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Monday, 7 January 2008

Reorganising the BBC Newsroom

On the BBC Editors blog Peter Horrocks, Head of BBC Newsroom, asks this question:

"Text messages and e-mails from our audiences have brought a valuable additional aspect to our journalism. But how much attention should we pay to people who care strongly enough about an issue to send a message? They might either be typical of a wide part of the audience or perhaps just a tiny vocal minority."

And he talks a lot of sense in answering it.

One of the issues Peter Horrocks discusses is the structural and physical reorganisation of the newsroom. I think this is necessary if the BBC wants to get the best out of user-generated content.

There is already a system to feed UGC to the website, TV and radio. Peter Horrocks mentions that Paul Wood, then Defence Correspondent, picked up a story about poor living conditions for members of the armed forces from photos that were sent in from soldiers' families.

But I think the fact that most of the Online team are currently on the 7th Floor of Television Centre, a long way from the main TV and radio news hubs must mean that some potential follow up stories are missed, and that journalists are not always aware of what is going on in other departments.

One BBC correspondent I spoke, for example, seemed to be unaware that the BBC website already has editors publishing round ups of the best blogs on certain international affairs such as Iraq and more recently Kenya.

I would suggest that the reorganisation of the newsroom might give BBC journalists a greater awareness of the potential value of citizen journalism and that, at worst, the content the audience produces would be very useful to them as background information.

The key journalistic and technological challenge will be sifting through the ever-increasing haystack of thoughts, pictures and videos that are sent in to the BBC in order to find the hard needle of a journalistic story.

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