World News America

Page last updated at 09:05 GMT, Tuesday, 22 December 2009

2009: Editor's review of the year

By Rome Hartman
Editor, World News America

Rome Hartman

Looking back, it really was a remarkable year.

It began with America's first African-American President taking the oath on a cold, incredible day in January, and taking office in the midst of an economic crisis that had rattled the world's financial system to its very core.

Many of our most notable stories focused on the new president and on the global meltdown, but we also wanted to display a much broader range and diversity in our work, from breaking news to light features.

Our goal each day is to bring smart and sophisticated coverage of the world to an audience that needs to know more and more

2009 comes to an end with economic stability restored in much of the world, but with very real questions remaining both in America and around the world about the timing and substance of real recovery.

Throughout the year, we've tried to 'connect the dots' when it comes to business and economic coverage and to demonstrate how events and trends in one part of the world impact other places.

Matt Frei's reporting from Tokyo in March, our Ethical Man in America series through the spring, and Paul Mason's terrific reporting from China on that nation's efforts to revive its powerful economic machine - all of them strong examples of our approach.

Foreign policy challenges

Much of our 2009 reporting on the Obama presidency was the day-by-day tracking of events - those stories are by nature quite perishable.

Included on our review page are two 'sturdier' examples - one quite serious and the other quite light.

A demontrator holds up a placard featuring Barack Obama during the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen
The Copenhagen summit did not produce a legally binding treaty

Matt Frei's report on the history of African-American workers in the White House - done just before its first African-American resident was to move in - and Katty Kay's story in late January on the challenges President Obama would face in environmental issues.

It's interesting that 2009 comes to an end with the environment again front-and-centre on his agenda.

Of course Barack Obama's constant foreign policy challenges in 2009 were Iraq and Afghanistan - how to bring one of America's wars to a close while shoring up the government in Baghdad, and how to escalate America's 'other war' - the conflict in Afghanistan.

The BBC has a steadfast commitment to covering both of these stories full-time on the ground, and we've been proud to feature the very best of that coverage.

Fascinating characters

One of the ongoing series we're proudest of is our First Person franchise.

The idea behind these pieces is quite simple - the subjects of our reports tell their own stories, in their own words, without the involvement of a correspondent.

Executing these segments well is considerably more complicated and we take great care to make sure they are beautifully produced and edited, and introduce a very broad range of fascinating characters.

Among my favourites are the astronaut-turned-artist Alan Bean, Frank Ahearne; the man who has built a business out of helping people to disappear (nothing nefarious here; in all cases, this is what they want); the photographer who documented the Iranian revolution three decades ago; and the man who was once the most influential - and feared - food critic in New York.

Our goal each day is to bring smart and sophisticated coverage of the world to an audience that needs to know more and more about the world, and to cover stories and issues in America when we believe that the perspective of a "friendly outsider with a slightly arched eyebrow" will add a valuable and lively perspective to the conversation.

We hope that the stories we have chosen for our 2009 Review are of that ethic, that you'll browse and enjoy them, and that you'll keep coming back!



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