If you’re in London and can hear whimpering and pleas for forgiveness, that’s the sound of our colleague Paul Coletti who offered to film us answering your questions, and then cancelled five minutes after we were due to start. The road back into the warm bosom of WHYS will be a long and arduous one. Anyway, at least you don’t haev to look at me. Here are some replies to the questions you sent in, including to all 13 from Abdelilah.
John in the US
Would you consider setting a limit on the size of the comments submitted? Something like 500 words or less? There’s a lot less tendency to ramble when there’s a limited space. Ros: I’m not sure we’re going to set a limit but just as I say on air ‘this is a conversation, not a series of speeches’, the same applies on the blog. If someone is clearly intent on publishing an essay rather than entering a dialogue then we won’t approve it. But on air we don’t set specific limits, we use our judgement and we hope to the same online.
Lubna in Baghdad
If I want to be the one who’s reading out the messages of the WHYS listeners during the programme on air, then what qualities should I have?!
Ros: Well you need two things. You need to be able to read out loud well, and you need to be in London. You’ve one out of two Lubna, but getting you from Iraq to Bush House might be more difficult. You never know though.
Will in California
Do the WHYS team feel they are completely unbiased in what they produce? Do they feel that they have to be seen as controversial to gain listeners or do they feel that they have to strive for neutrality on all matters?
Ros: Neutrality runs through BBC journalists and I’ve never heard anyone suggest we take one side or another. But to claim we are completely neutral is perhaps to be naïve about the human condition. Suffice to say it is our goal and I’d like to think we get pretty close. (If a BBC host gave away their opinions on air, they’d be out the door in a flash.) And no, we would never seek to be controversial to pull in listeners.
From Abdelilah in Morocco:
1) Do you check the originality of the comments you put on the blog. Some may, although it is a very rare possibility, copy comments from other articles and attribute them to themselves?
We don’t check every message’s originality but you can tell quite easily when someone is copying and pasting. If we spot that, it doesn’t get published.
2) There are some people who contribute on the blog without revealing where they are from. I am sure when you receive their comments you know where they are. Can you add their location at the bottom of their comments?
We can’t tell where people are. We do encourage people to say but if they don’t there’s nothing we can do about. We wouldn’t publish someone’s whereabouts against their will anyway.
3) There are contributors who don’t reveal their real names. They use just pseudo names. Are real names important? On my part, I put my very real full name!
Real names aren’t important. If people feel comfortable using an online name that is fine.
4) Can you put every show or at least part of it on Youtube? I think some are curious to know what the atmosphere is like when the show is on air.
We’re looking in to doing a lot more video than we do at the moment. I’m not sure about every show, but certainly some of them.
5) Do you keep an archive of the conversations you have with people before they come on air? Can you publish some remarkable ones?
We don’t and I don’t think we would want to. If people have a contribution to make we invite them to comment on the blog or the programme. If they don’t want to, we’ll leave it at that.
6) The show lasts one hour. How much time do you spend contacting those who like to be on the show?
We get in 7 hours before going on air, and start contacting people after we’ve picked our subject/s. So we have around 6 hours on a normal day.
7) Do you still have a two-part edition of the show or is this limited just to summer time? ( I had the occasion of taking part in the second edition of the show twice without being able to listen to it as in Morocco, only the first part is broadcast at 17:00 GMT). In the second part of the show do you keep the same guests in the first one or do you get new ones?
We have two editions during British Summertime. Sometimes we invite a guest onto both editions, sometimes we don’t. There’s no rule. No-one hears both editions though so we do occasionally hear someone making a similar comment in each hour.
The daily show preparation and presentation starts from the morning. Does the show presenter keep presence in the studio since the debate starts?
I go into the studio around 30 minutes before we go on air. Other than that I am with the rest of the team in the office.
9) Do BBC correspondents outside UK help you get contributors to the show? If not how do you get to contact people in highly censored countries like Cuba?
We get help from BBC staff all around the world.
10) How many local radio stations outside UK transmit the show, in addition to those in the USA?
We broadcast on Kiss FM in Tanzania and Thetha FM in South Africa.
11) I am sure you get a lot of comments everyday. On average, how many comments do you get daily?
There’s not really an average day but most fall between 100 and 1000 comments.
12) Will you reveal statistics of the comments you get as in Have Your Say by showing the number of total comments received, those published and those rejected?
No. We don’t have that facility on our blog.
13) And finally when will the old/ original blog be repaired or is the current one going to be it definite replacement?
We’ve got a meeting tomorrow about just that. We will move back to the BBC and leave WordPress behind but only when we are sure that the BBC one will work.
Dennis in New York
1) Does WHYS changed its programme when a BREAKING NEWS story happens?
Yes, the World service would interrupt any regular programming if a story of sufficient important broke.
2) What happens when the BBC has a power outage…or computers crash?
We have a lot of systems to stop this affecting the people who are on air. If need be though we just print out the scripts.