A discussion began at The Sharpener about why US blogging has a proportionately bigger readership, and more influence, than UK blogging; and it has been picked up by Martin Stabe and the Curious Hamster.
One explanation that has been offered is that the US mainstream media is worse than the UK media – so bloggers there fill a void. Brian Barder (aka my Dad) doesn’t agree:
For generally balanced and well informed comments on current issues, comprehensiveness of news coverage, and the essential separation of news from comment, I would argue that the New York Times and the Washington Post are superior to any British newspaper with the partial exception of the Financial Times, which is anyway these days almost as much an American as a British paper, and which doesn’t lay claim to the status of a journal of record.
I agree, and not just out of filial loyalty, that the US print media is at least as good as, and in many ways superior to, the UK newspapers.
But I am not swept along with his idea that broadcast coverage of news and current affairs is any match for the UK media. We have 80 channels of cable TV here at home and we don’t switch on the set from one week to another. I get all my broadcast news from BBC Radio 4 and the World Service. I suspect my father’s perspective suffers from:
- selection bias – he is comparing the best US programs which are rebroadcast internationally (or which he sets aside time to watch) with everyday TV he watches in Britain;
- seeing the international version of CNN rather than the domestic version (which is almost unwatchable)
- focusing on TV rather than radio – there are no radio stations in the US that come close to matching the quality of BBC radio.
Finally, if the Foreign Office has a budget to promote Britain’s reputation abroad, it could use it to pay the BBC not to show BBC America which consists of nothing but reruns of dismal sitcoms like "Keeping Up Appearances".