Saturday, 3 November 2018

Is 'Beyond Today' tomorrow? (Probably not)


Having written about it last weekend I thought I ought to at least sample Beyond Today - the podcast offshoot of the Today programme aimed at a younger, newer audience. So I tried Thursday's edition 'What's up with WhatsApp?', presented by Matthew Price. 

Was it something new and exciting? Well, except for Matthew going for that younger audience by speaking slower and asking some stupid-sounding questions which he obviously already knew the answer to (won't da youth find that a bit patronising?), it didn't seem that much different to the rest of the BBC's current affairs output. 

And Matthew talked exclusively to other BBC reporters - namely Juliana Gragnani from BBC News Brasil and Kim Gittleson in New York. (Maybe Kim covers for Nick Bryant when he's in Washington - which he always seem to be?). 

I had to rewind during Kim Gittleson's bits though to check that she was a BBC reporter as she sounded highly opinionated. (Maybe she's a Katty Kay understudy?). 

And the subject was ‘fake news’. (Yes, so early on in the series). 

The BBC, of course, were the defenders of 'true news' here against the big, bad social media companies (who just happen to be their commercial rivals).

The starting point was the contention that misogynistic, homophobic, racist Jair Bolsonaro won in Brazil because of WhatsApp's role in spreading 'fake news', and there was a passing suggestion that hate speech and political violence might have risen because of Donald Trump. 

Lots of smoke, little fire.

Is Beyond Today going to catch on? 

I have to say I can't - on the strength of this episode - see how it will appeal to people who aren't already Radio 4 listeners. It just sounded exactly like Radio 4. 

If existing Radio 4 listeners start liking podcasts it might survive, for a while at least. 

Other episodes in its first week dealt with 'middle class drug abuse' (how Radio 4 is that!) and Instagram (is it "dangerous"? - which sounds much the same as the episode I heard!), and there was an extended interview with Amol Rajan, the BBC's Media Editor and regular Radio 4 presenter (oooh!). 

Maybe I'm not its target audience though and am wrong. Or maybe I'm its wrong target audience and am right. You're as free as this blog is to read to listen for yourselves and decide. 

1 comment:

  1. Kim Gittleson seems to spend her days looking for negative economic news - bad time to be employed doing that in the USA.

    She took the trouble to retweet this (below) from Dave Lee, the BBC's Silicon Valley Reporter (yet another reporter based in the USA!).

    Dave Lee rather gives the game away. The official BBC line is that newsworthiness determines how much coverage a demo gets...nothing to do with the BBC's views...But look at what Dave Lee says:

    "Google employees planning to join Women's Walk on Thursday, I'd love to hear from you, on or off the record. DMs open, signal number in bio, will meet in person if needs be. We want to give your protest as much coverage as we can."

    Can you imagine the BBC sending out a similar invitation to
    people planning to attend a Free Tommy March?

    https://twitter.com/DaveLeeBBC/status/1057383676617490437

    Also isn't it odd that he's using his private twitter account for reaching out to the public re BBC business? (Including offering to meet Google women in person.)

    By the way, this "walkout" has all the signs of being a Fake Protest fully approved of by Google as a bit of useful virtue signalling.

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