Help shape our future….

We’re at Upton Park, home of West Ham United, today to talk about the future of interactivity in the BBC and particularly World Have Your Say.

You can help us by telling us how you want WHYS to evolve and what you want from us.

So far we’ve heard from Kevin Anderson, blog editor at The Guardian, and one of the WHYS founding producers, who told us that we should be using and exploring the huge amount of stories and experience already on the net, not only creating a space for conversation and expecting people to come to us.

And Patrick Dixon, a futurist. Who told us – that he, and so probably our listeners, were confused between our page and the have your say pages. He told us that people are driven by emotion and our tone and subject should reflect that. He thought many of the posts were too long – so your reply to this should be short!!! He thinks the pages take too long to upload, and that your messages should be instantly moderated. Hannah (one of our listeners and moderators) is sticking up for the vision that we have, despite our technological handcuffs, so its not all bad.

Once we’ve sorted the technical problems, Peter and James from World TV will be telling us about how WHYS could look as a TV programme.

You can help shape our future…..

– What will and should WHYS sound and look in 2 years time?

– What can we do better? What should we stop doing? What do you want more of?

– What do you think about the community around this programme – are there other ways we, as a team, could support this place for a global conversation – both as a radio programme as our blog.

70 Responses to “Help shape our future….”

  1. 1 Dennis
    July 23, 2008 at 14:42

    i think that the bbc should involved into a media giant for the next 100 years….

    but giving the world, more news coverage….

    syracuse, new york
    united states of america

  2. 2 Brett
    July 23, 2008 at 15:06

    I’ve been trying to rack my brain on how we could have night blogs and weekend blogs separated into the hottest debates and topics into sub discussions located within the link or weekend blog. It would make discussion easier than trying to keep up with 20 different points and topics being discussed all on one board, often with many people making multiple arguments on different topics, per post. Of course there would be a general area but the hot topics could be caught by a moderator and a sub-discussion dedicated to that topic or story. All sub topics would be located within the night time page or weekend page so as to avoid cluttering of the main WHYS page.

    Of course this would have positive and negative effects. It being confusing to implement and browse at first is an obvious negative aspect. And also separation of discussion may not appeal to some.

    With the layout of wordpress I don’t see how this could work though. Over the course of the past year or so people have really done a good job of using “@” and quoting comments which they are referring to making it a little easier to trace discussion.

    Ideally it would be amazing if users could flag their post with topics and you would continue to have a general posting page, but users could search or sort responses based on the story or topic, making it easier to follow specific discussions should they chose to do so.

    All confusing and I hope I’m explaining it well, though I’m sure I am not.

    WHYS and the team do a wonderful job in general though, and incorporate calls, emails, texts, blog posts, guests, and presenters into their program quite nicely. It has got to be a confusing and hectic task, however you all make it look seamless.

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  3. 3 AbuNas
    July 23, 2008 at 15:06

    I really appreciate how fair and balance BBC WHYS is. However, what is unfortunate about WHYS is the lack of coverage it provides over political crisis in the developing world. One such example is the emerging famine in Ethiopia and Somalia which is about to effect over 8 million civilians.

    Please discuss relevant issues which affects millions of people and provide the opportunity of informing millions of people.

  4. 4 nelsoni
    July 23, 2008 at 15:12

    @ brett. Too many cooks to stir, spoils the soup. I think the blog should be simple, easy to use and understand. If the blog is overloaded with to many functionalities, it becomes boring and unattractive. Make the blog idiot proof.

  5. July 23, 2008 at 15:21

    I am from Nepal. Truly! BBC is the only site, which I do not miss to visit once- when I get online.

    All those Journalists involving to BBC are icon of mine.No doubt! Today, BBC is the most believing source of news and programs.

    I am hopeful that BBC should be no 1 for forever. My best wishes are always with you.

  6. July 23, 2008 at 15:29

    I would love to see a blog that were easier to track. If the conversations could somehow become “threaded” it would be great. To have ability for somebody post a response to a topic and have a way to post a response to that directly under it. Yahoo used to do this, however it was un-moderated and often digressed into name calling and irrelevant and/ or un-factual comments.

    One thing that will always be an obstacle to “world” forums that are solely accessed by English speaking audiences is that you lose a giant part of the global opinion. Some way to cross the language gap would be awesome. However I recon that could get expensive.

  7. July 23, 2008 at 15:29

    the indictment of Serbs leader and the president Bashir is good example to African leaders who used to committ atrocities against cillians, please ICC President Robert Mugabe also should be brought to justice.

    Nelson Makoy- Sudan

  8. July 23, 2008 at 15:33

    the ICC is doing a good job

  9. July 23, 2008 at 15:34

    I think there is need for the BBC WHYS to get more involving especially the people.Inasmuch as I appreciate the Guests who make it to the WHYS studios to discuss some topics I would love to see more people give in their ideas freely. How I wish it were extended for two hours especially for the African Broadcast.

  10. 10 Bob in Queensland
    July 23, 2008 at 15:42

    I previously sent Mark an email about this but I don’t know if he got it so I’ll summarise briefly here:

    On a technical level, WHYS should look at moving from a blog format to some kind of forum software, allowing things to be more easily split into topics. This ought to help both download speeds and also make it easier to keep track of topics each WHYSer is interested in.

