In the summer of 2007 I was hired by the BBC (after a long career at CBS News) to launch a new nightly news broadcast. The idea was fairly simple, and to my mind, elegant:
1) At the precise moment when Americans needed to know more and more about events and issues beyond their borders, they were less and less likely to find good coverage of the wider world on US television news networks.
2) The BBC was the perfect organisation to address that shortage with unparalleled global journalistic reach and an unrivalled reputation for smart, sophisticated, impartial coverage of international news.
Thus was BBC World News America born. Our first broadcast was exactly one year ago, on 1 October 2007, with BBC veteran Matt Frei in the anchor seat in Washington DC, correspondent Katty Kay delivering reports from the field, and a crack production team in DC and in London working night in and out to deliver the best of BBC journalism from around the globe to audiences watching on BBC America here in the US, BBC World News internationally, and the News Channel in the UK.
Our primary mission is to deliver strong international coverage to American viewers, and we're proud of how we've accomplished that in our first year, on stories as varied as the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the earthquake in China, and the global financial crisis.
We also attempt to offer a fresh and distinctive take on American stories, and we've been fortunate to have a great story to follow in our first 12 months: the US Presidential campaign. Matt and Katty know the election landscape better than most American reporters, and contributing analyst Ted Koppel has given us a fresh take and original insights all along the way.
The unique strengths of this proposition were evident a few days ago in our coverage of the much anticipated first presidential debate. Whereas US networks went straight to the spin room for pre-cooked claims of victory from campaign officials, we had live reaction to the substance of the debate from BBC correspondents in Baghdad, Moscow, Beijing and Kabul. These reporters skilfully conveyed just how engaged the rest of the world is in this election. Substance over spin.
We've also featured sharp and smart interviews with top newsmakers and analysts, developed signature franchises like First Person, in which people tell their own stories in their own words, and nurtured vital partnerships with other BBC programmes such as Newsnight, with whom we shared a prestigious Peabody award this year, for the wonderful "White Horse Village" films from China.
It has been a very rewarding first year. But it's only the beginning of what we intend to accomplish.