BBC BLOGS - The Editors
« Previous | Main | Next »

Extreme World

Post categories:

Craig Oliver Craig Oliver | 08:53 UK time, Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Inspiration can come from unlikely places. I was recently reviewing a report from one of the BBC’s best journalists, Lyse Doucet in Afghanistan. In a remote and hostile location, she told the story of an expectant mother and the desperate attempts by pitifully resourced medical staff to save her unborn child. “This,” she said without exaggeration, “is the worst place in the world to give birth.” It was an intensely moving piece and it got me thinking: if parts of Afghanistan are the worst place in the world to have a child, where is the best? And where is my family’s experience on that scale?

Extreme World branding

 

This was the starting point for a new initiative at BBC World Service, BBC World News and the BBC News website: Extreme World. It's not a season of programmes, but a themed approach to some editorial content, using the idea of extremes as a way of seeing the world and understanding our place in it. What is life like in the hottest place on earth and, conversely, the coldest? What about issues such as crime and corruption?

The more we explored issues in this way, the more interesting it became - and sometimes surprising. When researching death and dying, for example, some of our perceptions were given interesting new contexts. Dying in a developed country, for example, might give you access to better medical care, but hospitals, hospices and care homes can leave people remote from their loved ones and sometimes completely alone. Poorer countries may have a lack of medical facilities, but the role of the community and family in a remote village in sub-Saharan Africa make a solitary death far less likely.

A theme allows us to play to the different strengths of radio, television and online and to ensure they complement each other. A listener might hear a piece of on-the-scene reporting on the World Service followed by an invitation to go online and explore the data around the story - particularly how their own country, which may well not be at the extremes, fits into the global picture.

The label is a vital part of the process. We hope that regular users of our services pick up the baggage of the season over time and make links they would otherwise have been invisible. We hope that it will offer a fresh way of looking at subjects which might otherwise get lost in the blizzard of 21st-Century media.

Extreme World promises to be an exciting and intriguing collection of content that will continue to take shape over the coming months, providing our reporters with fresh angles and perspectives and offering audiences a range and depth of compelling reports on TV, on radio and online.

Craig Oliver is the controller of English at BBC Global News.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 3.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 6.

    Hello

    I always find the blog interesting to understand the source of news and the interpretions put on it. I was wondering about the relevance of blogs and their role in generating news. For example Guido Fawkes runs all sorts of stories surrounding political intrigue and gossip and a very small blog I recently came across - gingerfightback - although hilarious runs fantastical stories about the events of the day.

    My question is this do these blogs determine the news events in some way or are they merely tools for fun/catty remarks/ridicule.

    People's views?

  • Comment number 7.

    May I ask if a moderator decides to remove a post for breaking the house rules then the reason for the decision is given? 'Off topic' surely is a subjective not objective assessment of what is written?

    I echo this question

    Do these blogs determine the news events in some way or are they merely tools for fun/catty remarks/ridicule.

  • Comment number 8.

    Some of us have been to Afghanistan, in my case for years. Some of us have met "one of the BBC’s best journalists, Lyse Doucet" more than once and been less than inspired by the experience. Moderation forbids any further description. Yet again, a story bent by tunnel vision, a pander to the expectations of the audience. Terry Pratchett was right on the nail when he said the public doesn't want "news", it want "olds" - all the things it expects, fulfillment of all available stereotypes. And if that's want you want, the Exocet's your lass. Yes, child mortality is horrific in Afghanistan - it is all over the developing world. Yes, childbirth (not something that's ever bothered Our Lyse) is a risky business. But when "my" Afghan lass had her babe (she was a Hazara refugee I was supporting, the babe wasn't mine) she had two midwives and a whole proxy family in support (OK, I paid - it must have been all of 20 dollars) and Nur must now be around 18 and, I hope, taking jolly pot-shots at Beeb reporters. As always, the Beeb chooses the story before "reporting" it. Doucet is famed for her set-ups from Gaza to Mazar. But that's news-gathering these days, isn't it - ever since you started paying the Irish to riot for the cameras all those decades ago, stirring up the conflict for ratings, you've been at it, Beeb, irregardless of the consequences.