    On a “people” level, the experiment with volunteer mods should continue and be expanded…but better communication between the mods is needed. (My email dealt with some specific suggestions but I won’t bore the world here.)

    Finally, on topics perhaps we should open things up a bit and, where there’s not an obvious “worthy, world class” news story, not be scared of going for more quirky and unusual things. However, a good WHYS topic is one which is fresh, has lots of shades of grey to debate…and hopefully doesn’t leave posters so polarised they don’t listen to each other.

  11. 11 Anthony
    July 23, 2008 at 15:44

    Mobile web compatability. I would be on much more, and the moderators would be able to moderate even if not at home.

    Also, I’d like the show to be longer.

    Lastly, how about chat room type things?

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  12. July 23, 2008 at 15:51

    My dearest Mark Sandell : Hi… I do really wish if the WHYS programme were to be two hours long instead of being one hour long… Also I do totally agree that some of the comments here on this blog are far too long, which is a frustrating and annoying thing in my opinion… I do really wish if the tone of some of the comments here on this blog would be more civilised, more respectful, and more open-minded, especially when discussing controversial topics (as for e.g. topics related to Islam, the USA, and the Arab Israeli struggle)… Being uncivilised or disrespectful won’t make your comment sound stronger or more valid, to the contrary, it’ll weaken your point of view and mask anything valid you’re trying to say… A very big CONGRATULATIONS and BRAVO to the whole supermarvellous WHYS team for such an amazing performance over the past 3 years !! With my love… Yours forever, Lubna…

  13. 13 Mohammed Ali
    July 23, 2008 at 16:02

    Patrick Dixon ” Many of the posts were too long and that your messages should be instantly moderated”.

    I 100% agree with Patrick Dixon on this. The longer the post, the more reluctant people get to read it. I also believe that what we called night Blog should have some specific topics (2 or 3) to discussed. The reason for this is that when we are experiencing night others are experiencing day. That will give all WHYSers the opportunity to contribute on the program.

  14. 14 Brett
    July 23, 2008 at 16:15

    On a mod note, I would like to see a moderator forum or posts able to have comments to only be seen by moderators affixed to them. This would provide better communication with questionable posts or give reasoning as to why a post was edited or deleted and if the user was contacted, etc.

  15. 15 Justin from Iowa
    July 23, 2008 at 16:20

    1) Give the night blog and blank page its own web page/space, and give the moderators rights to create new topics to the night and weekend editors. I’m sorry, but as much as I often want to participate in the night blog, and especially the blank pages, its daunting to try to jump into a 200 comment long discussion and try to catch up on the backlog and then contribute. Give the night editors and Weekend Blank Pagers the chance to pull popular topics into their own blogspace so we can make sense of things.

    2) Bump WHYS to 1.5 hours if you can. 2 hours is often too long for some topics for the resources WHYS has to devote to them, while 1 hour very often cuts off discussions when they are just getting interesting. 1.5 is closer to a happy medium.

    3) Avoid moving to forums. They are harder to moderate, and harder to keep control of unruly and out of control discussions.

    4) Do consider a chatspace, though with very strict guidelines and consequences for communicating out of line.

    5) Clone Ros.

  16. 16 Shirley
    July 23, 2008 at 16:25

    One small technological gadget that I would appreciate and get much use of would be a preview box on the WHYS forums, either in the same window or popped out.

  17. July 23, 2008 at 16:35

    My dearest Mark Sandell : Hi again…. Just to say that if it’s not possible that the WHYS programme would be two hours long all over the week, then why not choosing one day of the week in which the length of the WHYS programme would be two hours (Friday for e.g.)… Ah Mark, as a proud Iraqi Hammer, I do really wish if I were with all you guys today at the Upton Park, but unfortunately you don’t get all what you wish !! With my love… Yours forever, Lubna…

  18. July 23, 2008 at 16:46

    Congragulations to all WHYS listners around the world!,If it haven’t been for you people WHYS couldn’t have a chieved what it has already achieved (global audiance)Imagine Abdi in kenya speaking to Katherina in Ghent,Lubna in Iraq,Bob in Australia,Hannah (today in westham to attend WHYS AWayday,) Steve in Uk,Brett in US,Victor,Shirley and of course you whom I can’t figure out in my 21 year old Brain at the Moment!

    Congragulations all the Team at WHYS especially Mark who has been there since the formation of WHYS in OCtober 2006

  19. 19 Shirley
    July 23, 2008 at 16:51

    Threaded Forums
    Bob’s threaded forum idea is very interesting to me. Until we get to that point, perhaps we WHYSayers could be more meticulous in labelling our posts not only with the person to whom we are replying, but also with the topic that we want to discuss. I have not been very good about this lately, esecially when I am directing my comments @ All – to everyone. I do like Brett’s idea of some ability to send messages only to mods. Sometimes, we lay WHYSayers don’t want the general public to see what we want to communicate to the mod(s).

    I also appreciate Dwight’s language idea. Some discussion forums make threads specific to language that are topic-general. The problem that I could foresee with language-specific foums at WHYS is moderator capabilities. However, as more people come on board as volunteer mods, we should gain more language skills with time. Another idea is to make a mult-lingual forum with languages permitted being restricted as per moderator capability. Understandably, this would mean that said forum would have to be closed at times, but it could serve as a start.

    I disagree with Mohammed Ali – I actually enjoy the free-style discussion that takes place after hours (cat & mouse).

