Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.
I'm Doug Johnson. This week:
We listen to music from Taylor Swift …
Answer a listener question about chess champion Bobby Fischer …
And report about blogs right here at VOA.
A blog is short for a Web log. People write blogs to express their opinions and ideas over the Internet. Some people write blogs about political issues. Others use them to share their lives with faraway friends or family. Still other people write blogs to help them deal with sickness, money problems or to choose movies to see or books to read. Bob Doughty has more about the increasing influence of blogs.
The Center for Media Research recently released a report about blogs. It says all studies agree that blogs are popular around the world.
One study found that more than one hundred eighty million people around the world have started a blog. And more than three hundred forty million people around the world read blogs. Another study found bloggers in sixty-six countries on six continents. It found blogs in eighty-one languages.
People in many professions, including the entertainment industry and news organizations, are writing blogs. VOA writers are among them. Alex Belida is the chief writer of the VOA news blog. He discusses issues of freedom of the press and VOA programming. He also answers questions, comments and criticism from the public.
On a recent blog, Mr. Belida wrote about VOA's rules demanding accuracy and objectivity. He wrote that VOA rules state that VOA reporters "do not speak for the United States government." He also wrote that the idea that any government agency can tell VOA what to say is false. To read more of the VOA News Blog go to www.voanewsblog.blogspot.com.
For a different blog experience, visit Ted Landphair's America. Mr. Landphair has been a VOA reporter for years. His blog is a personal exploration of American life. He takes readers to many places he has visited and written about in the United States. And his wife's pictures help make those places come alive. She is award-winning photographer Carol Highsmith. On a recent blog, Ted visits many beautiful covered bridges found throughout rural America.
Ted also discusses many other subjects. Special English listeners might like his "Wild Words" blogs. You can learn some new and unusual American words.
Just go to www.voanews.com and click on the link for Ted Landphair's America.
Our listener question this week comes from China. Wangzijin wants to know more about the chess champion Bobby Fischer. Bobby Fischer was one of the greatest chess players in history. In nineteen seventy-two he became the first American to win the World Chess Championship.
Bobby Fischer was born in nineteen forty-three in Chicago, Illinois. He later moved with his mother and sister to New York City. At the age of six, he taught himself how to play chess. At thirteen, Bobby became the youngest player to win the United States junior championship. He then became a United States chess champion. By the age of fifteen, he was the youngest person ever to hold the title of grandmaster. Later, he won twenty straight games against the greatest chess players in the world.
His most famous game was in nineteen seventy-two in Iceland. Known as "the match of the century," Bobby Fischer was to compete against World Chess Champion Boris Spassky from the Soviet Union.
This game was about more than just chess. It represented America's chance to defeat the Soviets who had long held the winning title. At first Bobby Fischer did not want to compete. United States National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger telephoned Fischer and asked him to play for the honor of the United States.
Bobby Fischer did compete. He lost the first of three games to Spassky. Fischer surrendered the second game. For the last game, Fischer demanded that he and Spassky play in a very small room that was quieter. Bobby Fischer won the game and became champion. And then, he disappeared for many years.
Bobby Fischer was known for playing very aggressively. Chess champion Garry Kasparov once said that Fischer was willing to fight to the death for every game.
Fischer could be very difficult. He made demands about the conditions of chess games. He complained about prize money, lighting, and noise from cameras and crowds. He sometimes acted very strangely.
Bobby Fischer appeared in nineteen ninety-two to again compete against Boris Spassky in Yugoslavia. Once more, Fischer won. But federal charges were brought against Fischer because he broke American laws restricting business dealings with Yugoslavia. He never returned to the United States. Iceland offered him citizenship in two thousand one and Bobby Fischer lived there until he died in January.
Eighteen-year-old Taylor Swift writes and performs personal songs about being young and falling in and out of love. Her songs are heavily influenced by the sounds of country music. Taylor Swift's latest album, "Fearless," is already breaking sales records. Critics say Swift is the most remarkable new country artist in recent years. And, they say all the songs on her new album are a pleasure to listen to. Barbara Klein plays three examples.
"Hey Stephen" is a good example of Taylor Swift's bright and youthful voice. Like many of her songs, it tells a clear story about a personal experience.
But there is more to Taylor Swift than her cheerful sound. She is an extremely hard-working musician who has been perfecting her song-writing skills since she was eleven years old. When Taylor was only fourteen, her family moved to Nashville, Tennessee so that she could be at the center of the country music industry. Her hard work writing and performing songs paid off. At the age of sixteen, she released her first album, "Taylor Swift." Two years later, it is still a top-selling album.
One reason for Taylor Swift's success is that her music is popular with country music fans as well as with general audiences. And she has worked hard to connect with young listeners using online social networks like MySpace.
Here is the song "Fifteen." Taylor Swift remembers the hopes and fears of being a high school student.
Last month, the Country Music Association nominated Taylor Swift for best female singer of the year. She won the CMA award last year for best new artist. We leave you with the title song of Taylor Swift's new album, "Fearless."
I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today.
It was written by Caty Weaver and Dana Demange, who was also the producer. To read the text of this program and download audio, go to our Web site, voaspecialenglish.com.
Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA's radio magazine in Special English.