To cover or not to cover

The programme that I produce - World News America - has as its primary mission to bring smart and sophisticated BBC coverage of international issues and events to an American audience.

But we also aspire to offer distinctive coverage of stories inside America, and in the ten months since we launched the program, that has mainly meant covering Presidential politics.

Of course there's no shortage of political reporting in the US at the moment; frankly, it's more like a glut. So our effort, as I've said before, is to focus on the quality of our coverage rather than the quantity.

Last week provides an interesting example. We made a deliberate decision to steer clear of the whole flap over the McCain campaign ad comparing Obama to Britney and Paris, and the subsequent back-and-forth about whether Obama had or had not "played the race card."

It all struck me as much ado about nothing...campaigns and candidates cynically trying to throw each other off-stride, nothing at all to do with the really important problems facing the country; precisely the kind of stuff that has made so many Americans so fed up with our current politics.

Of course it got a huge amount of play in other US media, and when I picked up the Washington Post on Saturday and saw that it had devoted its entire editorial page to the disputes, I have to confess to wondering whether I had made a bad call, and missed a big story.

Then I read every one of the essays in the Post. All written by extremely knowledgeable and able Washington insiders, they focused exclusively on questions of campaign tactics. Had McCain rattled Obama? Had Obama made an "unforced error?" Had McCain gone too negative too fast? Who had the better week?

Those pieces - and the story in general - were no doubt lapped up by campaign junkies. But there wasn't a single mention of an issue for almost an entire week, and precious little discussion of the actual qualities and characteristics the next American President ought to have.

I absolutely love the story of this election, and I'm proud of our coverage so far. And, despite a few moments of doubt over my Saturday coffee, I'm glad we ignored the nonsense of last week.

Rome Hartman is executive producer of BBC World News America

sophisticated a. 富有經驗的; 高度發展的
aspire to 渴求
glut  n. 供應過多
steer clear of  避開
subsequent a. 後來的;隨後的
much ado about nothing 無事生非
cynically  adv. 愛嘲笑地 
confess to 承認
tactics n. 戰術,用兵學

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