    Justin, is that why we never hear from you any more? Blog length *is* a problem, then, isn’t it? Would a lo-fi version work better for you? Or do you really need posts to be threaded by topic? Also, what are examples of some of the difficulties of moderating discussion forums as you mentioned above?

  20. 20 Julie P
    July 23, 2008 at 17:03

    First and foremost, I have yet to have any problems with loading pages. I didn’t have problems with dial up, or with DSL. Occassinally pages will load blank, but another refresh takes care of that rather quickly. Second, keeping postings to a shorter, more conversational in length, would be more in line what WHYS is trying to accomplish. A global conversation on world events, both internationally and local. This could help with attracting more contributors. It was suggested over the weekend, or in the last couple of days, to have a preview button for a comment prior to posting. One benefit from this could be that contributors would see how much content is being submitted, not to mention other editting benefits.

  21. 21 nelsoni
    July 23, 2008 at 17:10

    Two hours of WHYS will be too long. An hour and half is more suitable. On the issue of Podcasts, in the summer months I believe, WHYS has two shows. But there is only one podcast and the podcast available for download is just for the first show only. Listeners in Africa do not have the opportunity to download the podcast for their own region

  22. 22 nelsoni
    July 23, 2008 at 17:27

    About Content: Today’s interactive media on any platform Web or Television is driven by User Generated content. I don’t subscribe to the idea that a moderator or any one should foist a topic on us to discuss in the era of breaking news. When I am coming to blog, I do so with a mindset that I can bring up any issue for discussion and if it’s interesting enough we can all discuss it. Let user generated content prevail.

  23. 23 Dinka Alpayo Aliap
    July 23, 2008 at 17:50

    The arrest of Kerijic and the expecting inditment of Omar Hassan El Bashir is a positive steps for the they innocents people but negative development for the criminals world .So if the world is to be a peaceful place let this two man open this way of injustices committed against other people cleared.

  24. 24 Mohammed Ali
    July 23, 2008 at 17:56

    Shirley, Misc
    I disagree with Mohammed Ali – I actually enjoy the free-style discussion that takes place after hours (cat & mouse).

    [b][/b] I agree with you Shirley. What get me frustrated is that whenever I bring up topics that are interesting about my country, Liberia, that can be related to many parts of the world, nobody seems to have any interest in it during the Talking Points period. All we are interested in discussing is Israel vs Palestine, Israel vs Hezbollah, Israel vs Iran, America, Britain, etc. We take no interest in knowing where the others come from and what issue affects them.

    For example I posted a topic:” Liberia’s President Patrol at Night”
    The high rate of crimes in Liberia actually caught the president’s attention that she had to patrol at night to assure the ordinary citizens that something will be done about it. These are topics High Crime Rate) that could related to most part of the world. But once it is not relating to those area mentioned above, nobody cares to discuss it. It is on this basis that I made that suggestion.

  25. 25 ZK
    July 23, 2008 at 17:58

    Say… Upton Park was chosen because Mark supports West Ham I suppose? 😉

    I’m quite happy with the status quo as is, actually. Don’t think a forum layout would be a good idea. I would think it becomes far too difficult to stay within BBC guidelines.

  26. 26 Justin from Iowa
    July 23, 2008 at 17:58

    Shirley, Forums tend to spread out. Unless you limit topic creation to just moderators, your topic numbers start to grow larger and larger, your moderators get more spread out, or you need more of them, and in most forums moderation comes in after the fact… posts aren’t moderated before they go up, but rather after. Often the damage is done allready, when a moderator comes in to clean up a post that shouldn’t have been made. That is just from the experience I’ve had on other forums I’ve been a part of. If a forum can be set up to bypass those worries, I’d be fine with that, no worries.

    And on topic lengths… yeah. During the week if I’m not out in the field I take lunches coinciding with whys and so post/follow the blog, as well as during the day in the office. But nights/weekends, well, you fix supper, you go out and take an hour of archery practice, you come in…. and wading through 50 posts to reach a point where you can intelligently respond to the ongoing discussion gets pretty onerous. Quadruple that for weekends… I usually try to contribute a topic of interest at the start of the discussions is all.

    On post length… length of posts doesn’t really bother me for the most part, because msot of the people who write long posts… have really good things to say! If a post looks too long witout some good content, I skip down the blog to the next, so I personally don’t see a problem with long posts.

  27. 27 Anthony
    July 23, 2008 at 18:04

    How about a live web cam feed for those with a fast connection. I’d LOVE to see the shows from other countries, like the recent ones in Africa, and the one in Cuba.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  28. July 23, 2008 at 18:05

    It was definately an interesting day.. i cant post liong i am late for my pre graduation dinner. ….. but one question i want to ask is does anyone think the ~WHYS community is exclusive? If so how can we make it more inclusive? Would you like WHYS to be more controversal?

    and one random question … what do bloggers think of video blogging?

    ps did y ou know that there is also an africa have your say… i didnt :S

    Dont be too downtrodden about today team it was all criticism with a good purposexxx

  29. 29 Will Rhodes
    July 23, 2008 at 18:07

    Can I just point out at this juncture – the mods on this blog do have posting rights so if a story does break they can write up a blogpost for it.

    You may have seen me do it a couple of times. So that isn’t a real problem. What could be is the confidence of the moderators. When you become a Moderator you are given guidelines you need to follow.

