The BBC’s interview program Hardtalk has what is by far the industry’s most skillful research team. I am constantly amazed at the depth and knowledge of the questions presented by the show’s very capable hosts to the politicians, heads of state, and business,media and sports personalities that have appeared over the years on the program. Indeed, at times I couldn’t help but feel sorry for some of the more ill-prepared guests on the show, while they flustered and strained to come up with adequate responses to the piercing questions posed to them. This is not a program for anyone looking for a Piers Morgan-like fluff and feel-good half hour.
While it is always a pleasure to watch well informed and skillful hosts skewering ill-prepared politicians, it is a rare treat to watch an episode where the guest is as well prepared, knowledgeable and every bit the expert as Hardtalk’s team of researchers. Such was the joy of watching the episode where the amazingly well-informed Dr Brooke Magnanti was interviewed by the equally well prepared Katya Adler.
This was by far one of the best handled half-hour interviews I’ve ever had the privilege of watching, especially considering the controversial subject matter, prostitution. I consider it a must-watch 30 minutes of television for anyone whose job involves talking with the media. It is a text book example of a well-prepared, skillful and knowledgeable expert defending a point of view that would be challenging under the best of circumstances.
It is interesting to see the different and contrasting approaches the world’s media took to covering and discussing the recent demonstrations in the Islamic world, protesting against the *cough* film “The Innocence of Muslims” (the very making of which set the art of film-making back 50 years). Chinese protesters who during the same timespan, smashed up and burned down Japanese businesses and brutally assaulted Japanese nationals, can’t have been happy that their cause was overshadowed by coverage of the few thousand Muslim protesters in a handful of Islamic countries.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of two of the United Kingdom’s most famous pop-culture creations; the James Bond films, and the sci-fi series Doctor Who. Both have survived and thrived through five decades of changing cultural tastes. The programs have stood the ultimate test of any institution; to outlast the life-time or active involvement of its founders or any principal individual.
Which, when you think about it, kinda sucks. Apparently, a series of movies about a fictional British spy and a show about an alien time/space traveler, are more durable than the political party that has ruled Syria for the exact same amount of time that those two entities have been in existence. The first James Bond movie came out in 1962, Doctor Who first aired in 1963, and the Baathists seized power in Syria on 8th March,1963 (a date drilled into the head of every single Syrian school child). And yet there’s no question whatsoever which institutions are stronger.
The Syrian Revolution is one of history’s most documented and widely reported conflicts. Thanks to the Internet and the prevalence of mobile phone cameras, demonstrations and consequential regime crackdowns and abuses can be bought to the world’s attention in real time. Citizen Journalism has come of age, and the Syrian Revolution has heralded a new era, where established media has been displaced by the humble citizen journalist.
Har har, yeah right. Speaking as a citizen journalist myself, and someone who has given numerous interviews to the BBC over a ten months period, I can confidently say that when push comes to shove, and when conditions get extremely tough, with the Internet, mobile and land lines and electricity cut off by a regime hell bent on bringing a country to heel, the citizen journalist will sadly find that his or her ability to tell the world of the shells falling around them has been reduced to near zero. Read more…
I love the BBC. It is the most impartial and professional news organization in the world. I always make it a point to catch the discussion program Dateline London every Saturday on the World Service. Every episode consists of a panel of London based foreign and British journalists, and is presented by Gavin Esler, whose professionalism is exceeded only by….the angry and loud debating style of a regular panelist, Abdel Bari Atwan, editor of the Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper, and the archetypal angry, frustrated, loud, feels-hes-entitled-to-everything-leftist Arab (usually Palestinian).