Thursday 18 September 2008

Social Media Panel at the BBC

  • A very full room of people mainly from the World Service and Global News
  • Conspicuous by their absence: sandwiches.
  • Tuesday 16th September 2008
Matthew Eltringham
  • Explained that the UGC hub has been running for just over three years and receives around 12,500 emails a day. (Just thinking now that nobody asked him how many the BBC is capable of reading, replying to, etc).
  • Also said the BBC spends a lot of time engaging with social media on the Web already.
  • But pointed out how not to do it. Showed us an example of a BBC Producer who had posted on a New Orleans web forum in a none-too-clever fashion asking for interviewees who could talk about hurricane Gustav. The post received some pretty strong responses. Eltringham highlighted the importance of reaching out to people on their terms not on the BBC's terms.

Salam Adil
  • Is the Iraq contributor for Global Voices Online.
  • Global Voices is an independent non-profit organisation
  • Has over 100 volunteer authors, regional editors and translators
  • A core team of editors
  • Explained that Global Voices uses a Creative Commons Attribution Licence. This seemed to be news to one BBC journalist present who didn't realise they could use Global Voices material in this way.
  • Salam found that looking at what the media says and what bloggers have to say is enlightening:
"Especially when I was following Iraq, bloggers themselves are covering a completely different agenda to the journalists"

Kevin Anderson
  • Mainly talked about his upcoming US election project with The Guardian. In fact, he seems to have left the UK already. The plan is to travel around America meeting up with bloggers and voters along the route. He'll also be accompanied by a Guardian Films crew.
  • Intending to use any tool that he sees fit but mentioned Flickr, Youtube, FireEagle, (and no doubt several others that I didn't have a chance to note down as he reeled them off)
  • Made the observation that content shouldn't be imprisoned on your own website. It should be out there. This still seemed to be a surprise to one BBC questioner who asked whether that should mean that the BBC should drive traffic away from by linking out. (Anderson smiled in a resigned manner no doubt wondering whether he was in some kind of time warp.)

Jem Stone
  • Identified 3 challenges for the BBC
1. How to work with social media tools on the Web. Temptation for BBC journalists is to dive in when there is a news story without being authentic. BBC journalists need to try them out first and be involved in the community before they start them using them for the BBC. (Interestingly here there is a precedent with blogging. The BBC began by establishing a number of internal blogs before setting up the Blog Network.)

2. Curating blogs
The BBC is not good at collecting what is on the Web and making sense of it all in the way that Global Voices does.

3. Going to where people are
Reiterated this point that the BBC expect people to come to the BBC - i.e. rather than where they are. Pointed out that half of Internet users (in the UK?) never come to

Question on authentication and attribution of blogs etc?

Eltringham: Emphasised that this is basic journalism in a way. Need to apply the same rigour as other sources. Use cross-referencing, track down phone numbers and email addresses to get in contact with people.

Adil: Can look at the track record of bloggers by reading their archives. Generally bloggers wear their biases on their sleeves and there is rarely any money in blogging so not doing it for financial reasons.

Anderson: "This is traditional journalism with cutting edge tools". Also noted that some websites were doing a great job. Argued that blog coverage on Shanghaiist put the mainstream media to shame.


Unknown said...

I almost always feel like I'm in a time warp. You should see my Twitter comments over the last month. Sometimes working in the mainstream media feels like the last 15 years of 'new media' never happened. Thanks for the write up.

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