Why I get my news from the BBC

Yes, I am an American and I use the BBC for my news. You get a better quality of writing than in the US (save perhaps the New York Times and WSJ) and it also provides a filter for American hype. The Beeb is somewhat conservative for a British news organ, but it’s a more left-leaning country so it’s more balanced than most US news outlets. Furthermore, since they have less skin in our game, there is far less partisan yellowing of the coverage. The BBC has a moderately good immunity against trash-sensationalism, to which the US news outlets are prone. With that immunity we also get the occasional wry reference to the propensity to be over-concerned with ourselves here in America. And you get a healthy leavening of world news, which IMHO would help a number of my countrymen get a better feel of how the U.S. fits in the rest of the world. The rest of the world being a place where most of the world lives, and from which come many good ideas. Both of these latter qualities I think make for a better citizen. Not just better informed, but also with a more complete point of view.

Last of all, the BBC has a great news app for iPhone and Android. So does the Economist. The Economist is also a fantastic news magazine, and you can think of them as the TL:DR version of the BBC: extremely well-written, reasonably balanced, and even self-aware where they are biased. Also, the Economist is useful for, get this, gauging the economy: they do data-driven coverage of economic trends (along with a lot of general news) and they do it well, with charts that make sense and do not insult the reader with stupid, cartoony visualizations like you find in USA Today.

So sue me, I’m a news snob. But get this: I know who Mario Draghi is, not to mention the UK Prime Minister (most Americans stopped on the street have no idea) and I can find Yemen on a map. Maybe you say that is not so useful to know. But get this: a year before the US property market blew up, the Economist ran an article on the overheating housing markets in the US, Spain and the UK, illustrated with a single, succinct line graph of housing prices. IIRC, they also showed wage growth (far below housing increases). The geometric increase in home prices was clearly unsustainable. At that time I told various relatives who had real estate investments (or ready to unload their home to downsize for retirement) to sell. They didn’t listen.

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About H.W. MacNaughton

Technologist and communicator. Into technology, jazz, Formula One, sci-fi and any good writing about real stuff.
This entry was posted in Economics, Meta and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Why I get my news from the BBC

  1. Pingback: Thought-reading patents increasing | Pat Hayden Jones

  2. sue sneauflak says:

    ‘ You get a better quality of writing than in the US (save perhaps the New York Times and WSJ) …forgot Fareed Zakaria (CNN)

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