Full text of Nick Robinson's Steve Hewlett Memorial Lecture

Steve Hewlett
Image caption Steve Hewlett 1958-2017

Full text of the lecture as delivered at the Royal Television Society on 28 September 2017:

I am honoured to be asked to deliver this, the first annual Steve Hewlett memorial lecture.

Thank you to the RTS, the Media Society and to Rachel for inviting me to deliver it. It's great to have Steve's boys - Freddie, Billy, Bertie - here, his sister Sue and other members of the family too.

Steve's death was news - national news - which, had he been here to see it and to see you all gathered here for the first annual Steve Hewlett memorial lecture - would have produced one of those characteristically laconic Hewlett chuckles.

It was news, of course, because millions had grown used to turning up the car radio or stopping the ironing or waiting before turning on the kettle to make sure they not miss the latest weekly instalment of the Hewlett cancer chronicle - in which a middle aged man described the pain in his oesophagus; the splitting of his nails or chapping of his feet; the search for the drug or the treatment that might buy him some relief and some more time before the end which he sensed and we sensed was coming all too fast.

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Is 'guerrilla war' being waged on news broadcasters?

The words "fake news" typed on a vintage typewriter Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption How should the mainstream media tell the news in an increasingly fragmented world?

How should the BBC and other broadcasters respond to the changing media landscape including "guerrilla" attacks on social media? In an inaugural lecture to mark the contribution of the late Steve Hewlett to journalism, his friend and colleague Nick Robinson discusses the issue. Steve Hewlett, a BBC Radio 4 presenter and former Panorama editor, died this year from cancer. This is an edited version of that lecture.

News is too important to be reduced to a three-letter word.

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Nick Robinson: The dilemma of Remain voters

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Media captionSeven Remain voters discuss the choice they face in the UK general election on Radio 4's Today programme

In three weeks' time we will discover whether that referendum vote has dissolved the glue that bound voters to the party they have supported in the past.

That is what I have set out to examine in my Election Takeaways - a chat over a bite to eat with different groups of voters to discover what is on their minds and how they are going about deciding who, if anyone, to vote for.

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Nick Robinson: How will Leave voters vote?

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Media captionLeave voters explain to Today's Nick Robinson who they would like to see lead Britain out of Europe

When the campaigning is over, the leaders' buses have been parked and the votes counted, one question is sure to be asked: "What on earth did they mean by that?!"

Politicians, pollsters and pundits like me spend our lives trying to delve into the psyche of those curious folk who, unlike us, are not overgrown election trainspotters who spend hours studying politicians' speeches, analysing their manifestos and nerdily swapping election trivia.

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First meeting of BBC 'Survivors' Club'

  • 27 February 2016
  • From the section UK
Frank Gardner, Andrew Marr, George Alagiah and Nick Robinson Image copyright @FrankRGardner
Image caption Clockwise (L to R): Frank Gardner, Andrew Marr, George Alagiah and Nick Robinson

It began as a throwaway line in a diary column I wrote to mark my traumatic return to full-time work at the BBC.

Traumatic because my debut on BBC Radio 4's Today programme was memorable largely for the scratchy sound of a voice struggling to cope with the demands I was making of it, after it was damaged in an otherwise highly successful operation to remove a tumour.

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EU referendum: The view from Swindon

A boxing training class at Lydiard Millicent Village Hall

How does being in the EU affect me? What difference would it make to me and my life if we left?

Let's be honest, few of us have ever had to give much, if any, thought to these questions. The fact we are members of a club of 28 nations is something most people take as a given - like the weather. However, now they are beginning to be asked as people to ponder how to vote in the EU referendum.

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Three key EU referendum questions

Nick Robinson

I don't know enough to decide. That is the cry you hear again and again if you ask people how they'll vote in the referendum on the UK's membership of the EU. Even political trainspotters like me would be hard-pressed to spell out exactly what remaining in the EU or leaving it would mean.

That's why we are all on a shared journey in which we should not look to "experts" to deliver us the "facts".

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Osborne aims for 'new settlement'

George Osborne Image copyright PA

It was indeed a "big" Budget - just as the chancellor said it would be.

It was delivered by a politician with "big ambitions".

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George Osborne's 'big' Budget

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"Big. Very Big". That's how one well-placed insider responded when asked to describe the Budget.

It ought to be. After all, this is the first Conservative budget in almost 20 years. The last was delivered by Ken Clarke in 1996. It has to deliver promises repeated for so long but yet to be delivered, like the cut to inheritance tax.

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