BBC World News (Ch. 346) was recently added to the DIRECTV roster of news sources. To mark the occasion, we sat down to chat with Katty Kay, the lead anchor of BBC World News America. Kay’s career has taken her from Zimbabwe to Tokyo and throughout Afghanistan and Iraq—as well as to the top of the New York Times bestseller list as co-author of two books, Womenomics and The Confidence Code. We asked Katty about the most challenging story she’s covered and what she believes will dominate the news cycle this year.
What’s the most challenging story you’ve covered in your career?
I’ve reported from around the world, but the most personally challenging story was close to home, the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012. The murder of 20 children and 6 teachers reduced many of the journalists covering the killings to tears, myself included. My youngest daughter was six at the time, the same age as the children who died. It made the whole terrible story that much more raw. We could only think—the poor parents and siblings, how will they recover from this?
What story that’s not currently in the news cycle do you wish was getting more attention?
We always try to bring our audiences news from parts of the globe that other broadcasters aren’t covering. There is a lot of news around the world at the moment and we cover it all every day. It means our bulletins are pretty packed with reports from all over the globe. But if I had to choose one area of the world I’d like to hear more from it would probably be Asia. The region is moving ahead so fast, but still has big hurdles, and that produces social and economic tensions. There’s a shift going on from the west to the east, and it’s an important story that affects us all.
Women’s rights are a huge issue at the moment. How have things changed since you wrote your first book, Womenomics, in 2009?
My co-author Claire Shipman and I have been really gratified by the interest in both The Confidence Code and Womenomics. One shift we’ve noticed since the first book came out in 2009 is how much more attention companies are paying to retaining and promoting women. U.S. businesses really do see this as a bottom line issue. More women in senior positions means organizations do better. And that’s widely recognized now in a way it wasn’t, even six years ago.
What do you think BBC World News does differently from other news sources? What do you hope viewers take away from your coverage?
The BBC covers the world in a way no other broadcaster does. We have the reach and the expertise to give our viewers both breaking news and longer-term context. We can explain to US audiences why what’s happening thousands of miles away matters to them. The world is connected as never before and we want to explain that to our viewers. In the rapid-fire world of 24-hour coverage the BBC is also committed to staying with stories—we don’t bail out after a couple of days. We’ve covered the Ebola outbreak in West Africa right from the start and we are still reporting on it. Stories don’t disappear and nor does our coverage.
What story do you think will have the biggest impact in 2015?
We are only at the beginning of 2015 so it is hard to know what will happen in the rest of the year. That’s what’s fascinating about being a journalist—you never know what’s around the corner! I do think the way the west deals with violent Islamic extremism will be a challenge for years to come. This is not just a military struggle, it involves a long term political commitment from countries in the Middle East and Europe and the US.
When you have time to watch television, what do you watch?
Obviously I watch a lot of BBC World News! Throughout the day I switch between our own news and the US cable networks. I always like to see how everyone else is covering stories. In the evenings, I’m busy with my family and anyway our TV tends to be monopolized by my nine-year-old daughter!
Don’t miss Katty Kay on BBC World News America daily at 5/4c on BBC World News (Ch. 346 and available for Live Streaming).