The New World on BBC Radio 4

The election of Donald Trump and Brexit led some to declare 2016 as ‘the worst year ever’, whilst others were pleased with the global shift. Regardless, 2016 was inarguably a year of enormous change, leaving some confused as to how we got here, and many unsure of the future.

The New World explores our changing global paradigm, examining topical issues such as globalisation, the rising power of China, and our ‘post-truth’ society.

Although the BBC leans to the left, the podcast does not present a simplistic liberal narrative, instead delivering a complex interrogation of the topics at hand. When debating the merits of globalisation, for example, interviewer Jim O’Neill features a variety of voices across the political and social spectrum. Head of the World Bank and advocate of globalisation Jim Yong Kim discusses the widespread economic merits of a globalised world, pointing to China’s thriving economy as an example. However, labourers of local British industry later discuss how their trades have been harmed, not helped, by globalisation. In all the episodes, the words of experts and the powerful elite are compared with, and often complicated by, the lived experiences of ordinary people.

The views of both the audience and the interviewer are challenged in the podcast. Jim O’Neill admits that he is “passionately” in favour of globalisation and Jo Fidgen describes herself as a liberal. Yet, they are open to viewpoints which contradict their own and, though they ask pointed, challenging questions, they do not belittle or readily dismiss dissenting arguments.

The New World is a refreshing departure from ordinary news. It is neither shallow and sensationalist, nor dense and confusing, offering in depth and accessible discussions of hot topics.

As an occasionally arrogant liberal myself, I was annoyed to find that the programme repeatedly cast doubt on the assumptions which underpin my world view. The podcast may be a necessary antidote to the growing chasm between the political parties, forcing all listeners to question their views and exposing them to a different perspective.

Image: Diego Cambiaso @ Flickr

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