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Series 2 - Episode 1

Four really good Radio 4 blogs

Friday 5 June 2009, 11:26

Steve Bowbrick Steve Bowbrick Head of Interactive, Radio 3

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Four Seasons

The Radio 4 blog isn't the only Radio 4 blog. Here are four more from around the network that I think are all exceptional examples of the blogger's art.

Eddie MairPM (RSS). If there's a natural blogger at the BBC it's Eddie Mair. He's comfortable with the informal tone and uneven pace of a blog. When journalists start blogging they'll often try to impose the kind of structure you get on a newspaper page or in a radio programme - with a predictable rhythm, thematic consistency and all that. Not on the PM blog. Here you'll find tiny, two-line updates, long photo-essays (like this one from Hugh Sykes), prompts for listener involvement and pithy two-paragraph entries spun-off from items on the programme. It's bright and often funny and has the feel of a newsroom (and there are kittens).

Robin Lustig, World TonightRobin Lustig/World Tonight (RSS). This is a hidden gem, not part of the BBC news mainstream but really good, regularly updated analysis from international veteran and World Tonight presenter Robin Lustig. Bookmark the blog or subscribe for several posts per week on topics like India's elections, Italy's lessons for British legislators and the Czech ratification of the Lisbon Treaty. I don't think there can be a more varied mix of clever international insight anywhere. This is my favourite Radio 4 blog.

Justin WebbJustin Webb's America (RSS). I'm stretching it a bit here. Credit where it's due: Webb's blog is from BBC News but I'm cheekily claiming its author for Radio 4 because of his regular appearances on the network and because he's joining Today in September. So sue me. What I like best about it is Webb's tone of voice - it's sufficiently different from his on-air manner to make this a really useful addendum to his other US coverage. Conversational and dry - mini-insights, not heavyweight analysis. Proper blogging from a news pro.

Rory Cellan-Jonesdot.life (RSS). I couldn't miss this one out. Rory Cellan-Jones isn't the only contributor to the technology blog from BBC News (Darren Waters is also a regular) but he is 'one of ours'. He makes regular appearances on Today and PM and he must be the most prolific blogger the network has (15 posts in May). Rory has moved from covering business to technology and by making clever use of the social media tech he covers (he's a big twitterer) he's become the BBC's 'go to' guy for digital and online. So the blog feels really up-to-date and responsive to change.

Honourable mentions: Tom Feilden's science blog (RSS) (one of the three Today blogs) complements his on-air stories usefully. PM sister programme iPM has a blog (RSS). It's a friendly place, animated by its users as much as its authors. Mark Urban, another voice familiar to Radio 4 listeners, has an excellent Newsnight blog (RSS) about world conflict.

Steve Bowbrick is editor of the Radio 4 blog

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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    Agree that Robin Lustig's blog is the best in the business. Why aren't there hugely expensive TV trailers plugging HIS show and blog ? Perhaps he doesn't need it, but I suspect he isn't seen as 'fashionable' enough.

    If only the BBC spent a tenth of the time 'on-air' plugging his blog as the PM blog [which is beginning to seem a bit 'over-hyped' to be honest] there might some justice.

    Justin Webb's blog is very good, but he can't hold a candle to Lustig, and he does have an annoying habit of spending more of his text linking to other sites than not linking, if you catch my drift. By the way, did he mention he's got a book out ?...

    Rory Cellan-Jones. Hmmmm.. - Okay, he is 'good', but surely the whole point of a journalist is 'sceptical enquiry'. RC-J panders far too much to the 'bells and whistles' and is it cool/hip/trendy [insert other vapid neologism to taste..] rather than answering the key questions..

    1/ Does it actually work.
    2/ Does the work actually add any value ?

    That said, his rant at 'phorm' was great - more of this kind of cynical approach, and the odd 'raspberry' where companies are just bandwagon jumping to con the 'early adopters' would be very welcome.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Oh, and can we pleeeeeeaaazzzeee stop using ridiculous Americanised phrases like "'go to' guy" ?? What does it even mean ??

    Is it an endorsement ?? Or is it like the only person in the office who can fix the printer because 'information is power' and he wants to keep the aura and mystique of being a 'techie' by not sharing this knowledge with anyone else ?

    Of course I'm guilty of this sin of using hideous words and phrases occasionally, but when it is on the BBC they gain a credibility they don't deserve and the meme spreads further.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Please I would like for your team to put another

    feedback on the redesign. Thanks

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Monday 8th June 2009. 8.00pm till midnight. Alcohol. Ian Blair. A bit of psychology, some politics and much more. What a great run of programmes, one after the other. Radio 4 at its best.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    So what about the R4 web design blog, eh, Bowbrick? All the hundreds of messages you got showing how unpopular the design is - particlarly the pictures - and you have just erased them from the archive? Not very honest or responsive, is it? Shame on you, Sir.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    @stevioa I know that the way the blog is organised doesn't make it particularly easy to find them but all those messages really are still there! You'll find them all here, attached to ten different blog posts by three authors over about two months of activity.

    And, as a matter of record, you should know that blog comments will never be removed unless they break the house rules and that in the three months I've been editor I've asked for no more than four comments to be removed. In all cases the messages were either wildly off-topic or spam.

    I'm going to put a link to the posts discussing the redesign in the right-hand navigation to make them easier to find. In the meantime, bookmark this blog category for an up-to-date list of posts about the redesign.

    I hope you'll find that both honest and responsive!

    Steve Bowbrick, editor, Radio 4 blog

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    Very well. Mister. Now deal with the substance at issue: the huge photos:


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