Are we getting our subjects right?

We got criticised yesterday for doing a story ‘beneath the BBC’. Steve in Virginia said ‘There’s got to be something more newsworthy than this!’ And there are more criticisms today. This is just in from Crispo in Uganda:

I must ask you, why you chose such a topic whose significance stopped at least on a small extent yesterday? Why is it that important topics are always shunned for quite useless and undevelopmental topics?

Haven’t we had enough of this discussion, by the way it goes on everyday. Is it our fault that women do not feel comfortable with their bodies?

For Gods sake Ros, stop piling this wonderful show with trivial issues as these. You made me outraged and i apologise if i sound harsh, but am being sincere with you and myself.

Why did you decline picking the drug issue or the world war that has changed how we live forever?

Sometimes you need prudence and pick topics according to its world relevance and not merely because you are gender sensitive or everybody seems to be talking about it. If that is what all leaders did, we’d still be very much undeveloped.

Crispo in Uganda

33 Responses to “Are we getting our subjects right?”

  1. 1 Ros Atkins
    September 4, 2009 at 16:07

    Another just in from Greg:

    Ros, aren’t there more important things on the world’s plate we could be listening to?

  2. 2 steve
    September 4, 2009 at 16:18

    Oh lord, well, it was an interesting show at least. Just seems a bit tabloidish. I think today’s show is more serious, and something can be learned.

  3. 3 Maccus Germanis
    September 4, 2009 at 16:25

    Well, it appears that yesterday’s show, which didn’t strike me as very compelling, did at least generate a great many comments. But then comments don’t seem to have been as tightly censored as is the usual case with more contentious debates.

  4. 4 Dave in Florida
    September 4, 2009 at 16:28

    Yesterday WHYS went in the direction of “Tabloid Radio.”
    It was trivial and not interesting, and I tuned out after ten minutes. Obviously we can not all agree on what is newsworthy, and what I find interesting may cause others to fall asleep. However, I find it difficult to believe WHYS could not come up with a more newsworthy topic than yesterday’s discussion.

    Everyone has a bad day Ros – including me.

  5. 5 Jessica in NYC
    September 4, 2009 at 16:29

    WHYS team,

    In the diverse world we live in the same issues are not always going to peek everyone’s interest, but I can stay, as a loyal listener, have learned more about people in remote areas to me and issues that I would not have otherwise heard about.

    On what I consider “fluff” topics such as fashion or pop culture, I’m always intrigued by people’s wide range of opinions, especially when a comments is one that I had not thought about that causes me to see an issue differently. I don’t always agree with your topics, but as you point out, topics are chosen based on what hot issues the world is discussing. So, yes. You are getting it right.

    Good job!

  6. 6 Nigel
    September 4, 2009 at 16:30

    I think that you got it right if the subject is determined by what people respond to on the web. You certainly attracted great numbers of comment. What dissapointed me in the debate is that the common thread was that a woman’s body, whether it meets the demands of conventional beauty or does not but is a comfortable fit to the owner, is more important than her acheivements, her personality or just who she is. Even the most avid femminist tended to concentrate on the body and in fact tended to commercilize and make that the object of the discussion. I am no prude and find that beautiful women in the classic sense generally have an air of self assuredness that I find attractive. But say what…..I’m only a man.

  7. September 4, 2009 at 16:35

    Hey Ros… WHYS is about what people around the world want to discuss and debate, so if people around the world want to discuss the photo of Lizzie the super-model, then Lizzie the super-model it is… However, I am really amazed that other more pressing topics didn’t capture the attention of your international audiance, but at the same time I do have a complete trust in your credibility, and I am not going to discard the opinions of our friends around the world who thought that the topic of Lizzie the super-model really deserved to make it to air, but honestly, there are really more pressing topics on the international stage at the moment than Lizzie the supermodel and her nude photo… With my love… Yours forever, Lubna…

  8. 8 gary
    September 4, 2009 at 16:36

    There are an incredible number of important stories WHYS should consider, but there also stories that entertain or that help many listeners address some issues in their personal lives (as did yesterday’s program). There must be balance amongst interest, importance, and entertainment (It must be fun, or many of us won’t listen.) and I think you and your team do a good job at striking this reasonable balance.

  9. 9 Dennis Junior
    September 4, 2009 at 16:40


    No, I don’t think that you and the WHYS is getting the subjects off that good lately…I have no problems with the blogs….

