Saturday, January 07, 2006

Why BBC Beats CNN Every Time

Finding the best online news source is a challenge. I usually read World Magazine, because I like their perspective on things. But their news offering is AP, and you can get that from almost anywhere, so I've found myself looking for more, particularly in the area of international news (which most American sources do a poor job of covering).

Many times, the place I end up is the BBC. The sheer scope of their offerings, along with the commitment to global coverage, makes them very attractive.

But here's a comparison of BBC & one of the leading US sites, CNN, on Sharon's stroke, followed by other reasons I like BBC so much.
BBC's coverage of Sharon's stroke, and CNN's coverage of the same story.

BBC's layout, to me at least, seems cleaner. They have news items, plus links to related stories. CNN has some also, but they also have annoying ads, and in the same color scheme, no less. Not only is CNN trying to sell you something with ads, but they're also slogging their new "pipeline" feature--permium streaming web content.

Here's where the BBC really shines. Over to the left-hand side are links to different languages. Obviously, their offering in English is much stronger. But I love the other language features--including a section on learning other languages. CNN has nothing like this depth of offerings. They offer Korean, Arabic, Japanese, and Turkish, but no other European languages. In fact, although many links exist to CNN en EspaƱol, the site is little more than another advertisement--this one for their Spanish programs.

My favorite language offering from the BBC is actually the reverse--taking other views and translating them into English. BBC Monitoring translates a cross-section of commentary on a particular topic from foreign language newspapers and translates it into English. There is nothing else like it on the Web (if you know of something, please let me know.)

To be fair, the Beeb is a quasi-government agency, while CNN is part of a private company. CNN tries to do one thing well, and that's provide news in English (pls the four other languages I mentioned). But at times it seems like their website is setup mainly to push people back to their cable offerings--in a sense, using the news as advertising. It never really seems to exist on it's own, apart from the cable stations.

Before I finish, I'll add a word about bias. Some might complain that there is anti-American bias at the BBC. What I read doesn't seem to appear from that same weakness. The existence of bias at the BBC might be more than American news organizations, and is probably on par with the CBC, but it's certainly less than China or Cuba (all of which I listen to through shortwave from time to time). Ultimately, it's impossible to be completely free of bias, even if it's unintentional; and if you can ferret out a particular organization's bias, it can potentially remain a useful source of information. (Disclaimer here: since I listen to shortwave, and the BBC is the grandaddy of all shortwave offerings, perhaps I'm displaying a bit of bias as well.)

Finally, to make this a bit more interactive, I'm interested in your perceptions of bias in media (particularly those of you reading outside the US), and I'm interested in what web news service you use, if any.


Kim said...

The CBC is hugely biased against the Conservative Party of Canada. I remember watching the election coverage one year (a year when the Liberal Party won) and it was all the commentators could do to keep from beaming all night long.

Hubby's a real news junkie. He probably has more astute insights about bias in the media than I do.

Gummby said...

Well make sure he stops by. I'd love to hear what he has to say.

Carla said...

Well... in our house we have a somewhat unusual perspective on the news sources.

Kev is Canadian and he prefers American news sources (FOX or MSNBC).

I'm an American living in Canada, and always feel like I'm not getting the full story (or a horribly biased story) whenever we listen to or watch non-American sources. Most of the time it seems like they're actually anti-American.

So, there ya go. :o) I read my news online for the most part (FOX, Drudge, Breitbart, and sermon audio's news page here )

Dan S. said...

This is my first comment on your blog. Discovered it from the "Canadian bloggers" comment a few posts back, which was picked up by Rebecca from Yukon, which I discovered from Carla's blog, which I dicovered in Kim's links, which is a blog that is on my wife's blogroll (and you thought Carla had long sentences with lots of commas). Neat how this new blogging phenomenon works.

Anyways, just read a few posts and quite enjoyed them.

Looks like you're part of the church Lance Quinn pastors. I'm a big "MacArthur guy" (whatever that means) and know that Lance was JM's assistant for awhile.

As to this post, Kim is right on the CBC and it's left wing leanings. Unfortunately, we here in Canada do not have a right wing alternative. So, like Carla, I read my news mostly online and mostly at FOXNews. But I will check out BBC.

Gummby said...

Thanks for stopping by. Your story is exactly how I end up at about half the blogs I do (the other half are links from Phil Johnson).

Our church was a plant awhile back from Bible Church of Little Rock, but has no official affiliation at this point. However, BCLR has a training program, and they are kind enough to allow folks from outside their congregation to attend. Sorry if any of that was unclear.

That said, I know Lance, and respect him a great deal. His sermons are a great resource--he is going through Romans right now. Link here.

Let me know what you think of the BBC. There is definitely bias there, but there's also some good stuff.

Antonio said...

Hey, I am wondering what you would think about my newest blog entry about how the post-reformation scholastics significantly diverged from Calvin and Luther on the critical doctrine of assurance of salvation. Your comments would be appreciated!

Calvin vs. the Calvinists

thanks again,


BugBlaster said...

Hi Matt,
The CBC for sure is socially left wing. I don't sense the anti-U.S. bias in CBC so much, but maybe that's because I'm so used to it that I don't see it. The anti-U.S. bias is rampant in general Canadian newsmedia, and in the governing Liberal Party.

