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February 14 2011

07:01

3 things that BBC Online has given to online journalism

It’s now 3 weeks since the BBC announced 360 online staff were to lose their jobs as part of a 25% cut to the online budget. It’s a sad but unsurprising part of a number of cuts which John Naughton summarises as: “It’s not television”, a sign that “The past has won” in the internal battle between those who saw consumers as passive vessels for TV content, and those who credited them with some creativity.

Dee Harvey likewise poses the question: “In the same way that openness is written into the design of the Internet, could it be that closedness is written into the very concept of the BBC?”

If it is, I don’t think it can remain that way for ever. Those who have been part of the BBC’s work online will feel rightly proud of what has been achieved since the corporation went online in 1997. Here are just 3 ways that the corporation has helped to define online journalism as we know it – please add others that spring to mind:

1. Web writing style

The BBC’s way of writing for the web has always been a template for good web writing, not least because of the BBC’s experience with having to meet similar challenges with Ceefax – the two shared a content management system and journalists writing for the website would see the first few pars of their content cross-published on Ceefax too.

Even now it is difficult to find an online publisher who writes better for the web.

2. Editors blogs

Thanks to the likes of Robin Hamman, Martin Belam, Jem Stone and Tom Coates – to name just a few – when the BBC did begin to adopt blogs (it was not an early adopter) it did so with a spirit that other news organisations lacked.

In particular, the Editors’ Blogs demonstrated a desire for transparency that many other news organisations have yet to repeat, while the likes of Robert Peston, Kevin Anderson and Rory Cellan-Jones have played a key role in showing skeptical journalists how engaging with the former audience on blogs can form a key part of the newsgathering process.

Unfortunately, many of those innovators later left the BBC, and the earlier experimentation was replaced with due process.

3. Backstage

While so many sing and dance about the APIs of The Guardian and The New York Times, Ian Forrester’s BBC Backstage project was well ahead of the game when it opened up the corporation’s API and started hosting hack days and meetups way back in 2005.

Backstage closed at the end of last year, just as the rest of the UK’s media were starting to catch up. You can read an e-book on its history here.

What else?

I’m sure you can add others – the iPlayer and their on-demand team; Special Reports; the UGC hub (the biggest in the world as far as I know); and even their continually evolving approach to linking (still not ideal, but at least they think about it) are just some that spring to mind. What parts of BBC Online have influenced or inspired you?

April 17 2010

19:09

THE AIR TRAFFIC MESS: EUROPE WAITING FOR GODOD OR WHO IS IN CHARGE HERE?

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Robert Peston, the Business editor of the BBC writes in his blog:

“(British Airways executives) are beginning to question whether the Met Office’s computer model of the ash cloud is exaggerating its size. They claim that satellite pictures do not corroborate the Met’s computerised simulation of the cloud.

“It is possible that the Met Office is being too cautious”, an airline executive said to me.

There’s also a growing concern among airline executives that the government is not engaged enough on what they see as a catastrophe which – if airports don’t reopen soon – will spread from financially stretched airlines to any business dependent on aircraft for shipping goods.”

(In the picture, an aircraft maintenance worker covers a jet engine at Belfast City Airport, Northern Ireland, Friday, April, 16, 2010.
ASSOCIATED PRESS)

February 05 2010

16:42

Peston to tackle audience questions in TV debate

BBC business correspondent and blogger Robert Peston is to take live audience questions for BBC Three’s ‘Peston on Money’ – and the BBC is calling for audience members for recording on March 1.

Put your money moans to business guru Robert Peston in a live audience debate: For the last two years this country and the rest of the world has been hit by the biggest financial disaster in half a century. But who’s to blame and why does it matter? Award winning business journalist, Robert Peston, has been at the centre of this storm, unearthing stories of financial greed and mismanagement that affect us all. Robert will be tackling questions, such as: Why does my boss earn 100 times more than me and what do they do to deserve it? How does a bank work and why do we need them? Does debt really matter and how much debt is dangerous?

I like this warning:

Please note that throughout the recording you will be asked to contribute and interact with the show. For example, the audience will be asked to give a show of hands if they are in debt.

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November 25 2009

11:40

Heather Brooke and Telegraph named in PSA Awards

Reporting on the MPs’ expenses scandal was recognised yesterday with awards for both the Telegraph and investigative journalist Heather Brooke.

Brooke took the ‘Influencing the Political Agenda’ prize at the Political Studies Association (PSA) Awards for her ‘tireless and inspiring’ campaign to uncover details of MPs’ expenses.

The Daily Telegraph was named as best political publication of the year for its investigation into MPs’ expenses; while the BBC’s Newsnight and business editor Robert Peston also received prizes.

The full list of PSA Awards winners is available at this link.

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