    =Dennis Junior=

  10. 10 anu_d
    September 4, 2009 at 16:48

    You are skewing your subjects away from your self defined…. “what people in the world are talking about and what’s relevant to them”…….. TO…..what will get me more hit-counts and commnet count on my web-site.

  11. 11 surender pal
    September 4, 2009 at 16:55

    i think bbc is doing a splendid job.

  12. September 4, 2009 at 16:59

    Variety is the spice of life and having different subjects for discussion is extremely sensible indeed. There is nothing wrong with the subject on women and the attention they get. That is a fact of life. The criticism is unfounded. The Have Your Say editorial staff should be congratulated for injecting variety! Well done Ross.

  13. 13 p ayers
    September 4, 2009 at 17:02

    Women can’t be satisfied with their bodies because they are always being scrutinized mostly about them. Their intelligence, their contributions and the really important aspects of their lives seem of secondary importance in a commercialized, image-obsessed world. Women alone are the ones who can change all of this by refusing to submit to idiotic, impossible and many times painful and torturous “demands” of beauty. By taking control and no longer crumbling to another’s demands on what she “should” look like, she will finally get dignity and real control over her life and her emotional security.

  14. September 4, 2009 at 17:24

    I am incensed by the arrogance and condescension of those who view the importance of world matters ONLY in the context of war, poverty, economy, etc. The public forum of WHYS is designed to promote understanding and the topic of “a woman’s acceptance of herself in the healthy skin she is born in” is obviously one that could use some open-air understanding… both by the majority of women who suffer the burden of self-criticism and by the men who “don’t get it”. Since women are the majority population, AND since the narrow Western artificial “ideal” of beauty is now infecting all of the world, the topic of a woman’s psychological well-being ranks with all of the other important world topics in the impact it has on the economic, emotional and social health of women AND that of the men who share their work and personal lives with those women. Those who see no merit in this topic ought to listen hard to today’s program and step into a woman’s stiletto high heels before they preen on the public stage believing they have ANY insights of merit on ANY world issue.

  15. 15 Jennifer
    September 4, 2009 at 17:50

    I am conflicted on this. On one hand, the topic yesterday seemed silly for causing such an uproar. On the other, it showed that some still have unreasonable expectations and reinforce stupid stereotypes.

    I think WHYS does a pretty good job on this.

  16. September 4, 2009 at 17:57

    The BBC for many years has been the trusted source for news, sports etc. It has also been a pioneering force in starting debates using such platforms like Question Time and WHYS. The question isn’t if you’re getting your subjects right, but if people are interested on such subject matters. Regardless if they are or not, you are the ones who can pick and choose the topics and judging by the response of yesterdays callers, twitter feeds and emails, its fair to say, nobody should doubt what topics you pick because your always going to arouse interest.

    Keep it going and all the best.

  17. 17 Anthony
    September 4, 2009 at 18:06

    “One mans trash is another mans treasure”

    Theres plenty of things that I find to be a stupid topic, that many are very passionate about, and visa versa. Over all you guys are doing a great job.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  18. 18 Jennifer from Albany, New York
    September 4, 2009 at 18:11


    The people that you quoted at the begining of the show should pay attention to what is said here today……it’s a very real issue and it effects woman around the world……..if they don’t know that…….that’s the audienace that should be listening maybe they can learn something they didn’t know about the woman in their lives…….

  19. 19 Jennifer from Albany, New York
    September 4, 2009 at 18:13

    ….i sent the first response before i spell checked it! sorry…..


    The people that you quoted at the beginning of the show should pay attention to what is said here today……it’s a very real issue and it effects woman around the world……..if they don’t know that…….that’s the audience that should be listening maybe they can learn something they didn’t know about the woman in their lives…….

  20. 20 Shannon in Ohio
    September 4, 2009 at 18:19

    Please, WHYS—understand that women in many places in the world are considered animals–they have no vote, let alone a dignified and autonomous life.

    Given all those required burquas, I have no idea about female tummies in Afgahnistan, but, apparently, the women there were, understandably, too afraid to vote in their own country’s election in that oppressive, patriarchal society.

  21. 21 Roy, Washington DC
    September 4, 2009 at 18:20

    WHYS is a discussion forum, not a news show. Newsworthiness should not be the only thing that is considered when selecting a topic, and it’s good that it isn’t.

