Tuesday 19 April 2016

Keeping tabs on 'Newsnight' (update)

Regular readers yma (or may not) be wondering whatever happened to ITBB's Newsnight survey, which has looked at every Brexit-discussing interview on Newsnight since the start of the year so to try and determine, once and for all, if the programme has a pro-EU bias - especially in light of this June's EU referendum.

I left off about three weeks ago (since 29 March) when the list of guests showed (Remain/Leave-wise) the following 'balance':

28 Pro-Remain
17 Pro-Leave
7 Questionable 

What's happened since (not counting last night's EU special, as that will be included in the next lot of figures)? Well:

Joint interview: Dan Hannan, Conservative (LEAVE); Michiel van Hulten, Dutch Referendum 'Yes' Campaign (REMAIN)

Joint interview: Chris Grayling, Conservative (LEAVE); Peter Mandelson, Labour (REMAIN); Siobhan Benita, former civil servant (REMAIN); Francis Jacobs, ex-ECJ (REMAIN); Marina Wheeler, lawyer (LEAVE); Robert Tombs, historian (LEAVE); Vernon Bogdanor, historian (REMAIN)

Joint interview: Dan Hannan, Conservative (LEAVE); Ken Clarke, Conservative (REMAIN)

Interview: Chuka Umunna, Labour (REMAIN)

Interview: Peter Greenaway, film director (REMAIN)

Add those onto the running total and we now have:

36 Pro-Remain
22 Pro-Leave

The Remain lead continues to grow - in this poll at least.

As for the sub-trend of Remain getting most of all of the solo appearances (i.e. not in joint interviews), well, that continues as well. I make the totals for that:

Remain - 17
Leave - 7


  1. Fantastic though that analysis is it doesn't cover the way items are skewed. I compared the two "pretend" 2030 news summary presented as part of the Referendum item last night. The "Brexit will be a disaster" mock summary was given 1 min. 30 secs. - 100% more than the "Brexit will be good news for Britain" mock summary at 44 secs. Why the huge disparity? Don't the Newsnight people care about balance? Evidently not. Incidentally I thought Daniel Hannan was superb - probably one of the best assets on the Leave side, given Boris appears to have taken on a shrinking violet disposition. .

  2. Still no solo appearances for a Leave voice, versus several for Remain? Come on, BBC. From the relevant section of the BBC's EU Referendum Editorial Guidelines:


    Each editorial area of output – programme, strand, channel etc – will be responsible for ensuring how it achieves an appropriate balance across the campaign as a whole. How that coverage is distributed from the beginning to the end must also be achieved in a fair and appropriate way, but in daily programmes, that will normally mean finding broad balance across each week of the campaign.

    For one-off output, due impartiality and broad balance must be achieved within the single programme.

    Individual editions of daily programmes or strands should avoid getting out of kilter, unless there is a strong editorial justification:

    there may be days when one side dominates (for instance, because of a particularly high profile event) but in that case, care must be taken to ensure that appropriate coverage is given to any similar or corresponding events organised by the other side;

    It's not even close yet.


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