The World Tonight Meet The Editor: Alistair Burnett

Alistair Burnett

Alistair Burnett has worked on many of the BBC News' leading programmes. After beginning his BBC career at World Service, he spent three years as an output editor on the The World Tonight in the mid 1990s, before moving to the Today programme for a couple of years and then back to the World Service where he became Editor of Daytime Programmes. He became Editor of The World Tonight in late 2004.

After getting his MA in History from Edinburgh University, Alistair worked abroad teaching English in Italy and then China. It was there witnessing the stirrings of the pro-democracy movement that culminated in the Beijing massacre that Alistair decided what he really wanted to do was to be a BBC journalist. So he returned to the UK and after a couple of unsuccessful applications, joined the BBC World Service in the late 1980s.

Alistair has a particular interest in international relations and the shifting power relations in the world with the emergence of nations, like Brazil, China, India and Turkey who are beginning to challenge the American and European dominance of global affairs.

Alistair says: "We hear all the time from politicians, businessmen and commentators that the world is becoming more and more interdependent, yet as journalists we often still divide the news into domestic and foreign and this tends to be reflected in the way we cover stories. This is not reflecting the world as it is and does you - the listener - a disservice. We need to reflect the world as it is and that means making connections between what happens around the world and what happens here at home, so on The World Tonight we aim to take a global approach, report what is going on, analyse it and provide a forum for debate of the big issues affecting all of us.

The stories we cover are those which reflect the big themes underlying global events, such as the shifting balance of power in the world; the emergence of Brazil, China and India as economic powers; the debate over the future of the global economy; the environment and energy; developments in science and their impact on society; migration and population growth; the growing importance of religion in global affairs, etc.

It's worth bearing in mind too that these big themes can be brought out by seemingly small stories. We aim to make a World Tonight story genuinely revelatory; it should ask intelligent questions and leave listeners with a new insight ... oh and we also cover big breaking stories too.

The programme also has a particular brief to look at European affairs, business and economic stories. Indeed, owing to a historical quirk, the programme has its own dedicated business correspondent and we have won Radio Programme of the Year from the Wincott Foundation for Business Journalism twice in the past few years.

Alistair Burnett blogs on The Editors, the place where the editors from across BBC News share their dilemmas and issues.

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