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The Reith lectures are underway on-air

Wednesday 10 June 2009, 10:10

Mark Damazer Mark Damazer

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Reith Chairs

We have played with the format just a bit - by beginning each lecture with a quick chat between Sue Lawley (presenter) and lecturer (Professor Michael Sandel). We also had more members of the public and students than in previous years (where the audience has been largely invited). And in recent years the public response comes in more forms. This year Twitter has arrived to add to the ferment. And fascinating too. Professor Sandel seems to have struck a chord with the twitterers .

The recording sessions are one of the highlights of a Radio 4 year. The last one was recorded in Washington last week (for transmission on 30 June with a repeat on 4 July) at George Washington University - and again a terrific turnout of academics, senior American journalists (Tom Friedman of the New York Times and EJ Dionne of the Washington Post) and expats. Let me know what you think...

Mark Damazer is Controller of Radio 4

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    Comment number 1.

    Why can we not discuss the Reith Lectures on 'The Choice is Yours' message board of BBC Radio 4, Mark? Is the choice ours, or somebody else's? If so, why not clarify the situation?

    Does Radio 4 wish to encourage serious discussion online, or is it simply window dressing for a Corporation which is too paralysed to address the great issues of the third millennium CE?

    What example do you think that such censorship is setting for future generations? What sort of world do you wish to leave for your children? On D-Day +6, we continue the fight for freedom in the twenty-first century!

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    I enjoyed listening to this lecture. I was concerned at first that Professor Sandel would stick with the vague and the unspecific, but he soon give clear examples to back up his arguments.

    The research he cited about blood was fascinating: the method by which blood is obtained in UK (donated) provides for a better service than in the USA (where people are paid). I also found his argument against the merits of carbon trading and refuge trading (for want of a better term) compelling: the intrinsic right or wrong of an action is displaced by a monetary value. Rich nations keep consuming more and more (but plant trees somewhere) and poor nations accept money from richer nations to take in their share of refugees.

    On the question of paying children to read books, however, I think he should have done more to differintiate between pupils. This is an idea that might encourage children from certain backgrounds to read books who would not otherwise do so. Of course, reading for intrinsic pleasure is to be preferred, but in many cases children do require a fillip.

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    Comment number 3.

    And filling half my screen with a picture of empty chairs enriches me .....how?

    Significant and relevant because people SIT to listen to the Reith lectures?

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    ooergosh They don't just sit, they sit on those very chairs. The pic shows the interior of Rhodes House, Oxford before the audience arrived for the recording of the second Reith Lecture on 21 May. It's from the Reith 2009 photostream on flickr - pics taken by members of the Reith production team.

    It's significant and relevant in the way that illustrations very often are. Too oblique? Maybe. Evocative of the lecture's setting? Definitely.

    Steve Bowbrick, editor, Tadio 4 blog

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    Comment number 5.

    Oooooh how exciting. "Those very chairs."

    Beg to differ sir. It could be any set of chairs in any hall anywhere. We don't even get a sense of looking forward expectantly.

    Perhaps if it had shown some of the very beautiful interior of Rhodes House as well, or its impressive exterior, it would have been more interesting. Sorry, I think you're just trying to find things for your picture team to do whilst they complete their (hopefully short term) contracts.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    @ooergosh Feel obliged to point out that the blog's 'picture team' is me and that since my picture budget is zero, obtaining a picture of the interior of Rhodes House that I could use at no cost might have been hard (although now that I look, I see there are 57 pictures of Rhodes House on flickr that could be used at no cost). Still, I like the chairs.

    Steve Bowbrick, editor, Radio 4 blog


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Find out about this year's panel and theme