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May 22 2013


How the BBC handles responsive images

On BBC News developers’ posted about how they handle one of the trickiest issues of responsive design — how to deal with images. How can your web page be smart enough to download big, beautiful images when on a big desktop screen and small, optimized ones for a smartphone?

This is an area where standards are still unsettled and there are a lot of competing best practices. The BBC approach involves hardcoding only the first image on a page in the HTML markup and bringing in others selectively via JavaScript. Also:

As the BBC News site publishes MANY articles everyday, many images are published too. BBC News has an automated process to create 18 different versions of each published image.

October 06 2011


LIVE: Final session – The future of collaboration in digital journalism

A panel of digital journalism experts discuss the key issues raised in this environment of participatory journalism: adopting a “digital-first” mentality, the values and standards of the link-economy and the role and responsibilities of journalists and news organisation as active members of the open-web community.

With Steve Herrmann, editor, BBC News Online; Anthony De Rosa, social media editor, Reuters (via Skype), Duncan Hooper, managing editor, news and sport, MSN UK and Momoko Price, communications director, BuzzData. Moderated by Torin Douglas, media correspondent, BBC.

Sponsored post

LIVE: Session 3A – Bringing the outside in

Across the media spectrum organisations are pulling in content from outside their four walls, whether that’s curating coverage from other sites, building networks for blogs and third-party opinion, or opening up their doors to citizen journalism and user-generated content. This session looks at how outside content, in all its forms, is integrated into the output of news organisations and the different approaches to be found in the industry.

With Carla Buzasi, editor-in-chief, the Huffington Post UK; Dominique van Heerden, digital producer, CNN; Chris Hamilton, social media editor, BBC News and Ed Barrow, chief technical officer, idio.

<a href=”http://www.coveritlive.com/mobile.php/option=com_mobile/task=viewaltcast/altcast_code=33c5dada4e” _mce_href=”http://www.coveritlive.com/mobile.php/option=com_mobile/task=viewaltcast/altcast_code=33c5dada4e” >#newsrw 3A Bringing the outside in</a>

July 11 2011


NOTW - 1500 on Thursday: end of an era? Why do all politicians kow-tow to Rupert Murdoch?

BBC News :: The primary function of Rupert Murdoch's newspaper and TV empire and Jonathan Harmsworth's Daily Mail and General Trust, these journalistic centres of power, is to dispense approval or disapproval to politicians. A News International journalist is reported to have said to Labour leader Ed Miliband: "You've made it personal with Rebekah so we're going to make it personal with you.". Paul Mason, BBC News: "That is the kind of power that, until about 1500 on Thursday, journalists in that circle could wield."

The question everybody has been asking journalists and politicians last weekend: why do all politicians kow-tow to Mr Murdoch; what is it that makes them incapable of seeing the moral hazards of the relationship?

Continue to read Paul Mason, www.bbc.co.uk

March 14 2011


Hyperlocal Voices: Darryl Chamberlain, 853 Blog

853 blog

Having worked for the BBC News Entertainment website for a decade, Darryl Chamberlain took voluntary redundancy and set up the widely successful 853 Blog. As part of the Hyperlocal Voices series he shares some of the secrets of his success.

1) Who where the people behind the blog, and what where their backgrounds?

853’s all mine. My background’s actually in showbiz news. I worked for the BBC News website’s entertainment desk for a decade in a variety of roles – mainly sub-editing and being the daily editor, but also reporting and feature writing.

I took voluntary redundancy and a career break in 2009 – standing in a council election in May 2010, and doing odd bits of freelance work. While standing in an election will probably leave me hopelessly biased in many eyes, it helped introduce me to local issues which simply weren’t being touched, and potential contacts of all political hues. After my glorious defeat, I realised I could do a bit more for my local area by sticking to what I was good at – finding things out and writing about them.

I have lived in the Greenwich area all my life, and it’s an under-reported patch, so here was my chance to do something about it. 853’s helped me keep my hand in the trade, too, which has been a nice spin-off.

More recently, I’ve set up a truly hyperlocal blog, the Charlton Champion , for the area where I live . I’m hoping to get more people involved in it, though, so it develops a different voice and its own distinctive identity. I’ve a few other people on board, but it’s very early days.

I’m also involved in a new project, The Scoop, about London news and politics.

2) When did you set up the blog and how did you go about it?

I’d blogged under a pseudonym on a couple of other sites for about five years – the usual “have a go at everyone/everything” stuff – before my impending redundancy convinced me I should try something under my own name.

I set 853 up in October 2008, using a basic WordPress template. Originally, it was going to be a showcase for my writing – I had all kinds of plans to go travelling. But the travel stuff only ended up being a small part of what the site became. Maybe I’ll pack my bags again one day and add a bit more travel.

3) What other blogs, bloggers or websites influenced you?

I’ve always thought a blog should tell you something you don’t know, instead of parroting the same old stuff. So I’ve always been in awe of Diamond Geezer , who’s looking at London’s lesser-known aspects for nearly nine years now.

