How do I love BBC America? Let me count the ways

I am seriously fed up with domestic news coverage. It's banal, repetitive and parochial. And, that's on a good day.

April 9 If one were to watch a batch of NBC, Fox, CBS, CNN and MSNBC coverage, one would think the world begins in Hawaii and ends somewhere in Maine.

It doesn't. That's why I've wholeheartedly embraced BBC America as one of my primary sources of news and information.

Where else would I learn of the Iberia Airlines/British Air merger? Where else would I learn about the unrest in Kyrgyzstan? And, where else would I see commercial plugs for the latest installments of 'Dr Who'?

There are many reasons why the sun is setting on the U.S. empire. One of the prime drivers is our incessant and myopic view of life. We believe the rest of the world, if not the entire universe, revolves around the United States. Sadly, the inverse is true. America is increasingly less relevant. As our global deficit rises, our relative importance declines.

That's why it's so important for those of us in communications to understand what the REST of the world thinks is newsworthy. They're not concerned about Charlie Sheen's latest spousal abuse charge. Nor do they care about American Idol, the start of yet another major league baseball season or the Tea Party's views on what's wrong with Washington, D.C.

With BBC America, you'll see far less coverage of Obama's game of HORSE with CBS's Harry Smith and far more insight into what really matters: namely, the latest Middle East news as well as what's happening in emerging First World powers such as Brazil, India and China. You'll see little, if any, mention of the latest Hollywood scandal (think: Sandra Bullock) and nothing about the latest murder/suicide in Boynton Beach.

It's far too late for America to turn back the clock. But, American PR types like you and me still have a window of opportunity with which to understand how dramatically the world has changed (and how we can continue to play a key role in the dissemination of news and information).

Whether you're a student, a PR professional or, heaven forbid, a medical supplies executive, do yourself a favor: pick up a copy of the F.T., listen to BBC Radio or, better yet, tune into BBC America's nightly newscasts. I guarantee your P.O.V. will change faster than Ms. Bullock's marital status.

16 thoughts on “How do I love BBC America? Let me count the ways

  1. Julie,
    I think you are right and the reason for the BBC producing ‘better’ news than the US networks is because it is not profit making, but there are some other issues also.
    In the UK news must be presented without bias and overt editorialising is forbidden. This used to be the case in the US under the FCC’s Fairness Doctrine, but this was repealed by Reagen in 1987. In the UK the 24 hour news channels are quite dry in comparison to those in the US, but that is the price of factual news reporting.
    A really interesting programme I watched recently was this one on Al Jazeera about how news organisations will operate in the future: The prediction of Greg Dyke, the former Director General of the BBC, is that news organisations will be state-funded (not state-run) to ensure that there are the necessary resources to produce quality and credible news that global citizens can rely on.

  2. Nice post Repman.
    The BBC is certainly better at presenting a world view than the US networks. But even the BBC has only so much time for global news. My satellite TV package comes with BBC, Sky News, Fox, CNN, CNBC, Bloomberg, France 24, Russia Today, Al Jazeera, Euro News and CCTV (China News). It is really interesting to see what other countries count as news, especially for major news events. During the Georgian war in 2008 the difference between the BBC/CNN types and the news being reported by Russia Today was remarkable.

  3. I understand. I just find it hilarious that the two (NE and Pulitzer) are ever mentioned in the same sentence…a serious one at that.

  4. OK, so I equate sleaze with Hollywood. My bad. Edwards was already dead as a candidate when the story broke, Lunch. That doesn’t diminish what the NE did. But, outing a politician’s dalliances doesn’t exactly qualify as global journalism at its best. I’ll stick with BBC America.

  5. I hear you; but I wouldn’t slot the Edwards Sex scandal as “Hollywood.” If the National Enquirer didn’t pursue this story to all ends, he could have ended up as the President or VP. And, the NE might win the Pulitzer for best investigative journalism by a newspaper!!! Crazy that mainstream media outlets let this one go…

  6. The National Enquirer deserves all the credit in the world for breaking serious, Hollywood-type stories. So does TMZ , which broke Jacko’s death. Within the narrow confines of a specific Pulitzer category, the Enquirer, TMZ or any other fringe media property that does its legwork and breaks a mega story deserves the credit. That doesn’t mean either will ever provide a global view of what’s really important (unless knowing about the latest alien abductions are considered an essential part of one’s world view).

  7. Rep, given this post, I would love to hear your thoughts about the National Enquirer winning print’s highest honor, the Pulitzer Prize. It could happen…we will know shortly.
    Might hell be frozen?

  8. Great observation, Julie. No one doubts the big three American networks have lost their respective journalistic ways since being acquired by media conglomerates. Fact-based journalism can be, shall we say, mundane? Whereas Tiger, Sandra and Charlie Sheen are titilating. And the latter produce ratings (and bucks).

  9. Could it be because BBC Worldwide is not owned by a for-profit corporation, such as GE owning NBC Universal, where TV broadcasts (including news) live and die by Nielsen ratings?

  10. Excellent point, Art. With BBC America, it’s just the facts. No unnecessary editorializing.

  11. Couldn’t agree with you more, Rep. Back in the day I used to love my business trips to the UK simply because they afforded me different news! To be fair the Brits have more than their share of tabloid journalism but as far as broadcast news is concerned I think the BBC is first rate. I think this is largely due to the fact that they report the news and don’t spend so damn much time commenting on it.

  12. I agree the other programming is, shall we say, somewhat tawdry. Maybe that’s intended to counter balance the high-brow content of BBC America’s news?

  13. Well said old chap! This homesick Brit fully supports you in your choice of news channel – no other country reports news quite as well as the BBC. Off to put the kettle on for a cuppa!

  14. RepMan, I’m with you on the BBC newscasts. I remember a few years ago when we saw Brian Williams at a lunch, and I asked him why one of their lead-ins was about some social or celebrity topic rather than about what’s most important to the country. He replied somewhat huffily that their job was to reflect our culture. Funny, I thought it was to inform.
    Back to BBC America: as good as the news that it delivers is, much of the rest of its programming is downright shameful. Brothers & Sisters in Love? Love Me, Love My Doll? Peep Show? And endless episodes of Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares and Top Gear. Not what I expect from the Beebe.