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BBC on a bus and box road trip

Rome Hartman | 10:12 UK time, Friday, 12 September 2008

This must be the week for the BBC to paint its logo on very large objects and send them off on ambitious journeys. You've already heard from Jeremy Hillman about 'The BBC Box,' a shipping container that will be used as a very creative way of illustrating global commerce over the next twelve months. The box was loaded onto a container ship in Southampton on Monday. It has now left the port of Greenock near Glasgow and is heading for China with Scotch whisky as its first payload.

BBC BoxThe 'BBC Elections Bus' has also been sent on a 38 day journey across America, beginning in Los Angeles and ending in New York's Times Square. The bus is a project spearheaded by the BBC World Service, and includes journalists from every corner of the organisation: radio, language service, TV, and online.

I'm personally most looking forward to following what happens on the bus on the BBC News website. Two online journalists will be full-time bus riders; Jon Kelly will be blogging continuously throughout the journey, while Jennifer Copestake, a member of my World News America team, will be keeping a video diary of the trip.

BBC BusWhat's the point of the BBC Bus? It is NOT to follow the presidential candidates or chronicle the 'who's up, who's down" horserace aspects of the contest for the White House. It IS to find out what's on the minds of Americans in all parts of this huge country during a historic election season; to see what issues matter most to citizens of Truth or Consequences, New gauge the real impact of the economic slump and housing crisis on families in Oxford, find out how people in the 'oil patch' of Texas are coping with - or profiting from - higher oil prices.

It's going to be a fascinating trip, so jump aboard.

NB. Thanks to those sharp eyes that noticed I spelt whisky the American way - 'whiskey' - mistake now corrected.


  • Comment number 1.

    Is it just me or is anyone else heartily sick of the, apparently, endless American election process?

    I understand that what happens in America affects the rest of us, particularly economically but there has to be a limit to how much of it is reported. Especially when it seems to take a higher priority than National or European news.

    Now we find that the licence payer is funding a lengthy bus trip around the USA in order to provide even more 'news' on the topic.

    Please BBC, learn when enough is enough!

  • Comment number 2.

    Scotch whiskey


  • Comment number 3.

    Scotch whiskEy? It doesn't exist.

    Scotch Whisky is the more likely cargo.

  • Comment number 4.

    I thought the report stated that the whisky was loaded at Greenock

  • Comment number 5.

    You have an error in your article. The box wasn't "loaded onto a container ship in Southampton on Monday."
    It went by road to Glasgow last Tuesday and is still in Glasgow.

  • Comment number 6.

    Now we find that the licence payer is funding a lengthy bus trip around the USA in order to provide even more 'news' on the topic.

    I'd imagine this would be paid for by BBC Worldwide (ie advertisers), rather than the licence fee.

  • Comment number 7.

    I'd imagine this would be paid for by BBC Worldwide (ie advertisers), rather than the licence fee.


    I don't care how it's paid for, I don't see the point, they can get all the news they need from existing sources.

  • Comment number 8.

    Yes, according to your map, the box was in Greenock at 12:35 today. Certainly not 'having left Greenock yesterday for China'.

    Did you forget to check the map? Or has your GPS positioning thingy fallen off the box?

  • Comment number 9.

    Please, please, please can we have some clarification about how the fuel costs of this bus are being met as I'd imagine they're going to be hughe. If they're being met with the advertising money then that's fine.

  • Comment number 10.

    Scotch whisky but Irish whiskey, that's what my old chief sub taught me.

  • Comment number 11.

    #9. The fuel costs, especially in the US where gas is just 4 dollars a gallon, will be minsicule compared to the salaries of BBC1 newsreaders.

  • Comment number 12.

    I am very proud of the BBC, that it is doing "advertisements" in unorthodox ways.

  • Comment number 13.

    The container didn't go to Scotland by ship, but by land (probably road) transport. It's on a ship now though.

  • Comment number 14.

