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Gold standard

Liliane Landor | 09:42 UK time, Thursday, 15 May 2008

Last July, in the wake of Alan Johnston's release, I wrote on this blog that I felt slightly uncomfortable about the media hyping of World Service news. My point was that here in the UK, the WS usually goes unnoticed until something happens that sharply propels it back to the centre of people's attention.

World Service logoWell, something HAS happened this week, and happily it wasn't a hostage crisis. But this time, I am sorry that the British press has failed to hype us!

At the Sony awards on Monday my department, WS News and Current affairs, won seven out of the eight awards we were nominated for. We swept the board - three Gold, three Silver and a Bronze. Hardly a mention in the British press, and even the BBC internal publication Ariel did not think we deserved more than a couple of lines.

Gathering so many awards in one big swoop is totally unprecedented for the WS...not because we do not deserve it or do not do brilliant journalism, but simply because of the context of the Sonys. We're competing with domestic BBC and independent sector colleagues for the most prestigious awards in the British radio industry. To overcome that hurdle and win so many awards was a major achievement. And for the British radio establishment to recognise that we in the World Service do gold standard radio, lead the field on creativity and interactivity, and possess some of the best presenters in the country gives us a ringing endorsement.

Having it publicly recognised would have been the icing on the cake. But hey, I don't want to exaggerate the sense of disappointment. The fact is that the BBC World Service focuses on its audience - 40 million worldwide, including 1.35 million in this country. The programmes made in Bush House have a far larger audience than every other BBC radio station combined. The reason is that we make good intelligent radio and even if the British press hasn't noticed that fact, I am delighted that the Sony committees have.


  • Comment number 1.

    great to see the BBC congratulating themselves for once.

    i don't feel the BBC blow their own trumpet enough, I can remember the last time I saw an Editor pointing out how good their branch of the BBC is compared to the rest and how they are a deserved winner of corporate award x, y or z.

    I am guessing the awards are for all that great work like the investigation into the illegal movement of nuclear weapons, the legalisation of sexual torture under PDD51, the DC madam 'suicide', my favourite was when you highlighted the cutting off of Iran from the internet, when 'randomly' 6 cables were broken in the space of a week or so.

    So well done and good luck at next weeks trinket handout.

  • Comment number 2.

    Yes, the World Service produces professional radio with impeccable clarity and brevity of presentation but has a lousy habit of dumping fine programmes like Masterpiece, with nothing to replace them.

    And before you get a sore back from patting yourselves on it so hard you should look at the content of the World Service - the far left wing bias, which you demonstrate on an hourly basis with your omission and distortion of inconvenient facts. You know, the ones that don't suit your agenda.

  • Comment number 3.

    I was thrilled to learn that a couple of my favourite programmes - Newshour and World Have Your Say - has won the 'News and Current Affairs Programme' and 'Listener Participation Award' this year. If that was not enough, Owen Bennett-Jones had been named 'News Journalist of the Year'. Wish to congratulate to all and keep up the good work.

  • Comment number 4.

    Oh dear. Here I thought whining about the mythical 'left wing' media was only an American thing.

    I can't speak of languages I don't understand, but the World Service is far and away the best and fairest news broadcaster in English or French speaking worlds.

  • Comment number 5.

    saabrian, there's no "whining" involved and there's nothing "mythical " about the left-wing media. The BBC let slip in an unguarded moment that, The corridors of Broadcasting House were strewn with empty champagne bottles after the 1997 Labour victory. The BBC has its agenda, its causes and its pet likes and dislikes. I have been listening to the World Service and documenting the bias for a number of years.

    It's the easiest thing in the world to get sarcastic about others' perceptions, and internet forums are unfortunately riddled with such observations. But it's unimpressive, especially when, as in your case, the sarcasm is not backed up with any counter arguments.

    We'd like to see the BBC winning a genuine award for truly objective, informed and in depth journalism - awarded by people who appreciate what that means. Unfortunately the BBC is light years away from such an achievement.

  • Comment number 6.

    Yes, indeed, BBC WS is making great strides (and is far in front of anything else).

    It can still use more training: news processors/presenters are NOT priests and prophets possessed of the unique truth. Egos must be jolted almost daily to try to get this across.

    Contrarian views need more presentation.

    Check the Christian Science Monitor for a different and needed sort of journalism.

    Give all journalists a copy of G. Trow's 1980 article in the New Yorker "Within the context of No Context".

  • Comment number 7.