CBC has kind of an insular view: "The pope just died, the berlin wall just fell, and there's a new King Kong movie. Let's find out what that means for Gander, Newfoundland..."

I prefer CBC's private sector competitor CTV for Canadian & world news, both on cable and internet.

I watch CNN for U.S. and some world news. I used to watch FOX but the free trial ended. I find CNN to also be left wing and they seem to have an anti-rest-of-the-world bias, especially Lou Dobbs.

U.S. media in general I found to become hysterically unobjective after 2001 (echoing the "if you're not with us, you're against us" mantra against countries that didn't see the wisdom of entering Iraq). Then the pendulum seems to have swung the other way and now there is a lot of U.S. media opinion that says get out of Iraq this instant, no matter that the country would implode the next day.

The U.S. is one powerful country, the most powerful ever to exist. And like most countries, it acts in what it perceives to be its own best interest, which as often as not, does not match the best interests of its allies and neighbours. So then it may not be a surprise that residents of the U.S. detect some bias against their country in the world media. Perhaps it's only natural.

I agree with you, nothing tops BBC for a "world view" of world news. Their website is also the best I agree.

Sorry, not trying to be political AT ALL. Just giving you my impression of the virtual non-existence of bias-free newsmedia.

see ya!

Kim said...

jumping up and down I was right about something? Yippee!! Thanks, Dan.

Matt, if you're offended by Bugblaster's political comments, and you decide that you don't like him anymore, can we still be friends?

BugBlaster said...

Kim, you're right about very many things. Can we still be friends?

Newsflash: new poll shows the Conservatives 8 points ahead of the Liberals in advance of the Jan 23 election. There is yet hope.

Carla said...

Kim, lol. You're too funny.

Mr. Bugness, you said " I don't sense the anti-U.S. bias in CBC so much, but maybe that's because I'm so used to it that I don't see it."

I'd suspect that's likely the case. There is an anti-US sentiment in Canada, as much as Canadians in general don't admit to it. I know, because I'm an American living here. It's frustrating for sure for myself, but it's worse for the girls. Oh yes, kids can be cruel and awful, and this topic is no exception with kids.

The Canadian news media is no different - but it certainly is entirely possible that they are that way due to what many perceive as pure arrogance, when it comes to the US's attitude toward... well... pretty much everything, lol. It's a weird thing, for sure.

Now I don't want my comments misunderstood and someone to come along and accuse me of Canadian-bashing. Not ALL Canadians are openly obnoxious toward Americans, and I'm sure grateful for that.

Now, the most important question:

Matt, if Canadians Kim and Buggy decide they don't like me anymore, can we still be friends?

Gummby said...

Guys, if I disowned people purely for their political pursuasion, there'd be a ton of people ahead of you on the list. For a clue to my own political leanings, read this.

Buggy: WHAT?! No Kafka anymore? What happened? I think your comments are spot on. There are virtually no unbiased media outlets. I laugh when I hear them try to claim otherwise, and it's usually the ones that are the worst that claim no bias.

I also agree about the statement of post 911 American media--there's kind of a herd mentality there, that's for sure. Perhaps because there is still an oligarchy, with the three major networks. I refuse to pay for cable TV, even if it would get me Bloomberg (possibly the only channel without any bias, except toward business). We have cable @ work, but after about a year of Fox I got tired of it, and now only occasionally tune in.

As to your comment about the insular view of the CBC, I find our local media exactly the same way. Blah, blah, blah happened in Europe today, tune in at ten for the local connection. Drives me nuts.

Antonio: I'll try to make it over there, but no promises.

Kim: see comments above. Good friends are too hard to come by to toss them aside at the first hint of a disagreement.

Carla: I think you've hit the other side of the coin. American arrogance is pretty rampant, and it is just as appalling to me as the anti-American bias. Perhaps more so, because Americans are so blessed, and take so much for granted. All too often, I must include myself in that category.

BugBlaster said...

Carla, our pastor and his wife are from Tennessee, and their kids were born in Texas. They really see the anti-americanism here, and it kind of unnerves them I think. On the other hand, he appears to be mystified when we don't "get" the U.S. perspective on some issues.

I think you're all too radical for me to be your friend. No hugs for any of you.

Matt, Kafka had to retire for now, because I don't want to continually creep out my wife. He might come back some day.

Carla said...

Matt: I have to voice a wee little objection to American arrogance. Yes, Americans do have issues with this (who doesn't?) but there are times when American patriotism is mistaken for the arrogance. The way us Americans are so patriotic is not something easily understood by other folks, in other countries, that don't share that sentiment.

Mr.Buggance, what's worse than anti-Americanism in Canadian culture, is anti-Americanism in Canadian churches. Yep, we deal with it. Once, our Sunday school teacher (who is a solid 5 pointer in a not so solid 5 pointer church, and someone I really like) made a semi-snarkish, anti-American crack, in front of the class. Kev told me later he saw me squirm in my chair.

Too radical!? No hugs!? Well, I never!

*goes outside to fly her American flag on Canadian soil...

Dan S. said...

Hey Matt,
Re: BBC Site. I like it, especially after I push the international button. Thanks!

Just for Carla and Matt, we out here in red-neck, Conservative, right-leaning Alberta love Americans. No anti-American sentiment here.