Monday Editor, Monica Ali
Over the Xmas period the Today Programme decided to carry out an experiment. Could new faces inject some new and refreshing insight?
|Monica Ali's prog.|
Doncaster - Less coal, more dole?
Controversy over 'Brick Lane'.
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Learning out of the classroom.
A U.S patrolman facing the crowds.
Arriving in Britain - but what happens next?
Educating the under fives...
I agreed to this then had a panic as soon as I put down the phone. What if I don't have any ideas? But once I'd started I found it hard to stop. Every day now I keep thinking of things that I think would make a good item.
The whole process was new to me. You commission a piece but then it's out of your hands. The item that you've been hearing in your head isn't necessarily how it sounds when it's been put together. It's dependent on other people's interpretations and interactions, and I wasn't acting as a true editor in that I didn't have any part in shaping the final pieces - the first time I heard them was on broadcast.
I was quite shocked when I was told that we couldn't get a reporter around the Great Lakes area for a piece I wanted to do on displaced children. We couldn't even get a stringer. It really made me think hard about the news agenda and how it operates.
I enjoyed the experience and I'm very grateful to be given the opportunity. And now I'm keen to get down to some writing. However difficult and anguished the writing process may be, characters are always available for comment and, though they may surprise you a little along the way, you can generally get them to the places that you want them to be.
Here are the items commissioned by Ms Ali...
Listen to Dying Towns:
The changing face of work is a theme Monica touched on in her novel, Brick Lane. She commissioned Today reporter, Dominic Arkwright, to go to Doncaster and look at what happens to places when the industrythey were built on just disappears. How do they survive? Do they survive? And can call centres or retail parks ever replace pits and factories?
Listen to Kid Swap Report:
Bradford Schools have a project where kids from the city schools where there are lots of Asian children - are sent to rural schools where there are much fewer. Inlight of the nation's obsession with all these lifeswap programmes, Monica was keen to look at something which was similar, but in many ways very different and obviously far more useful. She commissioned Richard Wells to spend time with the project organisers and the children.
Listen to A Soldier's Story:
Carlos (not his name), an infantryman in the U.S army serving in Iraq has gone AWOL while on leave and Monica Ali got to hear of his story. He tells us about his time in Iraq, his feelings about the immorality / criminality of the war, his decision to go AWOL - he wants to claim conscientous objection. He also points out that lots of soldiers serving don't even have U.S nationality. This is the first UK broadcast interview.
Listen to a Refugees Story:
Monica Ali wanted Todayto explore the fate of asylum seekers once they've reached Britain.
Listen to Under Five Education:
Polly Toynbee examines was the state of education for children under the age of five. Geraint Davies has taken a keen interest in government policy for children.
Listen to Monica's thoughts:
Monica Ali talks about her experience of editing the Today Programme.
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