    A brilliant way to portray citizens of a great country. In the final analysis American citizens will decide what sort of government they wish to have. We can only hope they use their votes wisely! America is a great nation;its great leaders like Roosevelt and JFKennedy were inspirational. So this container is on a very special mission of searching for quintessential information on the citizens of a very proud nation. It is bound to be fascinating and very revealing. We the readers are waiting for sensational disclosures!

  • Comment number 15.

    I think World Service is funded entirely by advertising and grant-in-aid voted by the Parliament...right?

    Our country is certainly very glad to welcome the BBC Bus on its trip across our nation; I hope America treats you with respect and hospitality, and I'm sure we are honored by the immense attention being given our little electoral ritual by the eyes of the world.

    The BBC Box is an interesting concept: globalization is a real challenge for college students to grasp--it would be great if the BBC were to eventually collaborate with a publisher to put out some educational material from the experiences with the Box.

  • Comment number 16.

    If you MUST follow the progress of a steel box around the globe, why not just ask one of the many shipping companies? I'm fairly sure they'd e able to give you a detailed itinerary of any one one of their millions of containers over the last 12 months, instead of spending license fee money (MY money!) on such a pointless enterprise...

  • Comment number 17.


  • Comment number 18.

    the big red box

    the box started out from SOUTHAMTON went by train (empty) to scotland, it was then loaded with whisky then put on a boat which went to belfast then popped in to dublin on its way down south via the irish sea, then the boat "vega stockholm" went to SOUTHAMTON where it is currently moored at this time.
    so my question is ....why not send the whisky down south on the train?
    a search on 'shipais' will tell you where the boat is

  • Comment number 19.

    Are there any plans to have a User-Generated "Container Comments" page?

    I'm thinking of a page where users can post comments about route, cargo or even sightings, and maybe exchange stories about the container ship-world or globalisation in general. That should start the sort of widespread discussion the BBC hopes to raise via this project.

  • Comment number 20.

    For those who seemingly haven't followed the box experiment fully, the container travelled to Greenock on a freight train!

    As for the bus, most of the BBC America related items are funded by the commerial arm of the beeb I believe (ads on the website and their channels etc).

  • Comment number 21.

    Hey guys (The Editors),

    Glad you were able to avoid that strike issue with the board.

    Anyway. BBC America licenses out all the BBC material in the fattest syndication market in the universe, and because "BBC America" is registered in the State of Delaware (Sen. Biden's State), no one in Great Britain or at the BBC can find out the fiduciary details of how YOUR OWN work is exploited or sold or resold in the U.S. Additionally, there's no easy way to find out if employees and "talent" at the BBC or who have worked on BBC shows are owed residual payments from the huge fortune the BBC library generates in the U.S. Why? Ask Biden. The State of Delaware is allowed for some crazy reason to have a unique business registration non-disclosure policy, so whereas if "BBC America" was registered in any of the other 49 States, British citizens could request "public financial disclosures" related to their OWN "Public" broadcast corporation... in Delaware the only information available is the contract info (a number for a law firm, in "BBC Americas" case, a firm in Houston, Texas).

    If this annoys Britons (as I expect it does), well, it annoys Americans who live in the other 49 States as well, as we have to deal with Delaware registered Corporations operating in our States without complying with our financial disclosure laws.

    Oh. For The Editors. Given the current meltdown of the U.S. financial markets, and the generally low intelligence of American producers assigned to the Campaign, you should call up the BBC election bus and get them to grill Senator Biden over how a guy from the channel islands of the U.S. has much credibility regarding financial regulation or control. I'd really really love to see the BBC scoop the U.S. press vis a vis a US election scandal ("Senator Biden, did you know that employees of the BBC can't find details regarding OUR OWN work sold in America? Why should anyone in the World believe that a Senator from Delaware is remotely concerned with fiscal transparency or anti-corruption efforts related to the banking sector? Isn't it true you're perhaps the LEAST qualified to handle this crises? LOL")

    Keep hitting 'em where they ain't...

    A. Scott Crawford


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