  • Comment number 9.

    Having knocked around many blogs on the Web for the past decade my answers to the above questions:

    Do these blogs determine the news events in some way? No

    The only importance they hold is in the eyes of the people that post comments.

    Are they merely tools for fun/catty remarks/ridicule? Yes

    “A very small blog I recently came across - gingerfightback - although hilarious runs fantastical stories about the events of the day.” #6

    Let’s just say that humour is subjective. A good example of why many blogs amuse no-one except their author; and that wouldn’t be you in this case perchance Gingerflash? The names are very similar and you’ve mentioned it on each comment you’ve posted.

  • Comment number 10.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 11.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 12.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 13.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 14.

    When one is witness to injustices in the world or to gross disparities, one begins to think even more deeply of what one can do to redress the problems. Seasoned journalists often see stark realities and it is their duty to bring these depressing state of affairs to the attention of the public.

  • Comment number 15.

    Inspiration can come from any source: compelling situations and their impact often determine the journalist's response. In-depth reporting in particular with close attention to detail is the BBC's strength. Lyse Doucet is an accomplished BBC journalist with her facts at her finger tips. Her reporting has always been compelling and authentic. It is sad that some readers fail to understand the risks she takes to bring heart-rendering stories to their attention; If we had more journalists of her calibre in different parts of the world, we would have a much more accurate picture of the ills of society. She deserves high commendation for her sterling reports. The series bringing compelling stories to the attention of the viewer should be welcomed. Educative programmes with the human touch are what the audience wants and needs.

  • Comment number 16.

    Inspiration can come from very unlikely places.
    First, let me agree with you that Lyse Doucet is a fine journalist, and the reporting world could use several more just like her.
    I would rather stayed with lise Doucet on the worst place in the world to give birth because this is an issue that most people, including me, would never have thought about. The most natural thing in the world (birth) thwarted and made terrifying by the most unnutural thing in the world (a lack of medicine, bomds, a remote and hostile location).
    Even in skeleton format, the situation moved me, tore at my heart, and I found myself wondering did the mother survive? Did her baby survive?.
    This was the starting point for a new initiative at BBC World Service, Extreme World:
    I like the proposition - the hottest place to live, the coldest, the most autere, the most corrupted, the most embattled...
    Dying in a developed country is very sanitized - removed as far as possible from life. The developed world does not want to deal with death and dying. Just the prospect traumtizes some people; they fight to remove the concept from their minds. Yet death and birth are two sides of the same coin. From the day we are born, we are preparing for death - though most people would not look at it that way, don't want to look at it that way.
    In underdeveloped countries death is more a natural ending of life - like the seasons turning. I would like to know more about the thoughts of the community and family in a remote village, say in the sub-Saharan Africa. What is their view of death and dying?
    I feel that your proposition is one that I would want to take on, participate in - World Service, followed by an invitation to go online and explore the data around the story - particularly how their own country, which may well not be at the extremes, fits into the global picture.
    Thanks for thinking this up; I'm sure it will open my eyes to new angles, new thoughts, and there is nothing this world needs more than an extension of consciousness because when it comes right down to it, we are all ONE.

  • Comment number 17.

    The questions of extremes both the worst and the best is a question of evaluation and in the case of child mortality a key indicator set out in the human development index, HDI, used by UN Development Programme.

    It was set out with a group of Economist including Amartya Sen Haq and Lord Desai in order to bring to light the unreliability of GNP of countries to that of human development.

    HDI are some of the tools that are used to determine the worst place for child mortality for illiteracy, extreme lack of shelter, of water, lack of women voters and other inequities. These are the measuring indicators to determine extremes in human development around the world.

    It is true wars are one factor that impacts dreadfully on child mortality i.e. that survival of those less than 5 years of age. Witnessing the full suffering of women who must live with this is perhaps the most harrowing experience of all. I champion any journalist like that of Lyse Doucet in Afghanistan to bring this to the world’s attention.