    TP (Talking Point) posts. Where I see a slight distinction is that we have our TP post which it is asked that the bloggers bring forward what they want to talk about the next day. Where I think that should change a little is more of a direction given as to what Ros and the team are thinking of using in the show the following day. I have seen a committed following to the Arab/Israeli conflict bringing the TP post back to that subject quite a few times. This and the Islam Vs the west. Just an observation by the way.

    Long posts – as it is said in so many communications – this is a community of people, YOU as posters can ask that a post be shorter, that’s the thing with self regulation.

    The legal side – This is a BBC blog! Whether you think this is just a few friends posting you always have to remember that it is The British Broadcasting Corporation. Remember to err on the side of legal when you post.

    Moderators should have instant communication – I believe that (this is not an advert) we should all be on something like MSN Messenger or other instant chat. I have my favourite but would download others to keep in contact.

    24/7 blog – fully agree with it, this day and age you really cannot be without it.

    The show – 2 hours long! During the show the only person(s) moderating and publishing posts should be those in the studio. They are part of the team on the ground. So they get the ‘feel’ of the show as broadcast.

    All this is just tweaking the show we have now – “Don’t fix what isn’t broken”

    PS, Sorry for the length of that post LOL

  30. 30 Vijay Srao
    July 23, 2008 at 18:11

    Upton Park ,the home of West Ham ,Oh dear, how completely inappropriate,aren’t they the most racist
    fans in the UK .It’s a complete antithesis of the BBC Worldservice ethos.
    My experience of West Ham fans was informed by a bus trip with 60 of them going to a game,not only did they shout racist abuse at passersby in an asian part of town but even abused little pakistani kids who were West Ham supporters(“Who the blank told you ,you could support the Hammers”)I didn’t get called a Paki,the people sitting near me seemed to think I was a Jew ,so there were a lot of Anti-Semetic comments ,and remarks about Stamford Hill,after the match on the return journey it was more of the same .

  31. 31 Will Rhodes
    July 23, 2008 at 18:14


    what do bloggers think of video blogging?

    Now I would be all for that – but for us poor sops on Dial-up that would have to be in a different section, but it’s a good idea!

  32. 32 Will Rhodes
    July 23, 2008 at 18:16

    ZK –

    Say… Upton Park was chosen because Mark supports West Ham I suppose?

    Stamford Bridge next? LOL

  33. 33 Vijay Srao
    July 23, 2008 at 18:21

    I agree with the analyst who stated WHYS had to be more proactive in getting their topics,but WHYS should be careful of so called “most viewed” or “favourite comments”
    Have Your Say is more domestic and themoderation is heavy and slow.
    WHYS should do some guerilla marketing on the web ,get out there and kind of advertise its presence ,to attract more listeners and bloggers.

  34. 34 nelsoni
    July 23, 2008 at 18:26

    WHYS Foundation: What we basically do on WHYS is set the agenda for the show, we contribute through various means in discussing Issues that we want to talk about and thats where it all ends. I sincerely believe that its time to translate words into actions. We discuss often very serious issues on WHYS and nothing is done about them. A WHYS foundation will help bring smiles to the faces of people world wide. The BBC World Service trust is a charity organization, WHYS Foundation can come under its umbrella. My point is this, Let’s move from the arena of just talking into actually making a difference in people’s lives on the ground. 🙂

  35. 35 Robert
    July 23, 2008 at 19:05

    Substantial changes that might be nice to see would be a system of flags or tags. That way if your interested in part of the conversation on a night but perhaps not others there is a means of filtering. It would also be nice sometimes to search previous comments on topics to see how the debate has evolved over time.

    Maybe the facility to search for comments from individual users.

    Something smaller might be short summary of any new and interesting topics discussed on the night blog during the show. It may be a short summary (say five minutes) of the discussion at the end of the show. Or it might be a very subtle mention of the topics as Ros makes the plug for the website (something like “and you can always check out the website were recent topics have included ……”). Its a small step but would tie the show and the blog even closer together and make it feel more even interactive.

  36. 36 Colleen
    July 23, 2008 at 19:25


    i agree with the ideas about labling comments so that the blog is easier to follow when many people are having many different conversations…


    Another thing that I was thinking about after I started reading the WHYS blog (i really love it by the way! ) was that there are so many people out there who want to make the world better. If there were more resources about how to take action on certain topics once the conversation is over it would be helpful…

    I know we can all search for organizations on our own, but with the amount of interested people reading this daily, there may be some better ways to mobilize our ideas and actually help influence what’s going on in addition to debating the issues… just a thought!

  37. 37 Vijay Srao
    July 23, 2008 at 19:30

    WHYS seems to be for the USA lunchtime and the African primetime audiences.
    For Asia and Oceania the programme is on too late.South Americans are non existent on the blog.Worldservice is no longer interested in Europe.Arabs are under represented.
    In two years time WHYS will be off the air, apart from an African show and an American show ,both two hours long.
    Censorship should be consisent not partisan,just because and editor or producer can’t take a legitimate comment.

  38. 38 Shirley
    July 23, 2008 at 19:36

    Forum vs Blog
    Justin, thank you for your input. I can understand the problems that you described and how things could fly out of hand due to insufficient mod capabilities. Aren’t there discussion forum formats, though, that allow moderators to mod the posts before they are posted, and that restrict thread-starting capabilities to mods? I know that I have seen forums in which posts do not appear until after they have been moderated.

