BBC’s Husain to leave Impact

My mornings will never be the same. It was announced today Mishal Husain will join Today, the BBC’s flagship show on Radio 4. According to the press release, she will continue presenting Impact on BBC World News till the Autumn. It is no secret that I have admired Husain for sometime. She and Adrian Finighan have served as great role models from the time they co-anchored BBC World News from Washington and London. When you let a news anchor come into your home everyday, you develop an affinity for them. As cheesy as it may sound, you wonder if you could be friends. Being the curious chap that I am, I discovered that I have much in common with Husain.
 
We both have parents who come from the same part of the world and have lived in many countries. We share the same star sign. Both of us lived in the United Arab Emirates and left at the age of 12. Uncanny! A few of my parents friends are close to Husain’s family. At a Christmas luncheon last year, I spoke of my work experience at the BBC when one of the guests remarked that they had a cousin who presented for the corporationl. It’s a small world, isn’t it? Unfortunately, I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Husain despite two recent chance encounters. Alas, it was not meant to be. But I can take joy in having met her old colleague Adrian Finighan. He was the most down-to-earth and amiable person I have met from the broadcast industry…just like I had imagined. 
 
Congrats, Mishal!
Best, A

BBC Lacks Primetime Strategy in U.S.

As Al-Jazeera America ramps up efforts to launch in the U.S., the BBC will need to re-tool their primetime strategy. It is surprising if you consider the simple fact that BBC World News has expanded its distribution in the states over the past year. Currently, GMT with George Alagiah and World News America with Katty Kay are the corporation’s flagship morning and evening shows respectively for the U.S. market. But Kay’s show is the one I take issue with. It has a confusing and un-original name: BBC World News America. Hence, I am watching BBC World News America on the BBC News channel known as BBC World News. Don’t worry if you cannot keep up. I get confused too. I thought the channel refresh in January would encompass a complete rebranding of WNA, but the name and presentation stayed the same.

Moreover, WNA goes out on BBC World News AND PBS at a time when most people are still at work or are on the road. You have to wait till 9 pm EST to watch a newscast aimed at the U.S. It’s a typical BBC “bulletin” with a special introduction welcoming PBS viewers. That’s it. Uh, what about all the viewers who have access to the 24-hr news channel in the states? What I expect from the BBC, Al-Jazeera or any other foreign broadcaster is to invest in distinct and incisive programming that people can watch at a reasonable hour. Anything less tells me that you are not serious about this market.

Since the Beeb is looking to fill the position of “Head of News,” I would make a few changes if I got the job (I can dream, can’t I?). I see plenty of potential in Dani Sinha. She could flourish on an attachment in the Washington bureau and as stand-in presenter for Katty Kay. The channel should hire Imran Garda who left AJE under a year ago. He makes on-air journalism look just as natural as breathing when it is not. He could give Mishal Husain a run for her money. The programming and scheduling for the U.S. market will need re-tooling as it is unfocused and disjointed. And finally, the Beeb needs to form a partnership with CBS. Under the leadership of David Rhodes and Jeff Fager, the Tiffany network is becoming a source of serious news and measured reporting at a time when most broadcasters are placing speed above accuracy.

The Rundown: Good Stuff, Thomas Pink, CNN and More

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Food: The Good Stuff Eatery may find a home in Dubai, United Arab Emirates and China. In an interview with EATER, owner Spike Mendelsohn stated that “serious” meetings had taken place with various developers from those regions. But Micheline Mendelsohn tells us nothing is solid as of yet. “We are nowhere near closing any deals or locations,” she added. Arlington-based Elevation Burger and NYC-based Shake Shack already have locations in the Middle East.

Retail: British luxury shirt specialist Thomas Pink has opened a new store in Tyson’s Galleria.

Retail: TopShop has opened a flagship store in Los-Angeles. More U.S. locations are rumored including one at CityCenter D.C.

Media: Michael Homes joins Newsroom International as co-anchor, effective 2/18.

Media: Journalism professor Jeff Jarvis scolds the BBC and anchor Adnan Nawaz for inciting “technopanic.”

Retail: If Apple can an open a store in New-York City’s Grand Central Station, how about a location at the soon-to-be vacant Barnes & Noble space at Union Station?

Photo Credit: Thomas Pink

NPR Executive Tapped to Lead BBC in U.S.

NPR executive editor Dick Meyer will lead the BBC’s operations in the U.S, it was announced today. In this role, Meyer will oversee BBC World News America, the U.S. edition of the BBC News website, and stateside newsgathering. His appointment comes after the departure of Rome Hartman who joined NBC News. Hartman shared his thoughts on the BBC’s operations in America via a BBC College of Journalism event this past July. Below are notables quotes we compiled.

Digital Innovation

“If the BBC wants to be a really top-ranked player in online news, it needs to innovate much more quickly and much more nimbly than it does now.”

The Power of the BBC

“I’ve always felt that the BBC somehow falls a little bit short of asserting its power when it comes to its relationships with American media companies or networks. The BBC is a little bit shy…we kinda act like the junior partner.”

“We ought to be saying ‘listen, we’re the BBC,’ we have an amazing offering and we ought to act as if we do a little bit more than we have.”

“I don’t exactly know to what that ought to be attributed, but it’s something that I’ve seen across the bit…we’re sort of – a little – starstruck by the American media companies and they ought to be starstruck by us instead of the other way around.”

Commerce

“Here at the BBC, there sometimes is a naive view that you can’t have commerce and fairness co-existing, and I think the BBC needs to get over that.”

Covering the United States

“Having World News America based in the Washington bureau made the BBC’s journalism better.”

“Our audience is going to be more and more online – particularly in the U.S. We just have to figure out a way to get the best of BBC journalism…on to the news website.”

WNA needs Naga Munchetty

Now that Katty Kay has been named anchor for BBC World News America, we believe that Naga Munchetty should be appointed as a substitute anchor on the show. Naga is smart and has a great on-air personality that Washingtonians will soak up. We’ve admired her presentation skills since we first saw her on GMT. WNA is also long overdue on a new graphics package and music theme (cue David Lowe, Angus McKeown). Time to bring back that great BBC News theme from 1999. Apparently, it was suppose to make the hair on peoples’ backs stand up. No joke.

International News is Trendy

Who would have ever thought we would see the day when global news became fashionable? In the United States? You must be joking. Ah, but it has. Al-Jazeera English, much-praised for its coverage in Egypt, is in heavy demand from American viewers seeking an international perspective on a global news. Countless articles – and I mean countless, have been written covering the rise of the fledgling network and why it is still struggling to be carried by major cable operators in this country. According to media reports, AJE management is set to meet with Comcast at the end of this month. But realizing an opportunity is not to be wasted, the BBC announced it would move its flagship U.S. news program BBC World News America from BBC America to the BBC World News channel starting March 28. The move is an attempt to bolster the profile of the news channel in the U.S.A which is distributed in six million homes on a 24-hour basis. As the New-York Times pointed out, cable operators are reluctant to carry international news channels. And while it maybe hard to quantify or translate the figures AJE received though online viewership into Nielsen ratings, one thing is certain; international news is trendy.