Jason Cobb’s Onionbagblog was a huge influence – like me, he never set out to scrutinise his local council, but found himself doing it when nobody else was. I’m sure the leadership of Lambeth Council are breathing a sigh of relief now he’s chronicling life on the Essex coast instead.

Adam Bienkov has shown the benefits of persistence and building up good contacts in his chronicle of life at City Hall, while Brockley Central has become the model for just about anybody wanting to set up a hyperlocal blog.

My fellow Greenwich blogger The Greenwich Phantom has a distinctive take on local life which means we don’t tread on each other’s toes, Greenwich.co.uk has shown there is a demand for local news and information, while Transpontine is essential reading if you’re interested in south-east London’s music, culture and history. London SE1 is a fantastic news source which puts the big operators to shame, while Chislehurst News is a newcomer to the SE London scene which is well worth a look.

There’s a loose network of bloggers in south-east London and beyond which has been a great source of inspiration and support.

4) How did- and do you- see yourself in relation to a traditional news operation?

In south-east London, the hyperlocal blogs are partly filling a gap that’s come about because of market failure. The Greenwich area’s been largely abandoned by the big operators, leaving a couple of freesheets whose editorial is shared with neighbouring Lewisham.

The two boroughs are fairly similar socially but wildly different politically, despite both being Labour areas, and that’s where they hit problems. Combined, those freesheets are struggling to serve an area with the same population of Liverpool against a lack of interest from their proprietors – Tindle’s Mercury has great reporters but is horribly under-resourced and doesn’t even have a proper website, while Newsquest’s News Shopper is based far out in the suburbs and really doesn’t understand the area.

That said, I’d rather 853 complemented rather than competed with them – so when I deal with news I’m concentrating on council-related matters because that’s what’s getting neglected. But it still contains lots of opinion on other issues and anything else that takes my fancy.

5) What have been the key moments in the blog’s development editorially?

The turning point was going to a Greenwich Council meeting in July 2009 and watching a member of the public hectored by the mayor because he was having trouble asking a question about a housing development that affected him. It was horrifying to watch but here were no reporters there to see this – the entire meeting went unreported beyond my site.

Greenwich.co.uk’s Rob Powell asked me to cover a few meetings for him after this, and I’ve continued doing this on 853. A lot of the blog’s opinionated, but on council issues the facts usually speak for themselves.

More recently, revealing the closures of the Greenwich Foot Tunnel and the council pulling its funding from fireworks on Blackheath – claiming cuts-induced poverty despite blowing £30,000 on a mayor-making ceremony have been important moments for the blog.

Following the ongoing story of the cuts is going to become more important as time goes on – 853 was the first place to report on the initial swathe of Greenwich’s cuts and the Charlton Champion’s revealed the threat to a local petting zoo.

Covering the problems of the Southeastern train company whose press office refuses to deal with blogs – has been a boost for traffic; again, it’s an issue that’s often poorly covered elsewhere.

My background on the BBC News website’s served me well – I get frustrated if I’m not first to a story!

6) What sort of traffic do you get and how has that changed over time?

Traffic has doubled over the past year or so – it tends to go up in spurts with big stories.

October 13 2010



The rescue news from Chile arrived late to Europe so you will not find any major front page or coverage in today’s editions.

American newspaper had a better chance but in general the pattern was Big Pictures (TV was better) and Big Words (TV was better).

So, what we can expect tomorrow in the front pages of the best European newspapers?

Well, not too much.

They will try again the Big Pictures and Big Words easy game.

Ignoring that the rescue was a worldwide TV event and it’s going to be difficult to add new angles and clues to the big news of the day before…

Yes, I know that this is always difficult, but newspaper editors had many week in advance to plan for this magic moment.

TV did its work.

I watched BBC, News Sky News and CNN Chile and all of them did a superb job.

What European newspapers readers expect tomorrow is not to see again the same pictures, the same infographics, and the same news, but a more creative, analytical, pro-active and “news behind the news” stories.

But I doubt that our newspapers will do it.

Instead, like in music and as our grandmother will tell us when we were little ones, “if you don’t play well, at least play loud”

So expect more empty noise.

September 06 2010


BBC CoJo: In defence of Mark Thompson’s visit to Downing Street

Last week several news outlets, including the BBC, reported on a visit to Downing Street by the BBC’s director general Mark Thompson, who was allegedly there to discuss BBC news coverage of the government’s spending review.

It was suggested that such a visit may risk damaging the impartiality of the broadcaster, with Thompson reportedly trying to ensure a good relationship with the government in light of a licence fee review on the horizon. Others indicated that the meeting was on the order of senior government figures who wanted to “quiz” Thompson on content.

Commenting on the press coverage, Kevin Marsh, editor of the BBC College of Journalism criticizes what he regards as a promotion of appearance and impression over the facts in a post on the College of Journalism discussion blog.

Is it really a surprise for example, to learn that David Cameron’s press chief, Andy Coulson, had lunch with the BBC head of news, Helen Boaden, and that the subject of spending review coverage came up? Or that Mr Coulson would press for more ‘context’?

