Perfect Stranger

This was originally posted with my application for MA Broadcast Journalism at City University, London as an original critique on a radio programme within a 200-word limit, along with another one on a television programme, on 14th March 2011. Wish me luck!

From Our Own Correspondent (FOOC)
Date: March 10, 2011
Length: 28:18
First broadcast on Radio 4, then made available as a podcast.

One of Radio 4’s oldest flagship broadcasts, the entire premise of the programme feels like a relic from the World Service’s war-time stereotype.  The received pronunciation and slow, scripted speech does little to endorse its mission to ‘bring a personal perspective to world news’.  Instead, these professional journalists and correspondents present an anecdotal view of ‘my friend Bernard’ in the Ivory Coast and the café preferences of the driver of the press vehicle in Libya.

Yet without these snapshots, we would be unable to understand the instantaneous fact-driven news which chooses only headline developments.  The benefit is of an explorative journalist who is able to not just chase expert sources to back up his lead but also provide a context into sometimes the seemingly insignificant, the unexpected and the mundane.

These tales are treated with equal weight – Kate Adie at the top of the programme does not discriminate between life in a civil warzone and a band ‘playing their way out of Poverty’ in the Congo, resisting temptations to state ‘and finally…’ in that derogatory offbeat newsreader cliché.  FOOC points to its wider relevance as a microcosmic tale of the area which that correspondent is charged with covering.