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Don't hate us for talking about Britney

Richard Bowen | 17:11 UK time, Tuesday, 20 February 2007

Britney Spears shaving her headFor those who didn't hear last night's show, or haven't read last nights blog, it's fair to say we received quite a bit of criticism for devoting part of our show to the pop star Britney Spears. Before I explain why we decided to do the item here's a selection of what people said...

...Why does the BBC World Service dumb down so much to have a phone-in about a pop star?

Wrote Silas Sutcliffe from London.

Oops, they do it as well! Even the BBC World Service lowers the standards.

Thought Philippe Van de Velde from Belgium.

And this one from Kerry Franklin:

I am disappointed that a reputable news programme has dedicated any time to a story on Britney Spears. Even if listeners wrote in to say they wanted to discuss this topic, your producers should draw the line.

If I can address Kerry's point first. The whole ethos of World Have Your Say is to discuss what people are talking about. This is something at the heart of what we do and while we may get this wrong on occasion, in the case of Britney we got it totally right.

Not only was hers the most-read story on the BBC news website for three days running, it was a Google News top story, one of the most blogged-about stories that day and was broadcast/published in some form by virtually all of the world's most "reputable" news organisations. There was no doubt the world was talking about her therefore there was no doubt that we should too.

Philippe's and Silas' comments are ones echoed by many people who do not see entertainment- and celebrity-based news as news. I - and this is one of the reasons I'm the one writing this post - firmly believe that it is. Not only is it a way of getting new people to consume news but it also more accurately reflects what large swathes of the world talk about on a daily basis.

That isn't to say there should be a celebrity-based story on our show every day. But when one likes this comes along, attracting the attention it has, we've got to do it.


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