Jeremy Paxman on the future of telly

“Let’s spend less time measuring audiences and more time enlightening them.”

“We need to be open…..We need to admit when we make mistakes. We need treat our viewers with respect, to be frank with them about how and why programmes were made, to be transparent. We need, in short, to rediscover a sense of purpose.”

“And the problem is not going to be addressed until senior people in this industry have the courage to come out and state quite clearly state what television is for…..What’s needed is a manifesto, a statement of belief. There has been a catastrophic, collective loss of nerve.”

“Sometimes you want to sit there and say, ‘Not much has happened today, I’d go to bed if I were you'”

“But, no, the pretence must be maintained that 45 minutes’ worth of discussable material exists. So, we all shout. Right now we could do with less hyperventilating and more deep breathing.”

If they had any sense the BBC top brass would get him to draw up the first draft of the manifesto. Then they would significantly increase the Newsnight budget.

4 thoughts on “Jeremy Paxman on the future of telly”

  1. Well said. As well as Newsnight which I try to watch most days I watch Channel 4 News. They could do with an editorial team that read Mr Paxman’s upcoming manifesto. They sadly try to stretch a number of in depth stories too far, sadly repeat preconceptions even as they have been unravelled (e.g. in a second or third live interview, using superceded questions). And some of it is so thin that it is transparently pot boiling.

    Other times – last night’s 10 minute segment on the gun crime in Liverpool – they are very very good.

    It is a shame that my friend Tony Wilson is not still around to help Paxman out. Because like Paxman he was terrific at thinking on his feet and getting to new areas of stories and being a confessor and friend or effective spar to the people who are the newsmakers.

    I have just been reviewing some meejah around the vexed issue of black youths and crime as two of my BNP trolls – or more accurately one as they are the same man – have fallen into line and started providing sources and links.

    There is one particular ITN piece – only 90 seconds long – in which Huw Edwards I think it is changes what Paul Condon said very substantially, and reliably Michael Howard comes along at the end and changes it some more.

    Paxman would not tolerate that.

  2. Paxman – how refreshing. However, Kelvin McKenzie’s response on Newsnight last evening showed the depth of the problem. He thought Paxman’s comments were “uncommercial” and “pure rubbish”. By ‘uncommercial’ presumably McKenzie indicates that unless the news is superficial, hyped, and loud, it is not worth presenting. You are right in suggesting that Paxman writes a first draft of a manifesto.

  3. McKenzie still thinks he has his finger on the zeitgeist- he doesn’t; and he may just have been in the right place at the right time in the 80s.

    He does however, see the market and audience figures as the only credo that television needs. Some would say that ITV has gone down that route: although ITV4 remains largely thoughtful. But to their credit, there are many digital channels that keep quality before quantity.

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