  39. 39 Shaun in Halifax
    July 23, 2008 at 20:00

    How about including a real-time chatroom feature with the day’s topic? Or host it on another site to avoid associations with WHYS proper.

    That way the sniping that we all get into will have a forum and it won’t necessarily go back and forth and clog the blog and annoy the moderators. We can yell at each other to our heart’s content and not fill up the blog with it.

    As for the post length, I find that – generally speaking – the longer the post the more thought and attention has gone into them. It is very difficult sometimes to flesh out a point or idea in an easy-to-read 100-150 word post. Especially when we’re talking about the deep things like Israel/Palestine or American politics.

  40. 40 Dennis
    July 23, 2008 at 20:02

    I think that the BBC should have more resources to do more stories aboard [forgot to mentioned] the United Kingdom…

    Location of the summit: Probably someone on World Have Your Say team, must have like the team….Any guesses…

    Syracuse, New York
    United States of America

  41. 41 portlandmike
    July 23, 2008 at 20:31

    I agree with Will Rhodes.

    I think you have a tremendous radio program, and an interesting blog. A very interesting blog. Ive been poking my nose into online discussions since the BBS days in the 80’s and I think if you used a forum format we would be going backwards.

    I like the way the blog is moderated. I think that it would be easy for moderators to link up on msn IM, and it might be a good idea.

    I have no problems with the long posts. Some of them are outstanding. When I am moderating I read every word, but I can’t not post them just because they are long or even off point. Readers must learn who is who, and skim or skip posters that don’t resonate with their own views or opinions.

    As for the TV show, Ive posted before that I dont think it is a good idea. I especially enjoy the radio show when it is on the road.

    Preparation is key, and WHYS does a splendid job… although Julia was an unfortunate guest today.

    I hope that the BBC feedback feature that uses “have your say,” changes their wording ASAP!

  42. 42 Dennis
    July 23, 2008 at 21:08

    Changed the “have your say” Quickly…

    Syracuse, New York

  43. 43 Virginia Davis
    July 23, 2008 at 23:00

    @Shaun in Halifax: love “clog the blog” thanks (poet/me)

    @ request for comments on blog:

    Am content to see blog evolving. Very much liked all the variety of comments/countries in Africa when WHYS was there. Would seem more people read than contribute. Which I have no problem with. However: “variety is the spice of life.”

    24/7: Yes.

    Keep things current and changing with periodic reviews. Such as remember to label topics.

    Where to be in two years: more than several participants from each of the world’s regions.

    Follow up on suggestions to improve the lives of the moderators.


  44. 44 Bryan
    July 23, 2008 at 23:56

    Brett July 23, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    “Over the course of the past year or so people have really done a good job of using “@” and quoting comments which they are referring to making it a little easier to trace discussion.”

    I think it’s helpful to copy and paste the details of whoever you are responding to, as I’ve just done. Makes it easier to follow that particular debate. Or of course you can just right click and paste the link.

    Brett July 23, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    Would be good to see more moderators explaining why a post has been deleted with a short note under the name of the person whose post has been flushed down the loo.

    Hannah July 23, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    “….does anyone think the ~WHYS community is exclusive?”

    Absolutely. It’s a lot like a private club. But then so is the BBC…

    “If so how can we make it more inclusive?”

    For a start, try to limit the cosy back and forth chat about private lives and the sprinkling of smileys and exclamation marks all over the place. There are plenty of forums where people can chat about trivia. I was amazed when I first popped in here. I thought I must have made a mistake and couldn’t possibly be on a World Have Your Say blog dealing with serious issues and under the management of a worldwide broadcasting outfit.

    Try to make the moderation more consistently follow WHYS rules. Some comments containing little but personal abuse are allowed to stand. This gives the impression that the moderator either agrees with the abuse or doesn’t see it as abuse. You can, and probably do, drive people away with this behaviour.

  45. 45 Joey
    July 24, 2008 at 00:41

    I started to watch this show because there were some overseas programs and the title implies there is a global aspect to the program.
    I wish there was some statistics that said, or details what countries are being represented on the show, whose on the blog, and where people are calling in from etc.
    Then one could feel what the global community effect really is like and is almost more interesting than these long posts.

    New York, USA

  46. 46 Jack Hughes
    July 24, 2008 at 02:21

    How about a limiting PC topics to say one per week ?

    Let’s see what we have right now:

    Cuba (tick)
    St Nelson Mandela (tick)
    Barack Obamessiah (tick)
    AIDS (tick)
    Africa (tick)
    AIDS in AFRICA (tick squared)

    Very little from the UK or continental Europe, nada from S America, nothing from Aus or NZ. Canada ? Forget it.

    This might need a good long look in the mirror for some people.

  47. 47 Rick
    July 24, 2008 at 08:25

    I blog from a time zone black hole – Australia. Usualy the heat of the debate is well and truely gone by the time I read it. I often tag something on the end and it would be good if we had a method to notify a bloger that his blog has been responded to and debate could be continued on that page without stretching it into the next day’s subject. Also I notice some bloggers always try to bring the subject around their subject of interest no matter what the topic is.
    Perhaps we could have a permanent subject on the middle east (Israel) and another on religion. As one blogger put it the other day, Israel is a tiny country of 7 million people, why does it so dominate our media? and why does it so dominate our blog?

