Samira Ahmed
BBC Newswatch has a new home and a new presenter when it returns to television tonight (5 October).

The programme, dedicated to viewer feedback on BBC news coverage, will be hosted for the first time by Samira Ahmed, journalist, writer and broadcaster. The programme will also broadcast from a new studio in New Broadcasting House, the recently-opened BBC News headquarters in central London.

"In my 20 years in broadcast news I've seen how technology has transformed what we see on screen and social media have broken down some of the barriers between newsmakers and audiences," Ahmed said in a release.

"But the same questions are still coming up: about fair dealing, balance and proportion. With viewers more willing to challenge coverage they think is not right, I'm proud to be part of Newswatch, which remains focused on getting answers from editors about their concerns."

Newswatch began in 2004 as a response to the Hutton Inquiry, a 2003 judicial inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of former UN weapons inspector David Kelly, as part of an initiative to make BBC News more accountable.

Ahmed told Journalism.co.uk: "As a journalist myself I am very critical of news and I do think about, 'do we always get it right?', so I'm really looking forward to it."

She added: "Newswatch is important and was set up at an important time for the BBC, to show that the corporation takes the viewers opinions very seriously. It wants to be seen to be accountable and I certainly feel that that's what the programme does. There is a huge amount of news output from the BBC so its absolutely right that we should do it."

Ahmed is enthusiastic about the effects of social media on modern news broadcasting. "Certain aspects of social media have created more transparency. I've certainly found on Twitter, because it's one-to-one, people can ask questions.

"The main thing is it's just a lot easier for people to get in touch with programme makers. I work on a number of different programmes and I get emails that go to my personal email account and sometimes the easiest thing to do is respond to them directly.

"It's that sense of transparency and being held accountable. All that's really changed is it's got a bit easier, people are more confident about doing it, people are in some ways more savvy about news but the issues that they raise are the same ones, that hasn't changed."

Newswatch editor Barney Jones is excited about the future of the programme. In the release he said: "We are delighted to be welcoming Samira Ahmed. Her experience as a distinguished broadcast journalist and presenter will be invaluable, as Newswatch starts a new chapter, broadcasting from a state-of-the-art studio in the BBC's recently-opened news headquarters in central London.

The programme will continue its tradition of airing viewers' opinions about BBC News and Current Affairs, and putting their points to programme-makers and executives."

Newswatch airs at 8.45pm tonight (Friday 5 October) on BBC News and 7.45am tomorrow (Saturday 6 October) on BBC One.

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