    I myself have had to work in many slums and conflict areas around the world and it has caused me great distress to see the suffering of the worst places in the world to give birth.

    Tragically there are many worst places in the world to give birth and one of these has been the villages outside the city of Bo in Sierra Leone. I was there working with the women and asked them to take me to their birth house which had an empty red cross box with nothing in it.

    I gave birth at home in Wales with a midwife and doctor on NHS.so I consider this one of the best places to give birth and will be forever grateful. Yet reality check as these women in Sierra Leone for 270 child deaths per 1000 ...which means every woman you look in the eyes has experienced at least the loss of one child. That is a lot of sadness.

    Yet the worst of anything and the best of everything is why we all know something of compassion for others, Media is one of the most effective ways to awaken our sense of responsibility to others and to cherish our precious human life. So I believe this is fantastic idea and I wish you, BBC best for the Extreme World.

  • Comment number 18.

    Quote:" In a remote and hostile location, she told the story of an expectant mother and the desperate attempts by pitifully resourced medical staff to save her unborn child." Unquote
    Cliche-ridden, I fear. How do we know that anything more was needed than the resources there? What made the attempts "desperate"? How do we know that the unborn child needed saving (as opposed to birthing)?

    Bad start, I'm afraid. Reporting is better when it sticks to facts not merely emotional statements.

  • Comment number 19.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 20.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 21.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 22.

    Really an excellent initiative and I'm looking forward to it! Hopefully BBC will provide a 'factsheet' for each of the countries they cover.

  • Comment number 23.

    Pancha Chandra no. 15,

    I can't agree with you. I have a similar take to AlfD1234. Many of the "human interest" stories that the BBC bombards us with are simply distractions from the BBC's apparent inability to bring us informed background to the news. Lyse Doucet concentrates on these stories but I'm not sure why this should be regarded as praiseworthy.

    The BBC should not be patting itself on the collective back about its journalism. It should rather be evaluating why it arouses so much opposition and antagonism. The reason is simple: BBC journalists approach any subject with a preconceived agenda and with their minds made up - to the extent that we can write their stories for them. We know, to a fair degree of accuracy, what the BBC is going to tell us (and what it is going to omit to tell us) before it does. We know the spin it is going to put on the news.

    It is high time that the BBC undergoes drastic reform.

  • Comment number 24.

    Pancha Chandra no. 15,

    The BBC should not be patting itself on the collective back about its journalism. It should rather be evaluating why it arouses so much opposition and antagonism."
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    And why it wins so much worldwide praise compared to any other news source.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The reason is simple: BBC journalists approach any subject with a preconceived agenda and with their minds made up - to the extent that we can write their stories for them. We know, to a fair degree of accuracy, what the BBC is going to tell us (and what it is going to omit to tell us) before it does. We know the spin it is going to put on the news.
    =-----------------------------------------------------------------------

    The reason is that the BBC tells stories others do not want to hear and governments, establishment figures the far right and far left beleive news should be tailored to suit national interests, as perceived by the elite group.

    And others believe that the poor, dispoossessed and powerless should not be in the news at all.

    This is the Joe Stalin brand of journalism and the BBC has with considerable skill avoided it.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------


    It is high time that the BBC undergoes drastic reform.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    To make it more like Pravda or Fox, ie have no real news values.

  • Comment number 25.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 26.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 27.

    I'm living in Cape Town a place of big extremes between the haves and the have-nots. with one of the highest rates of HIV. What happens after you give birth ? Just spent time today with Pastor John and homeless street people here. One of whom was Vuya who is 16 and sleeps under a bridge by the motorway with her younger sister. The poverty here is grindingly painful. We have to nake some difference. I am here as a volunteer on a HIV project. Michaela

  • Comment number 28.

    Craig, I think this is an excellent initiative by the BBC and think the diversity of perspectives it brings will be quite rewarding for the public.

    I have to agree with AlfD1234 (#18) though - the content is going to get pretty sickening with the use of over-elaborate language and excessive use of cliches. If the BBC sticks to gathering the Extreme World content and presenting it in solid journalistic style (i.e. minus the gooey fluff) you'll certainly have a winner here.

