Could the BBC news culture, which thrives in the U.K.,be transferred to the U.S.? Americans seem to have a better system in place to deal with international requests.
As the saying goes, Brits and Americans are divided by a common language. And this assertion could not be any more evident than in the way each country runs its TV news operations.
In one report, BBC America News showed Britain’s Prince Harry interviewing former U.S. President Barack Obama on BBC Radio 4, while the TV reporter focused on the critical view that Obama had taken over the irresponsible use of social media by elected officials (without mentioning President Trump by name).
The same news item viewed on U.S. TV network ABC instead focused on a question raised after the interview — that of whether or not Obama was going to be invited to Prince Harry’s impending royal wedding to American actor Meghan Markle.
Switch now to the way British and American newsrooms operate and the picture shown is completely different.
A few months earlier, I had called the ABC newsroom in New York City to request information about an event that the network was going to cover, using the contact information posted on their website.
The answer came within two hours, which allowed me to complete a news story on time for a daily newspaper.
Days later, I called the Washington, D.C. news office of BBC America in the hope of acquiring some reference material about a news segment from its daily BBC News America broadcast (which, in my area, airs on WNET-Channel 13 Monday through Friday).
The segment I was looking for (about President Trump’s new tax reform) couldn’t be found on the BBC website — a site that is so confusing and so difficult to navigate that only tech geniuses can probably figure it out. Add to that the fact that there is much confusion between BBC News U.K. and BBC America here in the U.S.
As I searched the BBC’s various websites for a contact, I found several telephone numbers — both in the U.S. and in the U.K. — that simply did not work. I was eventually able to locate an online inquiry form, which I used to ask for assistance.
Meanwhile, in order to find the correct U.S. telephone number, I reached out to the National Association of Broadcasters in Washington D.C., and my friends there were able to provide it.
But then, after being bounced around to various offices, and finally being assured that a BBC staff member would e-mail me the information, what I got instead was a request to contact Christopher Chafin, a senior publicity manager at the BBC’s New York City office.
Unfortunately, no one ever answered that phone, and a follow-up to the same e-mail address that I received the request from did not produce any answers.
Meanwhile, a “Robert” (no last name was provided) in Viewer Relations did eventually respond to the online form I filled out on the BBC America website. It simply stated that: “BBC World News no longer broadcasts on BBC America, as more U.S. viewers now have access to BBC World News 24/7.” The e-mail also included a warning not to reply to that e-mail, but to refer back the same BBC America website where I had found the online form in case I had any further inquiries!
And this, in my view, perfectly illustrates how the two nations are not only divided by a common language, but also by their news operations!
(By Dom Serafini)
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