Gee up, Newsnight: is it time to stop flogging the dying horse?

Twenty-four-hour news channels and all the commentary online make it ever harder to offer a definitive take on the day.

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It’s possibly because of the grimness of the news agenda that I find myself ending the day with BBC2’s Newsnight less often than I used to. I admire the energy that Ian Katz has brought to the role of editor, but there’s a sense he could be flogging a dying horse.

Twenty-four-hour news channels and all the commentary online make it ever harder to offer a definitive take on the day, and over on Radio 4 the Today programme mops up the key interviews. The senior corres­pondents’ pieces for the adjacent BBC and ITV ten o’clock bulletins cut away yet more of Newsnight’s territory. Jeremy Paxman’s ability to create a sense of theatre even on a dull night is missed.

I would move the programme to a new slot: start it at 11pm and give it up to an hour, with a brief to be more discursive. It should improve its coverage of science and culture. It could incorporate analysis of the newspaper first editions in the way that works well on Sky and the BBC News channel, and focus on intelligent viewers and alternative voices. It should disregard the ratings. One reason this may never happen is that there’d be one of those spurious media fusses about losing the 10.30 slot; but unless the programme is reimagined, and radically, it will merely lurk as the ghost of glories past.

Roger Mosey was the BBC’s director for the London 2012 Olympic Games and is Master of Selwyn College, Cambridge. He has previously worked as editor of Today on BBC Radio 4, controller of BBC Radio 5 Live and head of BBC Television News. This is a preview of his diary in the new issue of the magazine. Get a copy now, in print or via the App Store

Roger Mosey is the Master of Selwyn College, Cambridge. He was formerly editorial director and the director of London 2012 at the BBC.

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