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Wednesday 20 June 2012, 10:30
No other media organisation has anything quite like the BBC College of Journalism website. Online training aids are common, of course. But for its sheer ambition, scope and authority, the College site is in a league of its own.
That's why newsrooms and journalism schools around the world pay a subscription for access to the site. And why it's also widely used by the media and by media schools throughout the UK, where access is free.
The attraction for these external users is that the materials they are able to tap into are exactly those that the BBC provides for its own staff. Everyone knows the worldwide power of the BBC brand in general, and the reputation of BBC news in particular.
So a site that embodies those key BBC values of accuracy, trust, impartiality and quality, and explains how they can be practically applied on a day-to-day basis, is a highly attractive proposition.
In essence though, the site was conceived and created by BBC journalists, for BBC journalists. And that has remained the cornerstone of our approach in the re-design, which is now coming to fruition after many months of work.
The core BBC values and the core craft skills - be they in television, radio or online - are still at the heart of what the College website offers. Much of this material's strength is that it is presented by the BBC's best, and best-known, practitioners - people such as Huw Edwards, Allan Little and David Shukman.
But the ambition of the original site, launched six years ago now, went far beyond that - and with our new identity we are carrying those aspirations further still. As well as giving invaluable help with the fundamentals of broadcast journalism, the site also aims to be highly relevant and topical - through a whole range of aids to BBC journalists covering current stories, and through blogs and the posting of extracts from live College events.
This is an area in which we hope to make a step change with the new site. The new design is vibrant and welcoming, and we want the content to reflect that by being dynamic and in touch with the big stories and issues of the day.
The new site (pictured above) also supports our effort to create stronger links between online learning and the other training offered by the College of Journalism. On its own, the site is a tremendous resource for BBC staff, in News and in many other areas of programme-making. Increasingly, we are also using it as a place for people about to attend face-to-face training - which still constitutes the bulk of what we do - to prepare for that training, and then follow up afterwards.
And for the first time we have a direct link from the site to Academy Coursefinder, the system by which BBC staff actually register for face-to-face training courses.
There are other aspects to this more integrated approach. The College of Journalism website broke new ground when it was created. The College of Production now has a site as well, and so does the Academy itself.
From the point of view of the user, from inside the BBC or outside, distinctions between Colleges mean little. They just want to get to the content that is of most use and interest to them as quickly as they can. So it's important that the various Academy sites work together in a seamless way, in order to make sure that people find what they want, and quickly. The crisp and clear layout of the new College of Journalism site, with simpler navigation and intuitive systems, should contribute a great deal to that effort.
Our hope is that the new website will be just as popular and useful outside the BBC as its predecessor, and will attract plenty more subscriptions. But more importantly, it has a big role to play in spreading our unrivalled experience and expertise across the whole of the BBC's journalism - not just in news programmes but across the whole range of the BBC's programme-making.
To return to where we started, this is a unique resource; it would be a terrible waste if the largest possible number of people within the BBC didn't take full advantage of it. The new-look site is designed to encourage them to do just that.
Jonathan Baker is the Head of the BBC College of Journalism
Read an interview with the College of Journalism website editor on the BBC Academy website.
Tuesday 19 June 2012, 10:37
Thursday 21 June 2012, 13:39