(…) Now, I have no special knowledge or insight here – but certainly when I was running Today or World at One it wasn’t that unusual to recruit senior executives to put in a good word when you were trying to fix big interviews.

And it’s easy to see that with a huge, high-profile season on the horizon – and the spending review season will run across all of the BBC’s national and regional programming as well as the news website – a bit of shoulder work from the chaps at the top is no bad thing.

See his full post here…Similar Posts:

September 01 2010


BBC strikes video content deal with Russia’s GZT.ru

The BBC has announced a new syndication agreement between its Russian news site bbcrussian.com and GZT.ru, a Russian online news portal, as part of efforts to open up greater access to BBC news video and text content within the country.

The deal will provide users of the GZT.ru website direct access to Russian-language video content from bbcrussian.com, which the broadcaster claims will see its news reports opened up to an additional audience of 1.6 million users each week.

In a statement on the BBC press office website, head of BBC Russian Sarah Gibson says the broadcaster is able to offer a unique resource to Russian consumers.

Our ambition is to build on BBC Russian’s well-established direct online audience through partnerships with highly-regarded online sites. Our global perspective makes us a unique resource for news consumers in Russia, and this is another way for them to access BBC news and analysis. We see Russian audiences turn to us on big stories, including Russian and regional ones, and we are really pleased to have another way through this partnership to make our content more accessible.”

Hatip: PaidContent:UKSimilar Posts:

August 26 2010


BBC: Prototype app feeds related web content into live TV streams

The BBC is working on a prototype application that will feed links to relevant web content into live TV news reports available on BBC News Online, according to a post on the backstage.bbc.co.uk blog.

The prototype shows how hypertext which links to online articles relating to the topic of discussion can appear on screen as the news develops, signposting users to further reports on the web.

Andrew Littledale, who has been working on the prototype, explains that the idea has evolved from plans to develop an interface which will suit a future in which TV and the web become bedfellows.

The most useful application we could think of was something that would provide web content that was relevant to what was being talked about on TV. So we created a Flash application that pulls in live subtitles from an IRC channel and places them underneath a live feed of News 24 (…) As the subtitles appear on the screen they are sent off to a natural language processing API and relevant concepts are extracted from the text (and in our case returned as DBpedia terms).

When the concepts come back from the API they are placed over the EMP on the left of the picture. We’ve mapped these terms to BBC News content and clicking on them reveals links on the right. Clicking on these opens up the web page in a new tab.

While he admits it needs a bit of work yet, the concept is also being considered as a more tailored product for specific platforms on the site.

See his full post and demonstration of the prototype here…Similar Posts:

August 17 2010


July 28 2010


BBC News redesign architect gets technical about changes

If you are more interested in the cogs and wheels behind the BBC News site’s redesign than the end product, a post by their chief technical architect John O’Donovan this week should be of interest.

The BBC has one of the oldest and largest websites on the internet and one of the goals of the update to the News site was to also update some of the core systems that manage content for all our interactive services.

O’Donovan first outlines the reasoning behind keeping with a Content Production System (CPS), rather than moving over to Content Management System (CMS), before giving a detailed look at the latest model – version 6 – that they have opted for.

The CPS has been constantly evolving and we should say that, when looking at the requirements for the new news site and other services, we did consider whether we should take a trip to the Content Management System (CMS) Showroom and see what shiny new wheels we could get.

However there is an interesting thing about the CPS – most of our users (of which there are over 1,200) think it does a pretty good job [checks inbox for complaints]. Now I’m not saying they have a picture of it next to their kids on the mantelpiece at home, but compared to my experience with many organisations and their CMS, that is something to value highly.

The main improvements afforded by the new version, according to O’Donovan, include a more structured approach, an improved technical quality of content produced and an ability to use semantic data to define content and improve layouts.

See his full post here…Similar Posts:

July 07 2010


New BBC News website will launch in weeks

A new look for the BBC News site will go live within weeks, editor Steve Herrmann says on a blog, explaining how the design will change.

There will be:

  • better use of images and videos – and a bigger video player used prominently on the homepage;
  • recent stories will be flagged as ‘new’;
  • more prominence for other main news stories and features on article pages “so that however you arrive on the site, you can quickly see the main content of the day”;
  • easier ways to share stories and links with Twitter and integration with Facebook.

The site’s navigation menu will move from the left-hand side to the top of the page, which gives a much cleaner look and feel to the design.

Similar Posts:

June 11 2010


January 21 2010


data.gov.uk launches in public beta

As widely reported elsewhere, data.gov.uk is now available in public beta:

Data.gov.uk acts as an online point of access for government-held non-personal data. This is to enable people like you to take it, re-use it and make interesting things with.

Full introductory post at this link…

“It’s [government data] such an untapped resource,” Sir Tim Berners Lee told BBC News.

“Government data is something we have already spent the money on… and when it is sitting there on a disk in somebody’s office it is wasted.”

Similar Posts:

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