It is arguably the BBC’s most right-on current affairs programme, but Newsnight’s lack of ethnic minority presenters and reporters has resulted in it being nicknamed ‘Newswhite’.
While the Corporation has pledged to improve diversity and better reflect its audiences, Newsnight does not have a single non-white journalist who appears in front of the camera.
Indeed, the only ethnic minority reporter on the show in the past four years was Secunder Kermani, who left in 2018 to join BBC News, while BBC Breakfast’s Naga Munchetty filled in as a presenter for 12 weeks in early 2017.
The revelation comes just days before Newsnight editor Esme Wren is due to appear at the Edinburgh TV Festival to lead a session entitled Reporting Racism: TV Journalism And Black Lives Matter.
A BBC insider told The Mail on Sunday: ‘Newsnight is the most sanctimonious programme on television, yet they have a terrible record when it comes to racial diversity.
‘You have Emily Maitlis claiming to be right-on, yet the show she presents is staffed, on screen anyway, by 100 per cent white people.
‘To say it has been noted within the industry would be a huge understatement. Everyone is talking about it and its nickname is “Newswhite”.’
As well as Ms Maitlis, who won plaudits last November for her eviscerating interview with Prince Andrew over his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, the programme is presented by Kirsty Wark and Emma Barnett.
Others who regularly appear on screen include political editor Nicholas Watt, UK editor Katie Razzall and policy editor Lewis Goodall. All of them are white.
Newsnight is no stranger to controversy. Only last week Goodall was accused of bias after writing an article about the exams crisis for Left-leaning magazine The New Statesman.
Under the headline ‘How a Government led by technocrats nearly destroyed a generation of social mobility’, he wrote: ‘We cannot know the extent of Dominic Cummings’ involvement in this sorry episode, and it may be that he was not part of it at all. But his approach encapsulates a method of governing that was on full display throughout.’
The article was approved by the BBC, which said it fell within its impartiality guidelines.
However, the Corporation ruled that a 53-second monologue by Ms Maitlis lambasting Mr Cummings for flouting lockdown regulations earlier this year had not met the required standards of impartiality.
Her introduction to the programme on May 26 began: ‘Dominic Cummings broke the rules. The country can see that and it’s shocked the Government cannot.’
She added that the public mood was ‘one of fury, contempt and anguish’.
A spokesman for Newsnight said last night: ‘Newsnight has an off-air team which exceeds the BBC’s target of 15 per cent black, Asian and minority ethnic people, but we know we still have more work to do, both on and off screen, and are fully committed to doing so.’