From Our Own Correspondent

When the news is too noisy, or too short, seek refuge in BBC correspondents' stories of everyday life in a podcast that reveals more than talking heads ever will.

I do not enjoy unarmed combat with the irrepressible background noise machine that the media starts up at every opportunity; nine pundits on one screen, immediate and inevitably colorless analysis, instant positive/negative approval graphs. That's why "From Our Own Correspondent," a BBC podcast and radio show, is so good.

It's nice to sit back and hear smart, individual perspectives that are not provocative, unnecessarily opinionated, or ephemeral--whether it's learning about Turkish foreign policy from a local train journey, how beer reveals signs of normality and hope returning to the Congo, or an observation on the Madagascan dance of the dead.

Each week they present five or six short, subtle, and rich observations with a realism that has to be delivered in long form. You won't find it in one-minute news broadcasts, live-blogging, or 140-character Twitter updates: I want light to be shed, not vowels or spirit. In the mornings--when music is too harsh, the news is yesterday's, and the beats don't match my steps--I turn to this podcast for reflection, humanity, and life.

On the effect of the financial crisis in Memphis:
As a journalist, over the years, you get used to meeting people in extremes...often they seem glad to tell you their story, you learn not to be affected by their distress, to keep your emotional distance. Sometimes this proper detachment fails and the human being in you prevails.
On one road in Afghanistan:
But how strange that when the Taliban were in government, I myself used to drive along this road, and now, I am hiding in the back seat with my face covered. What a topsy-turvy place Afghanistan has become. Eight years ago, the problem with driving to this region was the road itself. Vast potholes had eaten up most of the tarmacked road surface and you had to drive through clouds of dust or, in winter, churn through mud. Since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, the road has been rebuilt. It is faster, smoother, and sleeker, but security is now grim and this summer, it has become a lot grimmer.

TMN Editor Mike Deri Smith is no gourmet, he just has an abnormally large stomach. He lives in London. More by Mike Deri Smith

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