  48. 48 Bryan
    July 24, 2008 at 08:37

    I couldn’t agree more with Jack Hughes. It often seems that the choice of topics on WHYS is driven more by PC bias than an objective evaluation of the most important and relevant happenings currently on the world stage.

    One classic example:

    In January George W. Bush arrived in Israel at the same time as the beginning of the primaries for the Democratic and Republican nominations. I was amazed to find that on WHYS that evening there was nothing about the historic visit of the REPUBLICAN president of the most powerful country in the world to the Middle East, the world’s hot spot. Instead, we not only had enthusiastic coverage of the very beginning of the process to nominate the next president, but the show concentrated exclusively on the DEMOCRATIC nominations. I thought the Republicans must surely be having their primary some other time, until 5 minutes from the end of the show one of the American guests said, “We haven’t discussed the Republicans yet.” Well, quite. And they carried on not discussing the Republicans with no prompting by the host to include them.

    Can anyone from the BBC justify this extraordinary bias? The president made a powerful and moving speech to the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, in support of Israel. The BBC chose to ignore it – at least there was nothing on the World Service and I found nothing on the BBC News website.

    Was the BBC deliberately snubbing George Bush? Of course it was. And in so doing it was failing utterly in its duty to bring us important news in an impartial manner, no matter what personal opinions BBC staff might have on the president. Could be that the poster of George Bush as Hitler is still up in the BBC newsroom.

  49. 49 selena
    July 24, 2008 at 08:38

    @Jack Hughes

    You made my day! 🙂

  50. 50 nelsoni
    July 24, 2008 at 09:31

    @ Jack Hughes
    July 24, 2008 at 2:21 am

    Interactive media is driven by user generated content.

    Let the users decide what they want to talk about

  51. 51 Bob in Queensland
    July 24, 2008 at 09:48

    @ Bryan

    I think you’re mixing up trips. In January, Bush met with PM Olmert and President Abbas, then made a statement at the King David hotel. The statement itself was mainly platitudes and not overly newsworthy. You can read the text at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2008/01/20080110-3.html .

    It’s worth noting, that far from expressing total support for Israel, in the Q&A after the statement, Bush described the West Bank settlements as an impediment to the peace plan.

    The Knesset speech you mention was actually on his visit in early May this year.

    Now some specifics: if you check the time of the statement, you’ll see that it was at 5:27 PM local which, if my time conversion is right, means it started about 90 minutes before WHYS aired. Assume an hour for the address, then the Q&A, then even first reports to appear on the wires and you’re within half an hour of WHYS going on air–not a lot of time to get discussion going on the blog and find guests to participate…even assuming the story was deemed important enough to be a WHYS headliner. Not everyone is as focused on Israel and the middle east as you are.

    As for the emphasis on on the Democrats vs. the Republicans, I’d guess that if the Republicans had started the primaries with an African American running against at woman and the Democratic line up had been all white male…then the Republicans would have been a main WHYS topic.

    The fact of the matter is that, whatever the news, WHYS can only deal with one or two topics on any given day. Often the main stories don’t have much room for discussion (plane crashes and the like) and other times they’re things that have been discussed to death (Israel perhaps being in that category).

    I’m in partial agreement with Jack Hughes, not necessarily because of the “PC” issue but because it can be a bit “samey” . That’s why I was suggesting a few more quirky and unexpected topics…perhaps from locations we don’t often talk about.

  52. 52 Bryan
    July 24, 2008 at 10:12

    Rick July 24, 2008 at 8:25 am

    “Israel is a tiny country of 7 million people, why does it so dominate our media? and why does it so dominate our blog?”

    It’s a good question. Here are some answers:

    *Israel is at the centre of the ideological, religious and political divide between the Muslim East and the Christian West.

    *It is a country of tremendous archeological, historical, religious and, of course, political significance.

    *With the exception of America, Israel is alone among the world’s nations in attracting criticism and hatred way out of proportion to its real or imagined failings.

    *Some people feel obliged to defend Israel against constant vilification and propaganda and the debate escalates from there.

    But hey, Rick, you can always scroll past the Israel debate.

  53. 53 nelsoni
    July 24, 2008 at 10:16

    @ Bob in Queensland
    July 24, 2008 at 9:48 am

    “The fact of the matter is that, whatever the news, WHYS can only deal with one or two topics on any given day. Often the main stories don’t have much room for discussion (plane crashes and the like) and other times they’re things that have been discussed to death (Israel perhaps being in that category).”

    …” even assuming the story was deemed important enough to be a WHYS headliner. Not everyone is as focused on Israel and the middle east as you are.”

    I agree with you on these points..

  54. 54 Jonathan (starlit San Francisco)
    July 24, 2008 at 10:32

    For now just one little idea that’s been in my head for a few days now: I’d like to have the blog add Google Earth/Maps capability so that people could indicate exactly where they are, and we could see where relevant events are occurring, right down to satellite photos of the places. I think it’s a simple matter; I see it popping up on many blogs these days. It’s not demanding of bandwidth because it can be turned off by users who don’t or can’t use it.