    @Michaela ODriscoll (#27) - South Africa is definitely a country of extremes and I do hope Extreme World covers some of it. Besides owning one of the highest Gini coefficients globally, the crime rate in South Africa is also one of the highest in the world. If anything, given the likes of the recent murder of a foreign tourist, Anni Dewani in Cape Town recently, the value of life also appears to be at an all-time low there. Extremes all around, and I haven't even touched on the HIV rates.

  • Comment number 29.

    Having just returned from a stint photographing at the Commonwealth Games in India I have to say I am very excited about the Extreme World concept. I have no doubt eccentric India with its extremes of rich and poor, and even the climate will have to feature at some point.

    Another country that should probably make the cut is Somalia. BBC's Andrew Harding was there recently and his blog entries on Mogadishu already made one feel like it was part of the Extreme World series!

    Looking forward to the content!
    Oli

  • Comment number 30.

    I didn't know where to put this; so forgive me for very likely putting it in the wrong spot.
    I've been thinking about that shark attack - 5 tourists attacked by sharks and one killed off Egypt's Red Sea coast, a vacation area.
    I've never heard of a shark attack in this area. What was a shark(s) doing there?
    The Egyptian government must be puzzled too because it has brought in experts from around the world to help solve the mystery.
    So far no one has arrived at a definitive conclusion, but there are proposed explanations
    1. over fishing in the Red Sea,
    2. excess of resorts along the coast, and
    3. the effects of climate change.
    Personally, I think these are all hogwash!
    Reading Egyptian Newspapers, I read about a diving specialist named "Captain Mustafa Ismael, a famous diver in Sharm El Sheikh". He said that the sharks involved in the attack are OCEAN SHARKS and do not live in Egypt's waters.
    When asked by the anchor-person how the shark entered Sharm El Sheikh, he literally burst out, "No, the question is who let them in?"
    Why would sharks travel 4000 km and not attack anyone until they entered Sinai? Amazing sharks!
    Could this have been part of a plot to wound Egyptian tourism, or even revenge for a biased election? Tourism in Egypt is a mainstay of the economy and a pivotal provider of employment opportunities.
    So I'm really wondering : "Who let the sharks in!"

  • Comment number 31.

    Extreme World... it sure sounds like it'll be more interesting than reading editor blog updates about the BBC weather site.. LOL. Seriously though looking forward to the content - sounds more engaging than some of the usual drivel.

  • Comment number 32.

    Having given birth to my second living child on the AmerIndian reservation I was born and raised on, I can attest to the fact that the health care services there are not always the best, as typified by the fact that our local hospital was nicknamed by tribal members and their families" The Ghost Factory" due to so many people dying there. Advances in medicine have made it better, but people still do not survive the ride to the hospital at times due to trauma or homicide attempts, as was the case with our late grandmother , who was poisoned, or my son and I as a pregnant woman,who was also poisoned at my baby shower by a group of people who were coerced and threatened to do so, and compounded by my physician who left during labor leaving me in the hands of a stranger who did not do a C section to deliver my son or a blood test to determine that I had been poisoned with strychnine which is why I went into early labor, resulting in my son being in fetal distress by the time I got to the hospital in labor,even though a relative of the persons who poisoned me administered an antidote, otherwise I would have died within three hours. So for normal, uncomplicated pregnancies and deliveries where there are no attempts on the lives of the participants, natural methods are okay, otherwise advanced medicine is needed.
    I am concerned that unless the Queen uses her power to veto the recent legislation passed by Parliment, that the rioting and attacks on royalty and the government will continue to be evidenced in Britain. It seems pretty insensitive to the financial situation of the world in general, and to students and their families in particular, that tuition prices are being raised,when the ability to work and pay the debt after graduation is less. If Britain were a third world country, that would mean that people graduating from college would be graduating with more debts to pay and possibly have to quit school sooner to work due to the amount of debt, resulting in them not being as prepared to work due to not being able to afford to take the advanced classes needed to be current in their field or competitive. Whole segments of services in our international societies could become " ghost factories" due to not having the training needed to do their jobs well and keep people alive, and students could be in debt most of their lives just to pay for their education. I am not discounting the story of the woman who made it with a midwife, but her midwife had to be able to train with someone to recognize what goes on in births and be able to deal with breech births and repositioning the baby and what to do to deal with the cord wrapped around the baby's neck, and they had to be able to take time off from their other duties as women to be able to learn these things, so there was a shift of work to someone else while they are in school, so whether it is a financial debt or gratitude to someone for taking their place, there is always a cost for advancing one's knowledge that needs to be addressed and supported by society recognizing that these specialized skill are needed for the advancement and good of the whole, and support them as a community, not a personal debt, that the community is willing to undertake.

