it may have been a genuine mistake but why not just say we failed to get the figures on the programme. i wouldn't imagine the suits in the city use your reports to make decisions. Regardless though, and in all seriousness, you sent your 'journalist' onto the telly and told them to lie- dress it up how you want, big lie, small lie whatever. It was a lie.
Best of all, thousands of people are questioning your reporting of other matters and how truthful you are all being and we are assured the BBC does no wrong. Ok no wrong apart from the occasional lie we caught for. So the claim is that the only times the BBC has lied you have been caught.


please come clean of all your lies.

You must have pulled a trick like this before and have got away with it, so please tell us when

Or as a punishment you could get Richard Porter to please answer any of the comments on his thread, its been a long time since we heard from him and all of us over on his blog would love him to say Hi.

C'mon you all got caught you owe us one

  • 6.
  • At 07:09 PM on 24 Nov 2007,
  • JG wrote:

Well done BBC, showing your true understanding of finance and business yet again. I wonder if you would also like to comment on last nights Newsnight, when your presenter informed us that "it's holiday season in the US and the markets are closed, and the DOW unchanged." She then went on to say, "you'll have to trust me on this."

The only problem with this being that the markets were not closed in New York yesterday (the "US holiday season" being Thanksgiving that was on Thursday)and while it was a short day of trading (the market was open for 5 hours) the DOW was actually up 181 points or 1.42%!

Quality reporting BBC. Why can't you actually employ people with business and not arts degrees?

  • 7.
  • At 07:53 PM on 24 Nov 2007,
  • R.Taylor wrote:

Trans: it's someone else's fault that we make mistakes.

  • 8.
  • At 10:02 PM on 24 Nov 2007,
  • Chris Tebbutt wrote:

Having left IBM 14 years ago where I spent 13 years, I remember the days of punched cards, large tapes which had to be mounted manually, reminiscent of the old reel to reel tape machines, and the revolution to the internet.

I've been a clergyman in the Church of England for the past 12 years and even we have seen progress from floppy disks to a wireless, paperless office, where we can send files, large and small, relatively securely via broadband to almost anyone, anywhere.

So I'm flabbergasted that a government department, as high profile as the HMR&C, with all the resources at the disposal of the government, is still sending DISKS through the post. Elementary stuff, and not even encrypted, come on, even the CoE can do it better than that!

  • 9.
  • At 09:29 PM on 25 Nov 2007,
  • churnobill wrote:

Am I the only one to find Ms Flanders over-reaction just a little bit pompous. As an Americophile, doubtless she knows when Thanksgiving is, but as a regular viewer, I didn't notice and I bet you didn't either.

Having said which, Newsnight does seem to be riddled with basic mistakes and weird bits of amateur looking TV these days. That bit with Paxman reading your opening titles from a piece of paper rather sticks in the memory, but there's something going wrong most nights now. So are you going to blame the 23 year old researcher every morning, or are you going to fess up that you can't make a proper Newsnight with the resources you're now lumped with?

  • 10.
  • At 07:51 AM on 26 Nov 2007,
  • Mike Staunton, PhD wrote:

Why you continue use the inferior and unrepresentative Dow Jones 30 share index rather than the S&P 500 share index amazes me

And much better to give rises and falls in terms of percentages

And even better to look up the US holidays at the beginning on the year (there aren't many of them and they're all fixed well in advance) and put them in your note rather than looking every day throughout the year

  • 11.
  • At 09:49 AM on 26 Nov 2007,
  • john russell wrote:

Honest mistakes happen. The cock-up is intrinsic to the way the world works. We shouldn't worry about our low level foul-ups in a world where the current PM is a social inadequate, and the last one a liar and war criminal. If anyone notices, just say 'lessons have been learned, oh and I've launched a wide ranging independent inquiry.' And just keep doing your best, Best wishes, John R.

  • 12.
  • At 10:23 AM on 26 Nov 2007,
  • pat wrote:

But you still get it wrong:-

... Peter Barron contritely said on the Newsnight blog on Friday afternoon that it won't happen again because they will check the U.S. market is trading. So Emily Maitlis was much more careful with Friday night's market report:

"...the FTSE 100 share index closed up, sadly we can't show the exact figures, um, holiday season as you know in the US, so the Dow Jones remains unchanged. Against the Euro, the currencies here, the pound up, against the dollar the pound was down. You'll just have to take my word for it. We'll get you some figures by Monday."

The market was actually open and up 181 points closing at 12,981 (according to Sky News). So did they actually check the market was trading? Doh! Can they get it right tonight or will it be three days in a row?

pro patrea memorabilis

  • 13.
  • At 01:17 PM on 26 Nov 2007,
  • J Eccles NW London wrote:

Do the weather instead

Pat (12), I despair! We are having a complete revision of the way we collect and check the markets information.

  • 15.
  • At 02:57 PM on 26 Nov 2007,
  • StefZ wrote:

What bothers me is not that someone in the BBC mistook Wednesday's market data for Thursday's market data. We're all only human after all. What bothers me is the fact that someone made up a reason to account for that data and reported that reason as fact

  • 16.
  • At 03:02 PM on 26 Nov 2007,
  • J Eccles NW London wrote:

They were trading Friday the States has a "three day" rule about Bank holidays and trading .....

  • 17.
  • At 01:15 AM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • churnobill wrote:

Well done on getting the markets right tonight Peter. Think you even managed to get through a whole programme without messing something up. I hope you celebrated.

  • 18.
  • At 11:36 AM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • David G wrote:

Out of interest - is Andrew Marr reading this ?

  • 19.
  • At 01:56 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Adam wrote:

Well, we all cock up from time to time. I'm not going to stop watching Newsnight as a result of this.

It's great that you realise the mistake and own up to it. It's still a world away from the print media, where newspapers just print a whole bunch of lies and think nothing of it.

  • 20.
  • At 08:16 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • John Bensted wrote:


  • 21.
  • At 02:05 AM on 28 Nov 2007,
  • Gregor Aitken wrote:

Good to see paxman giving a politician a roasting about accountability and even better then chastising them for avoiding the truth.

You do realise how hypocritical this is when you stonewall every question regarding either 911, the disgraceful conspiricy files 'documentary' or the BBC's ability to see into the future and report buildings falling before they do, all questions regarding these events warrent no response.

You are turning into FOX News with the barefaced nature of this now. It's getting insulting frankly.

  • 22.
  • At 11:27 PM on 07 Dec 2007,
  • James Marsden wrote:

Another "error" by the BBC?

How many times can one lie, cheat, and make up stories before the entire company is fired? Or is forced to go it alone without government funding?

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