George Negus tells current affairs: "Take a look at yourself"

SBS Dateline host George Negus is often quoted by press on his views of other television current affairs shows. And it's rarely complimentary.

With such a stellar track record in current affairs, Negus is well-placed to put some perspective on the state of the industry. He remains unflinching in his views.

"I've been around long enough to feel as though I'm qualified to make the odd comment," he says. "My perspective is probably broader and I'd like to think as deep as most people's. I've done nothing but national current affairs since the day I walked into a television studio in 1975.

"I know it's 'Oh Christ here he goes again'," he concedes. "But I think for people who look critically at other people's existence it's not a bad idea occasionally if they took a look at their own. And that applies to current affairs journalists."

Negus declined to name the shows he thinks are dragging their feet on quality journalism, but by the sound of things there are several candidates he has in mind.

"Surely we couldn't look at the quality of some programs in this country which shall remain nameless and think everything's fine in the state of current affairs? We'd have to be kidding ourselves if we thought that.

"If people don't like the comments too bad. Take a look at yourself."

Dateline notches up 25 years of covering international affairs on SBS this month. Negus points to the show's video journalists as integral to its stories. They have helped the show win Walkley Awards, Logies and United Nations Media Peace Awards. Negus says the accolades are an acknowledgement by the profession and the market of the quality of the show.

Since hosting the show in 2005 Negus has conducted what he says are the best television interviews he has ever done, with world leaders and heavyweights in political, social and economic circles.

"I came to Dateline unexpectedly and I'm delighted that it happened. It's not television for its own sake. Whether it's what I do, the VJs do or the really talented producers, editors and researchers do, it's not television for the sake of it."

"The packages just keep getting better and better. The VJs over the years have just improved their quality out of sight," he says.

Dateline airs 8:30pm Sundays on SBS ONE.

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