  55. 55 Bryan
    July 24, 2008 at 11:06

    Bob in Queensland July 24, 2008 at 9:48 am,

    Yes, you are quite right. The Knesset speech was during the second visit. Apologies for that. But the point remains that the BBC ignored it. Re the January visit, you can try to bamboozle people with time frames and such, but the fact is that the BBC paid as little attention as humanly possible to Bush’s visit. If time was really the issue, why did the BBC continue to ignore Bush as the visit went on? This is behaviour unworthy of a public broadcaster sworn to impartiality.

    “Not everyone is as focused on Israel and the middle east as you are.”

    Well of course they aren’t (and I’m certainly not asking them to be) but that misses the point, which is that the BBC allows its bias to steer it away from certain topics – no matter how important they are – and towards others that suit it.

    “As for the emphasis on on the Democrats vs. the Republicans, I’d guess that if the Republicans had started the primaries with an African American running against at woman and the Democratic line up had been all white male…then the Republicans would have been a main WHYS topic.”

    I’m not sure you believe that yourself. Certainly the democratic candidates were more colourful and unusual and therefore more newsworthy, but to concentrate on them exclusively? It was not just that one show. The bias was evident right through the early stages of the primaries, even while the Republican nomination was still being contested. Are you really trying to tell me that the BBC does not support the Democrats against the Republicans? It’s like saying the BBC doesn’t support Labour against the Tories.

    Speaking of which, you didn’t come back to me on this comment:


    It was mostly a response to this statement of yours:

    “If you’re judging BBC impartiality (or the lack there of) on one 11 year old sound clip, have a look at the ENTIRE output. You’ll find things pretty closely balanced.”

    Play fair, Bob. You know very well that I don’t judge the BBC’s pro-Labour bias or any other bias on one incident. I have been following and commenting on the BBC’s bias for close to a decade. And the BBC’s pro-Labour and pro-Democratic Party bias and general pro-left wing stance is documented throughout the internet. It is only the extent of the bias that is debatable.

  56. 56 selena
    July 24, 2008 at 11:08


    I don’t think WHYS should get involved in such things as micro lending. There are organizations out there that do that well, or not, depending on the point of view.

    I envisage WHYS as an agent for change… not of the Obama kind;-)
    but a real conversation about how the world could change.

    It seems that now we are locked into a debate where there is no hope. Debate is not a vehicle for change. It rather guarantees same old, same old.

    If WHYS recognizes this, there is hope for a truly global conversation about how we have arrived at tis point in the history of humanity, if change is really desirable, and, if so, how to arrive at true change, not just the word.

  57. 57 Rick
    July 24, 2008 at 11:12

    Thank you Bryan, I do now, because I don’t feel the need to bore this blog with my views on this subject or others like BBC bias, over and over and over again like some. I’ve had my say and look forward to other subjects to comment on.

  58. 58 Rick
    July 24, 2008 at 11:37

    I agree, but how do we move from words to action?

    Action would take a personal commitment to all change our behaviour and all act the same way to achieve a particular purpose.

    We would need to agree on a subject then agree on an action.

    For example the subject could be Tibet, and the agreed action could be a commitment to avoid buying anything made in China.

    Perhaps scientific whailng and we could avoid Japanese products.

    Is that the sort of thing you were thinking about??

  59. 59 Jonathan (starlit San Francisco)
    July 24, 2008 at 11:40


    Apparently you’re responding to my post on July 24 talking points? If so, then we agree. I think that’s what I siad: WHYS needn’t and probably shouldn’t set up a foundation or other such enterprise. I cited kiva.org as an example of an organization out there that does well, to support my contention that it’s being done well already. And I proposed it as a topic for discussion and/or a story, because they’re so very cool.

    What debate do you see us locked into?

    What’s wrong with Obama’s change?

    And since I don’t think I shot your dog, care to provide a clue about why you scolded me a day or two ago? Preferably back in talking points for 7/24.

  60. 60 selena
    July 24, 2008 at 12:20


    You are no doubt right! I read the posts and sometimes forget the page. Thanks for remind me of my tendency to do that!

    And yes, it would be a good show!

    I don’t see WHYS (particularly) locked into a debate. Rather what I see is the continuation of an age old debate between people who would like to change the world for the better.

    It seems every generation has its compassionate people who find that change is easy to say but not so easy to accomplish.

    Obama change is evidence of the above… a genuine desire for change but just words, as ever, as I see it.

    Now, why did I scold you? Can’t remember exactly but I can say that you have a great way with words and you make me laugh. But sometimes… I think the person on the receiving end may not laugh. So, maybe I was trying to let you see that.

    Hope that doesn’t bother you! 🙂

  61. 61 selena
    July 24, 2008 at 12:27


    It is far too early to expect a personal commitment to change, in my view.

    The reason being we are of the opinion that everyone else must change, except us.

    That is the real stumbling block! It is quite simple, if one thinks about it. The reason nothing changes is because we believe we can remain the same while others have to change.

    So, the first discussion has to be about why we feel this way.

  62. 62 Jonathan (starlit San Francisco)
    July 24, 2008 at 13:02


    Change itself shouldn’t be a goal. Some change is good; some is bad. The first and most important thing is to learn and think and figure out essential, fundamental principles. Specifically, what really changes the world for the better, vs. what feels good, or seems like it will change for the better, but doesn’t.

