After an extraordinary year of news, perhaps we have should have predicted that the summer would be busy. Even so, events have outstripped the imagination. There was the horrifying massacre in Norway, the revelations and resignations of the phone hacking scandal, riots erupting in England and then Libya crashing back into the spotlight. And all that was set against a backdrop of mass demonstrations in Syria and the continued European debt and currency crisis.

Throughout this exceptional summer, BBC News has demonstrated its strength. Operating locally, UK-wide and globally, we have brought live coverage and in depth specialist analysis to all our audiences on radio, television and on line.
Many BBC News programmes and services have seen a surge in the numbers of people turning to them for facts and insight. We have had record audiences for our website and our News Channel for example. But it’s also been an especially strong summer for Newsnight though by some of the recent comment in the newspapers, you would never know that. A wholly inaccurate and unfair narrative is emerging about Newsnight allegedly “losing its way”.

Let’s look at the facts about Newsnight. Over the summer, 13 editions have attracted over a million viewers on average as people have sought out an intelligent, lateral take on the news of the day. In the last two months, 11 million people have watched Newsnight – that’s one and a half million more than for the same period last year.

Those strong audiences are not a surprise. Time and again, Newnight’s discussions have set the agenda and made compelling television: Steve Coogan on phone hacking; Harman v Gove on the cause of the riots; Sir Hugh Orde on political interference in policing; David Starkey on race and culture.

Newsnight’s sharp debates, witty insights and testing interviews may challenge or infuriate. But they rarely bore. Neither does the range of films from the Newsnight stable: Sue Lloyd-Roberts fearlessly going undercover in Syria; Paul Mason following in Steinbeck’s footsteps exploring America’s underclass; the investigations into the use of undercover police posing as protestors. They show journalistic skill and confidence of a high order.

Does Newsnight face challenges now which it didn’t ten years ago? Of course it does. There is simply far more news and analysis available round the clock now than then. It’s much harder to make an impact with any single piece of journalism. But even against a massively changed media landscape, the Newsnight brand retains real power. On big days Newsnight is attracting significant television audiences and viewers through the internet, the iPlayer and other digital outlets. It also has a passionate twitter following.

Newsnight remains a vital part of what we offer our audiences. We know they value its distinctiveness and its depth. As the news cycle gets faster and fiercer, there’s never been more need for its unique and invaluable take on world events.

Helen Boaden is director of BBC News


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