  • Comment number 33.

    I waited for over an hour and my comment was not posted, so in the meantime I thought that the topic of Extreme Worlds was appropriate and did not have to mean that a location was remote or without services to demonstrate the severity of abuse of human rights that exists, due to racism or prejudice. On the reservation I come from, such abuse comes from nonIndians as well as AmerIndians intent on destroying each other or their famiies to get the few employment opportunities there without the requisite education, or getting the chance to get an education and be employed. My grandmother's death, which was not initially ruled a homicide or suspicious by the medical system, was relabeled after her corpse was robbed from her grave by a group of necrophiliacs, thirty plus years after her death, and used as a means to try to establish the right to her property as an enrolled member of her tribe, and the persons who robbed her grave did so within visual sight of the Tribal casino,which they tried to get into posing as tribal members but failed due to not being Native Americans,but Scandinavians and Germans who thought they could fool tribal members by assaulting them to get in, thinking there was an admission fee when there wasn't,when all that there was was a cost to gamble. The necropsy after recovering her corpse revealed that she had extremely high levels of arsenic in her system,ten times what persons exposed to smelter operations in the Pacific NW have, so her cause of death was relisted preliminarily as due to agricultural chemicals poisoning and added to all the other unsolved crimes of missing and murdered people on our reservation.
    There is so much jealousy of the fact that we as AmerIndians have treaty rights and health care services established under the Indian Health Service that they never stop to consider that the services are underfunded, and in some cases, forced to use more expensive contract services at nonIndian providers due to not having a large enough population to justify the expense for the service as an Indian Health Service or tribal service funded line item so that it can be provided, So in some cases tribal members go without hospitalization services as there is no money in the budget for said services unless there is an emergency situation. Too many emergencies in one year and a tribe's contract care budget can be exhausted meaning there are no hospitalization services allowed for anything that can be delayed, for tribes which do not have their own hospital as part of their service unit's health care services to their region. Also tribal members and their family members are required to apply for Medicaid and be turned down before they can use contract care, even though Medicaid is not a treaty right but covers the medically indigent and is demeaning as the State then has a list of everything the victim owns to beable to somehow seize it to pay for services. " The Ghost Factory and a policy of extinction of our tribes by continually whittling away at the funding base and being unwilling to have taxpayers pay for the services guaranteed under our treaties with the United States to us, has forced tribes to develop casinos to pay for human services as an addition to other tribal income. If you ask people whether or not they thought government operated gambling would be a way to provide income to government to pay for what taxpayers aren't paying for anymore, most would not have dreamed it. But it is the reality of our lives now, and in the case of my grandmother's death and abuse of her corpse in the name of trying to get free health care services and income from tribal casinos, just one of the many examples of the extremes to which people are willing to go to get something that belongs to other people converted into theirs. I think the men involved should be institutionalized in the Federal penitentiary system where they can get all the free health care they want at the expense of the US government, so that their lack of it for not being tribal members can be satisified, and that the US government should start a national lottery like the UK, so it can have income from gaming to be able to pay for its prison system, so their need to have income from gaming will be solved. That is just my solution for satisfying the extremes in a way which protects other families from being abused the way our family was, whether living or not, by jealous predators.

 

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.