    The most prominent example of the latter, misguided notion was of course socialism. In theory, if one didn’t know better, it was a recipe for earthly paradise. In practice, it produced poverty and despair. Fortunately we’re done with that, but the lesson of 70 years and untold millions of lives sacrificed for misguided idealism shouldn’t be lost.

    Less dramatically, I offer the vision of Richard Branson proudly announcing his cmmitment to fight global warming by a huge project to make…. fuel from corn. Ooops!

  63. 63 Bob in Queensland
    July 24, 2008 at 13:05

    @ Bryan

    Regarding Bush in Israel, one thing you have to realise is that, on their domestic services in particular but also on the World Service output, a common theme of criticism of the BBC is that they spend too MUCH time covering American politics and politicians. FYI, this also applies to their coverage of the primaries and now the campaign which, even to me with an interest in the topic, seems excessive.

    As for the editorial content on the day, it’s hard to comment on how Bush’s visit compared in importance to other things. I’ve tried a Google on the date but haven’t really come up with a good picture of what was happening those days. Based on the content of Bush’s statement, I didn’t see anything new or earthshattering there. Just as not everyone shares your over-riding interest in Israeli politics, they also don’t share the American passion for following every movement of the US President, be he Republican or Democrat. Days and even weeks could go by without me knowing what Clinton was up to eitther!

    As for the link to our earlier discussion on BBC bias, apologies, I didn’t go back to that topic after the the next TP was posted. In any case, there’s not much more I can say on this to convince you other than repeat a comment I made over in today’s talking points. I think you manage to confuse the lack of absolute support for the conservative cause as being anti conservative. The BBC is mandated to be impartial and if they get caught showing bias (and they ARE monitored) they get into trouble. In the UK it is common for both political parties to accuse them of anti-Labour or anti-Conservative bias which to me says they must be somewhere in the middle. Beyond that, we’ll have to agree to disagree–with my final comment being “if the BBC is so bad, the channel switch is always at your disposal”.

  64. 64 selena
    July 24, 2008 at 13:09


    Perhaps changes shouldn’t be a goal but change is, after all, just a word. It can mean anything we want it to mean.

    So, are we satisfied with the world as it is? If yes, then things can stay business as usual, as always.

    (We can get our jollies out of saying we want change, just for the sake of something to say.) 😉

    If we are truly not satisfied, then what would we like to see different?

  65. 65 Roberto
    July 24, 2008 at 15:54

    The BBC is mandated to be impartial and if they get caught showing bias (and they ARE monitored) they get into trouble.

    —– Of course the next thing that can be slung about is that those doing the monitoring are biased.

    I find all this liberal/conservative chest thumping as nothing but a big show by those in need of simple one word labels to understand a complex world.

    The blog is instructive in seeing some different POVs from different geographies and cultures, but it seems quite unfocused at times and without purpose. Is it a gossip column, conversation, a discussion, debate, rant, a screed, or nothing but opinions?

    As my modest suggestion, I’d like to see a quote feature added.

    I’ve never had a post removed, but have been warned obliquely twice for some mysterious offense. The topics of politics, race, religion, ect need to be robust or they will be a weak, tepid tea offering little satisfaction..

  66. 66 Bryan
    July 24, 2008 at 22:56

    Bob in Queensland July 24, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    I’d be interested to see an example of the BBC getting into trouble over bias. What would the punishment be – a fine they’d have to pay out of money coerced from the public in the first place?

    But yes, we’ll have to agree to disagree.

    Re your channel switching suggestion, as long as the BBC continues with biased coverage I will continue to try to expose it.

  67. 67 Jack Hughes
    July 25, 2008 at 06:48


    The BBC bias is best described as a “progressive group-think”. Here is an example:

    Whale hunting. I have no views either way – I would be interested in hearing from the hunters and from the greenies.

    Instead we never hear a squeak from the hunters. We never find out how many jobs are involved, how many people are fed. The BBC has never “embedded” a reporter on a whaling boat.

    But equally well the BBC start off with the assumption that all right-thinking people are opposed to whaling. Self-evident. So we never get to hear why whales are special – and unlike other sea creatures or other mammals which we happily kill and fry. The BBC even embedded a reporter with the GreenPeace boat recently.

    So a biased worldview leads to poor reporting.

  68. 68 Rick
    July 26, 2008 at 08:19

    On the recent subject of trusting nuclear power, one blogger gave us 12 huge bloggs in a row without stopping. That’s enough to kill any discussion in my view. He may have been knowledgable but obviously wasn’t intrested in discussion.

  69. 69 peter mose
    August 4, 2008 at 18:28

    after reading some of the run ups on this it sounds like some people would prefer
    the format ends up the same as DOES THE TEAM THINK !

    also check it out, the very people who want less type on paper are the very people going to greatest lengths to express how they feel?

    it could be me but ,have a look.

    peter mose
    fully trackable

  70. 70 peter mose
    August 4, 2008 at 19:33

    some of the comments indecate what is true ,as soon as some one gets appointed
    as keeper of the flame ,they seem to get a cleque on the go,=how are you /missed you /my dearest/and lots of ilrelivant chit chat,

    then someone surgests these people should act as [moderators ] the whole thing then starts to look like somthing from the office,

    other people have made comment as to why is it those appointed ones are so focused on israel/palistine/ africa/ any where but england/europe/ and the like,
    i would think that there are some issues closer to home that might need an airing,

    but then we the blogers what do we know.

    peter mose
    fully trackable

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