  22. 22 Shannon in Ohio
    September 4, 2009 at 18:27

    Here in the U.S. , my people were, for generations, dairy farmers. Some of the comments about the aforementioned tummy, from men and women alike, remind me of my grandfather and my uncles slapping the back of fat cow and pronouncing her “Very Dairy”, or, pronouncing a skinny cow “Bad dairy.” God.

  23. 23 Tom D Ford
    September 4, 2009 at 18:29

    Aren’t people confusing WHYS with a news program? Isn’t the whole idea different, to just yak about whatever people seem most interested in today?

    Lots of times I have no interest or knowledge in the topic and i don’t participate but I don’t insist that you only address me and my interests.

    Maybe some people need to just get over themselves and find out that there are other people with other interests in the world.

  24. 24 Nelson Isibor
    September 4, 2009 at 18:34

    Over the years, WHYS has built a formidable platform for initiating global conversations on a wide range of topics. Sometimes certain topics appeal to a global audience sometimes it does not. From experience, it’s not exactly easy packaging a WHYS show within such a short time.

    Some where on this website reads … The daily interactive news program where you set the agenda. It’s a daily interactive news program yes! but whether the listeners really set the agenda is up for debate.

  25. 25 bjay
    September 4, 2009 at 18:39

    Ye, this kind of a story perhaps batter,
    then watching the door-paints to dry.
    No wonder it is a ‘billion dollar industry’ .


  26. 26 Susan
    September 4, 2009 at 18:50

    2 days of WHS for one roll of fat !!! I’m sure there are more important and more interesting issues. How about Mc Donald’s Un happy meals and the cruelty inflicted on new born chicks

  27. 27 patti in cape coral
    September 4, 2009 at 20:20

    I’ve had the flu for the past two days, so I didn’t get to hear the show, although I did comment on the blog once I felt better. In general, I agree with Tom D Ford. Sometimes the topic doesn’t interest me, but I don’t expect it to interest me every time. It’s just a little weird to me that so many people complained at the same time there were so many comments on the subject.

    Sometimes I don’t comment at all, not because I’m not interested, but because I don’t know much about the subject and am just learning about it by listening and reading the blog. In any case, I think it was Lincoln that said “You can please some of the people all of the time, or all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.”

  28. 28 Steve in Boston
    September 5, 2009 at 02:42

    Since I spend most of my time thinking about women’s bodies anyway, I thought it was a timely and appropriate topic.

  29. 29 James Ian
    September 5, 2009 at 06:31

    I thought this was all for fun and to be thought provoking. Yeah, silly and pointless sometimes but it’s all for fun right. Sometimes by talking about the irrelevant you brush on relenabt issues too. I don’t know I think it’s all fun and I would say most of the time the isses on here are worth discussing. I don’t think we are going to save the world with anything writen on here so lets just have fun and maybe learn something along the way.

  30. 30 Jim Newman
    September 5, 2009 at 13:01

    Hello again
    I have the feeling that WHYS uses these seemingly anodine subjects to take a breather from flack they get when subjects attract controversy.
    I read the requirements for suggesting a subject to be debated.
    A subject of general interrest that would even get a taxi driver in Tokio going.
    The subject I thought of, in my innocence, was based on the question: Is the USA administration a terrorist organisation?.
    I didn’t hear anything further but I think it earned me a serious black mark because even some of my non-contraversial comments were censored. I even had the feeling that if they could have censored my very existence they would have done.
    Anyway joking aside I still live in hope that WHYS will eventuelly live up to it’s name.

  31. September 5, 2009 at 13:50

    Subject matter is inextricably linked to genre. You are primarily a news prog. News by its nature covers every subject under the sun. Unless you are going to change your genre to something more narrowly defined you are certain to choose the tabloid option of everything under the sun which like it or not is still flavour of the hour worldwide. The result unfortunately and invevitably is intermittent dumbed down listening alongside the more elevated stuff.

  32. 32 Todd in Wisconsin
    September 6, 2009 at 16:51

    We definitely have more interesting things to read about. For instance, why is the “leader”of Hamas living in Syria instead Gaza like the rest of Hamas and the other Palestinians?
    The answer is because he is too good to live in the conditions that people like himself, the Hamas leadership,have created for “their” people.

  33. 33 T
    September 7, 2009 at 16:04

    How many of you know about these?:
    Van Jones resigning
    The resl story in Afghanistan
    Sibel Edmonds

    If you don’t know any of these, all the more reasons for WHYS to talk about them.

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