BBC Newsnight – A Comparative Study

Newsnight is definitely one of the most famous news programmes on British television, specialising in the cross examination and truth-telling of current affairs in and around the UK whilst broadcasting on a national as well as a global scale. Newsnight is available worldwide through BBC’s player and reaches audiences of over 600,000 viewers on average. However, this is still a dramatic decline for the show and views have reached an all time low, so how does Newsnight differer from other related news programmes?

This weekday news programme has been running since the 1980’s and featured Jeremy Paxman as its main presenter for more than 25 years, creating some memorable and controversial news-tellings throughout its years. The BBC being a public service broadcaster supports the show by providing a sense of trust with its audience that news shared by the BBC can be trusted.

A different approach for the BBC with this particular news programme is the specialised audience that the programme is aimed at. Providing hour long shows usually consisting of 3 to 4 very detailed topics. Although the show does use quite a large amount of specialist lexis aimed at its older, more mature audience of male, left wing political supporters, after watching the show from beginning to end you feel not only engaged but also up to date with local and political news.

Other news providers such as ITV and Channel 5 have a more subtle and colloquial way of communicating with their audience as their programmes tend to be less formal and more often than not, more wide spread, investigating global disasters and scandals rather than interrogating right wing UK politicians. The difference between the audience relationships with these broadcasters and the BBC come down to the idea that the BBC conveys a promise of the truth and therefore seems more trustworthy as they have been named “the most reliable news source in the world” they have a duty as a public service broadcaster to provide facts and honesty.

Throughout the hour long broadcast, presenter Evan Davis carries the show along through each of its defining news stories with the aid of the presenters like Emily Maitlis who use their combined knowledge of news, politics and social behaviour to communicate with both the guests on the show and the national audience. Unlike ITV shows, BBC Newsnight remains politically neutral as it tries to cater for all viewers. ITV broadcasters in particular allow their presenters to involve their personal opinions and describe incidents in more of a personal way using terms such as “heartbreaking” which would not be said on the BBC. This could be at an attempt for ITV to appeal to a slightly younger audience that want more from journalism than a 50/50, neutral broadcast. BBC, with its longstanding and global reputation doesn’t seem to try new techniques in its news broadcasting and remains the same today as it ever way.

Overall, despite the decreasing nightly figures for BBC’s Newsnight, the reputation of the show remains clean, untarnished and trusted by millions and goes without having a political or ethical stance in their agenda, unlike other mainstream news broadcasts or publications. By using a repeated group of well trained and specialised presenters there is more trust given by the audience as they have clear and memorable faces to tune into every night.

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