Cuts to Newsnight a major blow to investigative news, says NUJ

  • 29 Nov 2023

The National Union of Journalists is deeply concerned about changes in BBC News and Current Affairs which will result the closure of 127 posts.

The union believes cuts at the flagship news programmes Newsnight and Panorama will be a major blow, and they will diminish these investigatory and interrogative programmes which regularly set the news agenda.

The BBC has announced a raft of changes, including moving News at One to Salford, extending BBC Breakfast to 9.30 and News at One by 15 minutes, and wholescale changes to current affairs teams with the closure of existing roles and creation of 147 new roles focused on digital delivery.

But it is the changes to Newsnight which are most stark – slashing the team from 57 to 23, cutting the programme by a third (45 minutes to half an hour) and turning it into a discussion programme without unique filmmaking. Coupled with funding cuts to Panorama, the NUJ is concerned that news content and coverage risks being downgraded in the changes, with extensions to Breakfast and News at One not being equivalent to what is lost.

Paul Siegert, NUJ broadcasting organiser, said:

“Today’s announcement will be unsettling for many BBC staff and the NUJ is here to support members through this period of change.

“While we welcome investment in digital, we have grave concerns that the axe is falling disproportionately on investigatory news output. Flagship programmes such as Newsnight and Panorama have a long history of setting the news agenda with in-depth investigations and exclusive stories.

“The proposals would, on the face of it, diminish a part of the BBC’s output that has already been negatively impacted by previous rounds of cuts. The extension of BBC Breakfast and News at One would not provide an equivalent in-depth analytical and agenda-setting news product.”

The NUJ is opposed to compulsory redundancies and will fight for all staff who wish to remain to have a job, with training and redeployment of experienced staff a high priority. The union is consulting members and holding a series of meeting in the coming days, as well as participating fully in the consultation process.

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