Evan Davis: Newsnight job provokes mixed reaction

Jul 21, 2014

'Outstanding journalist' Evan Davis will replace Paxman – but should the BBC have hired a woman?

Frantzesco Kangaris/Getty Images

Evan Davis will replace Jeremy Paxman on the BBC's Newsnight programme, it was revealed today.

The decision came as "a surprise to many", says the Radio Times, after widespread speculation that the job would be awarded to Newsnight's chief reporter and rising star Laura Kuenssberg. Occasional Newsnight presenter and radio journalist Eddie Mair was another firm favourite.

Davis will leave his current position as presenter on BBC Radio 4's Today programme and is expected to start his new job in the autumn. He is also a presenter of Dragon's Den and The Bottom Line, a Radio 4 business show.

He told the BBC that he was "terribly sad" to be leaving the Today programme, but relished the idea of following in the footsteps of "some of the best television presenters in the business" in what would be a "new adventure and challenge".

Davis was described as an "outstanding journalist and an extraordinarily clever and intelligent interviewer" by BBC director general Tony Hall.

"I think he has a wonderful presence on TV and I have no doubt he will be a really great presenter of Newsnight," Hall said.

Newsnight editor Ian Katz also expressed his support for Davis saying he brings a "rare combination of curiosity, intelligence and mischief to his broadcasting", the Media Blog reports.

Others pointed out that with his background as the BBC's former economics editor, Davis would bring his financial expertise to the programme.

But critics cited his appointment as further evidence of the BBC's "left-wing bias", with the Spectator blog saying it was "hardly a controversial choice for the increasingly lefty show".

The news came on the same morning a review of the corporation by the BBC Trust ordered management to tackle a continued "gender imbalance" among its presenters, The Guardian reports. Opponents soon took to Twitter to highlight the irony that BBC failed to hire a female presenter as Paxman's replacement.

Sign up for our daily newsletter