TV News Viewing Blog – Newsnight Comparison

BBC Newsnight is a current affairs news programme broadcast on weekdays between 10:30pm and 11:20pm on BBC2. There are currently three regular presenters; Kirsty Wark, Emily Maitlis, and Evan Davis. Newsnight has been aired on TV since 1980. 

BBC Newsnight Logo via wiki

In terms of the format, Newsnight tend to stick to 3 or 4 main news stories and cover them in great detail, often spending 15 minutes on each story to fill a 45 minute broadcast. This results in their news stories being reported on in much more depth than others. For example, on the 27th April 2017, a story which was reported by many news outlets was the fact that Trump was approaching his first 100 days of presidency. Obviously both Newsnight and Channel 4 news reported on this, however Channel 4 produced a report that was 7 minutes 48 seconds long where as Newsnight created a report that lasted 12 minutes 10 seconds, which is significantly longer.

Newsnight have stuck to a format where by they present a select few news items and report on them in depth.  They have stuck to this format as it allows for certain reports to be given in detail. The current era of digital media and 24-hour news means that Newsnight has become increasingly popular within its audience demographic as the viewers enjoy the idea of getting greater details out of a story. However it may also mean that a new audience demographic has become harder to reach as people can now access news instantly and with ease, instead of waiting for a Newsnight broadcast. Having said this, with the audience demographic of Newsnight being slightly older and more educated, the idea of digital 24 hour news may not draw their audience away as the news broadcast on Newsnight is much more politically focused. Although they steer clear of political bias, they often hold debate stye interviews in studio and on webcam with reputable politicians who give a balanced argument on the topic being discussed. This debate style interview helps the BBC to expressing their own opinions, political or otherwise. This is dissimilar to other news programmes such as ITV news and Channel 4 news who have a much more confrontational approach when interviewing guests such as politicians; their aim is get more scandalous answers or the answer they want!

On the 27th February 2017 their first story was about Brexit and John Major’s fears for the country’s future. They have chosen to show a solid clip of John Major’s speech that lasts for just over 50 seconds which is interesting as in other news programmes such as ITV for example, clips of John Major’s speech are shown for about 60 seconds, but are constantly broken up by arty shots such as cut ins of his hands, panning to faces, wide shots of the audience and more.  Newsnight may have chosen to show a solid, non-interrupted 50 second clip of John Major performing his speech in order to focus the viewer on what is being said due to the audience and the show being quite politically focused meaning the audience will have more interest in exactly what Major is saying. In contrast, ITV news is more persoanable and stimulating for the viewer by being more visually attractive and less serious than BBC.

Also from the same show on 27th February 2017, the news story about the Oscar award mix up where La La Land was mistakenly named best picture instead of Moonlight, was a top news story across many TV news channels. Newsnight covered the story but simply mentioned the mix up and went on to report on the winners of Best Documentary ‘The White Helmets’ in great detail. Other shows such as Channel 4 News had the Oscar story higher up in their menu and focused solely on the mix up, where as Newsnight had the Oscars as their final story and also chose to report a different aspect of it. During their report of ‘The White Helmets’ documentary (which is about civilian rescue workers in Syria), the presenter says; “you may recognise their name from previous Newsnights over the last few years”. This also gives us an insight into the audience of Newsnight as it suggests most of its viewers are regular and consistent and are expected to possibly remember previous reports and packages they have done. They possibly chose to steer clear of the typical Oscar mix up story as it was being reported by everyone else and also the visual opportunities for that story were quite limited. The ‘White Helmets’ documentary story gives them more scope to make a better package as they were able to use clips from the documentary and they also had a video of one of the ‘White Helmets’ who filmed himself talking about what they were doing in Syria. Parts of the ULAY were also filmed in Aleppo which was classed as the most dangerous city in the world at one point, making the visuals for this piece more exciting and interesting for the audience, in comparison to generic clips of the Oscar mix up.

Overall, although Newsnight has retained its format (even through the current digital era), its audience has stayed loyal due to the difference in presenting style and reporting of stories in greater detail than other news programmes.


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