British Expat Newsletter: November 2010

Hello, and welcome to those of you who have just signed up. Many thanks to those who entered our October prize draw to win a £25 Amazon voucher by sending us feedback. Well done to Graeme in Canada, the lucky winner of last month’s prize.

We’ve decided not to continue with a monthly prize draw for the immediate future. Meanwhile, we still have two competitions running from our October newsletter, both of which end at midnight GMT on 30 November (that’s tonight!), so there’s still time to enter if you get your skates on.

In this issue

This month

It’s been another busy month, much of which we spent travelling and gathering information for future articles and features, and preparing for (and going on) our recent trip to Singapore. But we’ve still managed to add plenty of new content.

There’s an excellent guide from Susie Hogg in Kuala Lumpur about how to cope with all those family and friends who decide to land themselves on you the moment you start living somewhere exotic. We review a serviced apartment in Bangkok that’s seen better days. And there’s a quick trivia quiz to see how much you know about Canada, a free Arabic language lesson, and one or two bits and bobs from our Singapore trip – more to follow in the days to come, so keep visiting the site!

Is there anything new or different you’d like to see in the newsletter or on the website in general?

By the way, as a reminder, here’s a link to our newsletter archives.

Meanwhile, by popular demand, we’re continuing with the Editorial section which was described as the highlight of the newsletter and something that people enjoyed reading.

Editorial – Dumbing down at the BBC

When passing through Bangkok recently we picked up a copy of The Big Chilli, an events and listings magazine in the style of Time Out. As it happened, there was an article about the BBC’s coverage of the Redshirt protests earlier this year that caused so much havoc in central Bangkok.

The article reported (without comment) the complaints of an international group, including several Bangkok expatriates as well as several Thais, that the BBC reporting had been superficial and biased. Superficial, because it reduced a complex issue to a simple “rich city-dwellers versus rural poor”; biased, because it glossed over the provocative and violent elements among the Redshirts. It listed over two dozen general and specific criticisms of the BBC’s reporting, and noted the group’s demand for a non-partisan and comprehensive investigation into its “wholly unacceptable” coverage – which had apparently been refused.

Now, the group itself has been criticised and accused of itself being biased (including by The Independent, according to The Big Chilli), and some of its individual criticisms are fairly easy to refute. But it does have a point.

Time was when BBC World Service on the radio kept news strictly for reporting the facts – in bulletins typically lasting eight minutes – and dealt with analysis separately in lengthier programmes. Those times are gone, especially as BBC World television and the BBC News website’s coverage have eclipsed the radio service. In these days of rolling news it’s trying to do reporting and analysis together, apparently on the fly, with the result that the analysis becomes simplistic at times. (We saw this at first hand 15 years ago in Bangladesh, where the reporting was brief, sensationalised, and at times bore little resemblance to reality on the ground.)

It’s a real shame. And things are likely to get worse, with Government grant-in-aid funding for the World Service withdrawn and other financial pressures being placed on the BBC. We’ve already seen signs of it; one weather bulletin during our Bangkok visit attempted to cover the entire world’s weather in about 20 seconds. The result? Virtually no useful information about anywhere was conveyed.

So what to do? Stagger on, trying to keep all services running below par in the hope that the finances will get better soon? Or lose functions at the fringes to try and maintain standards at the core? It’s a hard choice. But the way things are at the moment, the BBC’s image is looking increasingly tarnished.

What do you think? Should the BBC slim down? Should it maybe be put on a more commercial footing? Or is this all a lot of needless fuss about a respected broadcaster with a truly global reach?

We’d love to hear your thoughts, so please post on our forum discussion.

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Win The Tapestry of Love, a novel by Rosy Thornton

[Competition closed 30 November 2010]
Rosy has kindly offered to give away a copy of her novel, which was published in paperback in October, to one lucky BE newsletter reader. The novel is set in Cévennes in rural France and is the story of an independent English woman’s journey from being an expat to becoming part of the local community. You can read my review of the novel here and download a free copy of recipes cooked and served by the characters in the book from our sister site Not Delia. All you have to do to win is comment on the book review, or the recipes, or both if you feel like it – why not double your winning chances?!

British Expat Amazon Shopping

Amazon don’t just do books, you know. We’ve teamed up with them to bring you the ultimate in online shopping – from a micro SD card to a garden shed! A great way to do your Christmas shopping, especially if the shops aren’t up to much in your part of the world.
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Bizarre searches

Some strange search terms which have led people to visit British Expat recently:

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So there’s a round-up of all that’s been going on. Come on over and see for yourself! Don’t forget…
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Till next time…

Happy surfing!

Kay & Dave
Editor & Deputy Editor
British Expat – the definitive home for British expats

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