BBC BLOGS - Mark Mardell's America
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A new home for Mardell's America

Mark Mardell | 11:00 UK time, Thursday, 5 May 2011

Thanks for reading this: my blog is moving to a new home. The idea is to bring all my work and analysis together on one page: the blog, of course, but TV and radio pieces and [very soon] my tweets too. It's a great idea, and one the BBC is applying to most of the other editors and correspondents who blog.

I tend to use Twitter to link to either what I've written myself or to the work of colleagues, inside or outside the BBC. But that may change over time, as I see the virtue of live tweeting. The true worth of Twitter was shown on Sunday, when it gave us the first inkling that Osama Bin Laden was dead. Not all the speculation about the details was right but the one huge fact was.

The way I approach Twitter and news on the internet is very much driven by the way I consume it. The built TV bulletin is very far from going the way of the dodo but I want to be able to watch crafted reports online too. This new page should allow this and more.


  • Comment number 1.

    Your endorsement of Twitter is an important one for me; however, I am put off this technology & will be unlikely to change my view of it due to the amount of clutter it enables. Professional journalists -- one thing; Kardashians, porn stars and rappers... quite another. Won't be diving into that cesspool...

    I can understand the logic behind these changes, and also the editorial decisions. Editors, inevitably, also answer to their seniors.

    The old format had the benefit of simplicity. The new format is a copy of Have Your Say & most likely will wind up attracting more silly blather than reducing it...

    Still, I applaud your heroic efforts on behalf of an informed public, Mr Mardell, and BBC.

  • Comment number 2.

    Maria Ashot,

    Once, long ago, I may have insulted you. For a some time I had an impression that you were a Russian apologist, rather than, as I now perceive, a person of Russian descent who appreciates the art, culture and history of what should be [had the Russians been a bit more fortunate in their leaders] a great and cultured nation basking in personal freedom and opportunity.

    I have been reading your posts, and doing so has broadened my perspective. I regret that you will be unable to continue to provide the richly textured warp and woof of the Russian history and culture.

    Will you be satisfied with, "Alex II tried, failed, Sry!"?

    It loses quite a bit in translation to the BBC's new TEXTer [or is it Twitter?] look.
    I have no use for reductio ad absurdem, twitter, tweeter, etc. I agree with you and the other unsatisfied customers. However, as I am not a UK fee-payer, it isn't really for me to say how it is done her.

    Accept any apology necessary, sincerely offered with
    Best wishes,

  • Comment number 3.

    The blog hasn't merely moved -- it's changed. This is the death of the America blog. Many people came here not so much for what Mardell (and Webb before him) had to say, but for what others had to say about what Mardell had to say. The new format will not support the extended detailed discussion of events which was the hallmark of the old, so that's the end of it. Too bad. Let the tweeters have it, then.

  • Comment number 4.

    It was very interesting whilst it lasted, but it must have been very demanding, almost round the clock careful reading, consideration and 'moderation'.
    Thank you Mr Mardell and all concerned and well done! And thanks to all those who contributed interesting comments, especially those I learnt something from.
    I'm still not sure about Twitter, I only use it to post my own articles. Hopefully those interested enough know where they can find me too, and I would welcome intelligent comments of such calibre, (and continue have first hand information from people like Amr). Bonne continuation!

  • Comment number 5.


    I’ve noted already in Gavin Hewitt’s old blog my opinion of the new blog format, so I won’t repeat it here. What I have done since those posts is to search the BBC site to try to understand some of the motivations behind the redesign. I found two different areas that might be of relevance.

    The first area is that of the Ten Principles of the BBC Global Experience Language Design Philosophy. I noted in particular the fourth principle, Pioneering:

    We pioneer design innovations that surprise and delight. We introduce the unexpected but always take our audiences with us.

    The new blog format certainly surprised me by introducing the unexpected, but it did not delight me, and in all honesty is unlikely to take me with you.

    Also of note was the sixth principle, Distinctive:

    We stand out by looking to tomorrow instead of simply referencing the design trends of today. We strike a balance between cookie-cutter design and beautiful anarchy.

    Does the new blog format look to tomorrow? As many other commenters have noted, the new format seems rather to reference the design trend of today’s Twitter. What so appeals to me about the old format is exactly “beautiful anarchy”: the well-crafted articles of the journalists being the catalyst to the reactions and observations of commenters from around the world, running the gamut from laughable to profound — and the new format will not enhance the quality of those insights.

    The second area that I found was the BBC Editorial Guidelines, where the complete set of guidelines is downloadable as a PDF document. (PDF links generally aren’t allowed in the old blog, but I don’t know if the moderators would make an exception for BBC-hosted PDF links.) A couple of sections are of note in the editorial guidelines.

    §1.2.6, Serving the Public Interest, states

    We seek to report stories of significance to our audiences. We will be rigorous in establishing the truth of the story and well informed when explaining it. Our specialist expertise will bring authority and analysis to the complex world in which we live. We will ask searching questions of those who hold public office and others who are accountable, and provide a comprehensive forum for public debate.

    In my view, the old blog format has provided that comprehensive forum for public debate, and the new blog format removes the comprehensive part from that guideline; it remains a forum for public debate, but how comprehensively can a person debate with a 400 character limit?