    Ignore all the usual whining about left wing bias. I could assemble a good case for what I see as a fairly right wing bias, but I won't go there in this thread. Instead I'll just say congratulations on winning an incredible 7 awards! (Are you sure one of them wasn't intended for Catherine Tate?)

  • Comment number 8.


    congraluations on the bbc winning the awards...

  • Comment number 9.

    In a perceptive article in the New Yorker, “Within the Context of No Context” (Nov. 17, 1980), G. W. S. Trow offered several insights about the action of the media in modern American society. Some of these ideas are paraphrased here.

    Counting takes the place of judgment. Only things that could be counted were important. Those things with high counts were boosted even more.

    People sought a false intimacy for reassurance. The culture acted in a childish way.

    News is mostly reported without history or context for judgment.

    [Try to work on that last point!]

  • Comment number 10.

    How can a society which lavishes so much money on a vast state owned media network that after years of struggling still can't even operate a blogger internet web site reliably expect to successfully send a probe to Mars? If I ever get anothter dog, I think I will call it Beagle III and when it is bad, I will threaten to send it to the UK for a voyage to the red planet. Have you figured out how to wire up an A380 yet? How about a toaster oven? Gold standard? Hah, what a joke.

  • Comment number 11.

    Well hurrah- yet another award. What will tomorrow bring on the "editors' blog"? Could be another award ceremony somewhere? Has anyone in the BBC got the intellectual honesty to look objectively at the content of these blogs over the last few months? Awards, redesigns, relaunches, rebrandings- and basically nothing else. Please, BBC, get over yourselves, there is a real world out there, which you are paid to report on. As someone who is paying for all this, I really have no interest in your introspection, naval gazing, and general self-interest. I expect some serious journalism. Anyone remember what that is? And it has nothing to do with branding, "look and feel", or awards ceremonies.

  • Comment number 12.

    @haufdeed - oh please. Your post is so typical of the sneering cynical attitude that dominates the internet and especially these comment areas. What's wrong with a simple (and genuine) congratulation when the BBC achieves something or wins something? Why on earth go to the trouble of posting something so negative on what was otherwise a positive blog and a cause for celebration?

    Yes you have the freedom of speech to do so if you wish (thanks to the BBC), but still, if you have a bee in your bonnet, why not make it on one of the more appropriate blogs instead of turning a positive blog into a negative one? Did you enjoy ruining people's parties when you were younger?

    Despite what we read around these parts by the usual anti-BBC mob, the BBC has always struck me as being very receptive to constructive and polite feedback, and far from being a blind follower, I've offered plenty of it over the years. Disagree with them if you like, but the fact that posts like yours are even published is to their credit.

    The BBC just happens to have rebranded their news over the last couple of months. It's entirely understandable that they should want to engage with users and request feedback. There is nothing unusual about that, and the thousands who contributed to those blogs would not have been able to had those blogs not been published.

    Go back prior to this recent redesign, and you won't see anything like as many entries in these blogs about "redesigns, relaunches, rebrandings". Funny, that.

    Frankly, the suggestion that editors blogs cover "basically nothing else" displays the true extent of your so-called objectivity. There have been plenty of quite thought-provoking blogs recently that have had nothing to do with branding and design... the problems of reporting from different places, moral decisions about how (and what) to report, all kinds of things. You talk about "intellectual honesty", yet you appear to have a severe case of selective blindness when it comes to acknowledging these other topics.

    Finally you end by bemoaning the lack of "serious journalism". Umm, this is an editors blog my friend, not a news bulletin.

  • Comment number 13.

    Mass audience participation is a bit like listening in on a World-wide pub.

    There is a great opportunity to tap the more reflective and informed:
    What is needed is vetted blog or a "letters page".

    The ANALYSIS programming, for example, is attempting to suggest the "why" and a bit of the context in which news events occur.

    Ideas and informed/documented audience views could help these objectives via a letters page or blog, vetted for quality of thought and documentation.

    The WHYS blog seems concerned more with encouraging and tabulating emotional response and thus does not offer such a venue.

    ANALYSIS has the talent to offer such a venue, perhaps others sources within the World Service could do so as well?

  • Comment number 14.

    The World Service has helped BBC listeners all over the world to develop their critical sense and improve their knowledge of other countries and cultures. The impact has been so very great and has brought great minds together. The multi-pronged benefits of well researched BBC programs are there for everyone to digest on TV, the internet and radio. Authorative news broadcasts, the World Have Your Say discussion programmes, analytical are some examples of the the deep desire of BBC editors to resonate with the listening public. Keep the BBC flag high: other broadcasters should follow the exemplary lead.


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