Here’s the lowdown on the nation’s biggest and most influential news broadcasters – straight from the big dogs themselves.
Ms Unsworth has overall editorial and managerial responsibility for the BBC World Service, the BBC World News Television Channel and the BBC’s international facing online news services in English.
She ensures the output covers the BBC’s values of independence, impartiality and fairness in their international services, and is also the first female director in its 82-year history. Broadcasting in 28 languages, the BBC World Service attracts a weekly global audience of 191 million people who regard it as the most objective voice in international news. Ms Unsworth says that the World Service are currently developing their digital branch following the success of their WhatsApp news service during the Ebola outbreak in Western Africa. They are particularly interested in the rise of smartphones in Asia and Africa, and are attempting to find ways to provide content for China and North Korea.
Geoff Hill is the Editor of ITV Network News. He is responsible for all of ITV’s national news programmes, as well as the London News, Tonight and the website. As ITV is “free” from the pressure of 24-hour rolling news, the channel focuses on producing high quality, people-focused news packages. Mr Hill argues that long-form journalism is still “active and wanted” and a scheduled news programme such as ITV News, allows viewers to grasp more complex stories in a manageable 30-minute time slot. Flagship programme ITV News attracts six to ten million viewers per day. Their audience base is predominantly the over 50s, and is mostly female. They don’t aim to attract certain demographics, but do “stand up for the stories they believe in”. Their programmes focus on human-interest and are loaded with eyewitness accounts and case studies.
Mr de Pear oversees the running of the channel’s flagship news programme, which aims to appeal to “everyone in Britain”. The programme tries to not only provide a summary of the day’s top stories, but aims to have a “wider vision”, delivering in-depth reports and carrying out original investigative journalism. Channel 4 News also endeavours to hold public figures to account, particularly on incidents of injustice in public life. By his own admission, Mr de Pear admits that whilst their content is often very “bleak”, the channel does try to maintain a sense of “mischief” in their style. Mr de Pear says correspondents are “let off the leash” and are given the chance to be more opinionated than is typical. Mr de Pear feels “7pm is a rubbish time to be on” and thinks the ideal time for their programme and target audience would be 9 or 10pm.
Cristina Nicolotti Squires, Editor of Channel 5 News
ITN’s 5 News “reaches audiences that others don’t”. Broadcasting at 5pm, viewers are typically retired or not at work. The programme is aimed at people that typically “dislike the news”. Their audience is predominantly older, with 53% being female, and a high percentage of their demographic identifying as BME. Admittedly Ms Squires says 5 News are “distinctly lagging behind” in technology compared to other outlets. But despite having a zero budget for marketing and digital media, she still manages to keep their Facebook and Twitter feeds active. Being a small team, 5 News rely upon agency feeds for their core newsgathering, but the perks of being part of the ITN family, means they also have access to content from ITV’s lunchtime bulletins too. 5 News like to “have fun” with their programme, particularly by using a lighter story to end the show.
John Ryley is responsible for “everything that you see, hear and read” at Sky News. As a 24-hour rolling news channel, the pressure to deliver high quality content is constant. Sky considers the BBC their biggest rivals, but Mr Ryley sees Sky as a “harder-news broadcaster”. They possess the ability to go into extraordinary depth on stories, and delve into complex issues in ways that other broadcasters are unable to do. They strive to be more distinct, different and “ambitious” in their output. For example, their most recent digital venture sees them taking on Snapchat for instantaneous, short, snappy news directly to smartphones. Whilst their Snapchat target audience is young teenagers, Sky’s 24-hour rolling news service and radio bulletins pull in a predominantly male, “well-educated”, over 45s spectatorship who are interested in current affairs.