    One of the bullet points of §17.4.40, User Generated Content Online, states

    • We should aim to accommodate the widest possible range of opinions
    consistent with any rules of the community and the requirements of due

    Again, the widest possible range of opinions will not be accommodated by a maximum of 400 characters. Indeed, this very opinion post would not be accommodated in the new blog format, which is why I have posted it in the old blog, rather than splitting it into several posts in the new blog.

    Curiously, §17.4.41, Moderation, notes that

    Post-moderation is where the moderator sees the material after it has been published and decides whether it is suitable to remain. This is likely to be suitable for sites which attract robust debate about current affairs

    I’ve often wondered why post-moderation has not been applied to the European and North American blogs, given that they attract robust debate about current affairs…

    The way I approach Twitter and news on the internet is very much driven by the way I consume it.

    I take a similar approach. I don’t use Twitter, and I don’t consume any Twitterish services. I do read news on the Internet, and I prefer those sites which provide to readers the ability to comment on articles — to the extent of several paragraphs, if the fully fleshed-out comment requires it.

    Good luck to you with the new blog.
  • Comment number 6.

    well put.
    I always admired the detailed and concise argument that you develop in blog posts, the very approach is your patented style, whatever issue for thediscussion was brought forward. You don't write often but always to the point.

    I wish I had your structured mind.
    Myself I am afraid I am that :o)))))) beautiful anarchy :o)))))

  • Comment number 7.


    Thank you, but perhaps that structure only reveals that I lack the imagination to approach the topic in more creative ways. Please don’t underestimate the contributions of beautiful anarchy. ;*)

    Happy Victory Day to you, and may your next victory arrive well before next year.


    Another BBC page that I’ve discovered is the house JavaScript standard. Please note the following sections there:

    2.2 The core editorial proposition of the page and core navigation MUST be available to users with JavaScript disabled.

    2.3 Users with JavaScript disabled MUST NOT be presented with elements which are non-functioning or appear broken, due to the lack of JavaScript. For example, the user MUST NOT be presented with links that do nothing when clicked. To avoid this, elements which require JavaScript SHOULD always be added to the page via JavaScript.

    At this time, the new blog’s “Show More” navigation link does not work when JavaScript is disabled or unavailable; it effectively acts as a page refresh of the most recent five comments rather than showing the previous five comments. Commenters in the new blog who don’t have JavaScript enabled (or even available, in some browsers) would be unable to see any comments before the most recent five on display — which could be frustrating if the most recent five comments were recently posted and not yet moderated.
  • Comment number 8.


    If you want the new site to work, you will have to stop asking good questions and concentrate on such things as Linsey Lohan's political prospects.

    Your newest article about Pakistan, Afghanistan and India and the choices for America is just too interesting, too nuanced, and too important for tweets to do it justice. One could prepare multiple tweets, but sooner or later this would make for other problems and more dissatisfaction.

    I forsee this happening, and I will try to keep out of it as a waste of time and energy. SO, good luck with it. If you haven't read them already my final remarks on these threads were genuine praise for the BBC, and I meant every word of them.

  • Comment number 9.

    (sorry that I had to post this comment here)
    - The White House backtracks on Bin Laden #680 JMM
    It seems that the investigations, so far, proved there was a Christian woman held captive in a church against her will after she changed her religion to Islam. I thought it's only a rumor used by Salafis, but apparently I was wrong. It was also mentioned that a Christian Businessman hired some thugs who used Molotov cocktail.

    However, in this case, and similar previous cases, everyone seems to be willing to use brute force, ignoring the authorities altogether. (and the authorities, the police and the army, arrived late to the scene and some suggested that they have been reluctant to interfere. Several opinions suggest that they may be encouraging chaos. It's also possible that someone is trying to cause trouble to the army. – These are only theories) The authorities didn't seem to have listened to the Salafis requests earlier. (but I think the government have already too many problems to deal with.)

    There doesn't seem to be any intention of changing or improving anything in Egypt, or someone wants to make it seem this way. If it's merely a distraction or a décor, I'm not sure who is pulling the strings or what their intention is. (There are three possible sides interfering inside and at least two possible sides outside. I'll leave the guessing part to you.) It's even possible that there is a war behind the scenes between 3 different parties about who will assume control of Egypt in order to achieve their goals.

    - All this is subject to change at any moment. Also, these are only assumptions combined with some news. I think I shouldn't add any more details. This is becoming a National Security matter; I don't think I should interfere by making assumptions.
    I won't be commenting for at least a couple of months

  • Comment number 10.

    #9 Amr
    I was thinking just now, perhaps she changed her religion because she was upset of her husband. She mentioned maltreatment (i'm not sure how 'divorce' works for Christians here) Then things got complicated.
    Or perhaps I'm just asssuming things and she really wanted to change her religion to Islam
    Then, again, this issue should have been dealt with in a different manner. There was another better 'means of communication' available. Just a visit between Al-Azhar and the Church could have cleared the ambiguity of the situation. Also, the Authorities could have achieved the same result... There was no need for violence and chaos
    - That's just a theory, anyway
    -- perhaps it's better to wait for the investigation results to show up

  • Comment number 11.

    A follow-up to post 5 above can be found here. (Note that italic text support seems to be spotty there, although bold text and blockquotes seem to be supported.)


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