BUSHLOG photo archive World Service Newsroom 17
"Telling the world the world news" booklet, published by BBC External Services, Summer 1978
A million words a day...

A MILLION words a day flood into the BBC newsroom at London's Bush House from the world outside. It is the newsroom's round-the-clock task to tap this torrent and siphon it daily into 250 separate news programmes. At almost any time of the day or night there are news programmes going out in one or other of the 39 different language services that make up BBC External Broadcasting. At certain times there are as many as six at once. There can be no ebb in the tide of news stories. No breaks as there are between editions of newspapers. No putting the paper to bed and turning off the tape machines. A central writing unit with 110 journalists working a 24 hour 3 shift system keeps up a constant flow of bulletin stories.

The Bush House newsroom's main flagship of the airwaves is its nine-minute bulletin of world news. The English language World Service launches 17 of them world-wide every day. It also, puts out shorter world news summaries, five-minute News About Britain bulletins, round-ups of international sports news as well as five 15-minute editions of Radio Newsreel. These blend on-the-spot despatches with up-to-the-minute linking material.


The 38 foreign language services of the BBC use varying numbers of the nine-minute bulletins. These are the same general shape as their English counterparts. But the opportunity of earmarking local stories for the more localised audience is often taken up. Although each Service does its own news translation, bulletins and summaries are always prepared in English first by the newsroom.

The newsroom also retains direct editorial control. Within the BBC External Services the editorial independence of the newsroom enables it to provide a global audience of 70 million regular listeners with a multilingual service of 'hard' international news as seen from London (including major British items). In a world where three-quarters of the governments dam-up the free flow of information, BBC news bulletins attract listeners in their millions by their very objectivity.

Around the world there may suddenly be the confusion and violence of earthquakes or revolution. But inside Bush House, journalists are geared up at all times to deal instantly with the unexpected and tell the world about it as quickly and as accurately as humanly possible.

The BBC has more than 20 foreign correspondents to tackle the major international incidents. Specialist correspondents conversant in everything from economics to defence act as back-up usually in London.

For the detailed immediate view of the world, however, Bush House relies on the four main international agencies - Associated Press, Agence France Presse, Reuters and United Press International - for source material. For domestic news there are the BBC's own home reporters and the Press Association. And, of course, the BBC Monitoring Service, listening to more than 100 radio stations around the world.

Throughout the non-stop process of news presentation the only standards which are applied are professional standards. The editorial staff may have their own personal opinions but in the newsroom they work to news values alone, with the common purpose of providing as accurate and fast a service of information as they can. The system allows neither time nor opportunity for interference from any outside quarter. The objectivity of bulletins wins listeners everywhere but particularly in countries where news is controlled and censored; in places where internal dissersion deprives people of local news sources and in areas subjected to constant propaganda broadsides.