MEDIA: Profile: Making news come alive at 5 - Chris Shaw, editor, Channel 5 News

Chris Shaw was having a tough day on Monday. He’d been in the office since midnight on Sunday as, along with most news organisations, Channel 5 News thought that the Queen Mother might not survive her hip operation.

Chris Shaw was having a tough day on Monday. He’d been in the

office since midnight on Sunday as, along with most news organisations,

Channel 5 News thought that the Queen Mother might not survive her hip

operation.



As we spoke he had a live feed from a White House press conference where

he, along with most news organisations, waited for Bill Clinton to make

a statement.



It’s worth emphasising the ’along with most news organisations’ bit

about Channel 5 News. Despite some of the sniping over Channel 5’s

youthful agenda and it’s departure from the conventions of TV news, 5

News isn’t some John Craven’s Newsround-style lite-bite show. It is a

news organisation, plain and simple.



When Channel 5 launched last year Shaw said 5 News would be radical.



For a start, he explained, the camera will move through a

brightly-coloured newsroom, following Kirsty Young around as the show

progresses. She’ll conduct interviews perched on desks, he said, chat to

reporters and present the programme without any conventional desk to

hide behind. Shaw also claimed there would be a different agenda on 5

News, citing more sports, consumer affairs, entertainment and the

environment.



Nine months later, he’s proved true to his word. ’I think we’ve gained

in confidence since the actual launch,’ Shaw says. ’When we started, we

were worried that too much running around might put the viewers off, so

we restrained some of the camera work. As we’ve become more confident

and the feedback we’ve had from the viewers has been positive, so we’ve

become more adventurous. We also picked up a Royal Television Society

award, which helped.’



This year, Channel 5 moved it’s flagship news programme from its 8.30pm

slot to 7pm, head-to-head with Channel 4. This decision came after

Channel 5 beat Channel 4 in the ratings war on a week in August. Channel

4 News currently averages 8 - 900,000 viewers a night while Channel 5’s

current performance is around 4 - 500,000, but Shaw is pretty confident

of repeating that one-off performance permanently.



’I think it’s no coincidence that, since our launch, every single major

news operation has undergone a complete re-think,’ he says. ’Before our

programme went on air, there was almost a perceived wisdom that you

couldn’t have a news programme that appealed to a youthful audience. The

thing I’m proudest of at 5 News is not that our figures are on the up

but that we have an incredibly youthful profile. Now that may mean that

we sacrifice volume, because that’s the way youth is, but we’ve proved

young people will watch a news programme if it is right for them.’



And Shaw is delighted with the new time slot. ’It seems to me that news

programmes become more sonorous as the evening progresses,’ he says.

’Our earlier time slot means we can continue to set our own agenda. We

run good solid stories but we appreciate that the earlier slot means we

can have more fun.’



HIGHLIGHTS

1990

Home and foreign news editor, Channel 4 News

1992

Programme editor, News at Ten

1995

Executive producer, ITN

1996

Editor, Channel 5 News



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