Newsnight Scotland

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Newsnight Scotland
Presented by Gordon Brewer,
Glenn Campbell
Production
Producer(s) BBC Scotland News and Current Affairs
Location(s) BBC Pacific Quay, Glasgow, Scotland
Running time 20 minutes
Release
Original channel BBC2 Scotland
Picture format 576i 16:9 SDTV
Original release 4 October 1999 (1999-10-04) – 22 May 2014 (2014-05-22)
Chronology
Followed by Scotland 2014
Related shows Reporting Scotland

Newsnight Scotland was a BBC Scotland current affairs television programme which was broadcast at 11pm on Mondays to Thursdays, replacing the last twenty minutes of Newsnight on BBC2 Scotland.

History

Newsnight Scotland came about as a result of calls for a Scottish-based version of the 'BBC News at Six' (the so-called 'Scottish Six') following the vote in favour of Scottish devolution. As this did not come about a 'compromise' was then reached in 1999, when Newsnight Scotland was devised. Its creation was somewhat controversial, with Jeremy Paxman describing it as a "damn fool idea" and a "dog’s breakfast".

The first ever edition went on air on Monday 4 October 1999, presented by Gordon Brewer. The lead story was a scandal involving government ministers, lobbyists, and claims of paid access to the corridors of power.

From 2007? it was broadcast from Studio C at Pacific Quay in Glasgow, using the same set as Reporting Scotland.

Stories

The programme investigated many topics, including the costs of the construction of the Holyrood site. It reported in great detail about the decisions leading to this, including the competition for Scotland's new parliament. The biggest story covered was the parliament itself; with extensive coverage of the Fraser Inquiry.

Former editor of the programme, Craig Williams, listed a few highlights from the programme for an online article in 2005. They included a special programme commemorating the death of Donald Dewar; the coverage of the political demise of Henry McLeish; and coverage of Lord Fraser's inquiry into the cost of the Scottish Parliament building, which Lord Fraser himself described as "unmissable" and "ground-breaking" at the start of his official report.

There were also a number of stand-out films. Reports from Estonia, Italy, New York, Slovenia, Ireland, from all corners of Scotland, and an award-winning report from Newfoundland about the collapse of the Canadian cod fisheries.[1]

Criticism

In an interview for the Sunday Herald newspaper in March 2008, presenter Gordon Brewer asserted that Newsnight Scotland should stop "putting a kilt" on UK and international stories and concentrate on a wider news agenda. He said there had been pressure on the programme in the past to focus solely on issues unfolding in Scotland. Brewer said:

Some people think that all Newsnight Scotland needs to do is put a kilt on stories. But there is a separate forum for debate in Scotland and they don't have to be necessarily Scottish issues. I do not think that is 'nationalist' or 'anti-nationalist'. It is just saying there is a different, but closely-related, intellectual space.

Brewer said the programme would increasingly focus on the questions debated in Scotland and that its coverage of the war in Iraq was an example of the show getting it right:

We could have accepted that it had nothing to do with Scotland. But we had, at the time, an opposition that was against the war, which you didn't have down south, so you had a different space for debate up here. This is important for the way we are going to move in the future using material that is about growing the forum for debate in Scotland.[2]

Awards

The Newsnight Scotland team were rewarded for their work in bringing environmental issues to a wider public audience at the 2003 British Environmental Media Awards (BEMAs) in London. The award was for a report from Newfoundland, concerning the collapse of the Canadian cod fisheries.

Cancellation

In February 2014, the BBC announced that as a result of the upcoming Scottish independence referendum in September of that year, Newsnight Scotland would end in May 2014 to be replaced by Scotland 2014, a new half-hour long current affairs programme broadcast at 10.30pm Mondays to Thursdays. It would be presented by Sarah Smith, the daughter of the late Labour leader John Smith, who left her position at Channel 4 News to front the new programme.[3] The final edition was broadcast on 22 May 2014.

References

  1. Craig Williams, 'Devolution and Newsnight Scotlan', BBC News, 25 January 2005.
  2. 'Newsnight Scotland "needn't deal only in Scottish stories"', The Herald, 22 March 2008.
  3. 'Newsnight Scotland to be axed ahead of referendum', The Herald, 6 February 2014.