Tuesday 7 October 2008

Twitter and BBC blogs continued...

In reply to yesterday's short offering, Tom Van Aardt (tomVS on Twitter - he's the Communities Editor at the BBC) has written a couple of posts on Twitter and the BBC's blogs.

The first is about Twitter and the potential for miscommunication.
"...there is no context on a microblogging platform. That’s sometimes the problem. Online all the other subtle forms of communication is lost - voice, body language, etc - and you’re only left with the words. In general a blog post (like this one) provides little information compared to a conversation, but it still provides vastly more information than a single sentence."
The second is a short justification of why he prefers Robert Peston's blog to 'official BBC News stories':
"All in all, it’s a more complete source of information than an unnamed BBC story. The fact that it’s a blog from the BBC gives me even more faith - to me it’s better than a usual BBC news story."

Here, in the latter quote, I think we see evidence of something of a culture change in the BBC's approach to the authority of information online.

In the distant past, the culture of attempting to remain impartial and objective meant the BBC tended to take the voice out of journalism. Most obviously this was seen in the reading of the BBC news which was always undertaken in a very neutral tone.

As Tom alludes to here, the philosophy of taking the individual out of news is also evident in the BBC website where most 'standard' news articles are not attributed to individual journalists.

The thinking is that the information carries authority because the biases, prejudices and opinions of the journalist have in theory been put aside to present the facts in a balanced and fair manner.

The thinking behind blogging runs counter to this idea and says that actually a piece of information can have more authority if we know who is behind it.

Hence, because Tom knows Robert Peston is writing his blog - an expert on the financial crisis and clearly in the know - the information carries more weight than if it was written by any other journalist at the BBC. The individual does make a difference. (Of course, the BBC brand still has a role to play here too.)

There may well be room for both approaches to news at the BBC and other organisations, and perhaps the key challenge is getting the balance right.

Indeed, I don't think the latter approach is entirely new. In both TV and radio, it's fairly plain the BBC has long recognised the importance of presenters and reporters developing what amounts to a personal rapport with the audience.

But I would suggest that the efforts to develop a more personal BBC presence online is also due to the influence of blogging on the thinking of those who work at the BBC.


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