Storyline Data Model: Sharing the ontology for BBC News

Director, News Product & Systems

I’m Robin Pembrooke and I’ve recently joined the BBC as the new head of product for News and Weather in Future Media.

In my first blog post I’m going to be telling you about a new data model concept called Storyline which we hope will provide the basis for innovative online journalism partnerships.

Conceptual representation of the Storyline Model

For more details about the above image please see the BBC Ontologies page.


The BBC believes in distributing its work to the wider industry in order to benefit users and other online publishers.

One aspect of this is the thinking around the use of metadata in BBC News stories, how we tag our articles, pictures and video clips to make our content easier to find and more accessible

This year a group of like-minded data architects from a number of UK publishers, including The Guardian and The Press Association, have been informally working on a data model that supports how stories like these are told and they’ve found a lot of common ground in their thinking.

They’ve created what looks like a really interesting and viable model which we’re beginning to build prototype services around. The model has been provisionally called Storyline and we’ve published it on this page alongside other BBC Ontologies.

We believe it will help create more compelling user experiences about evolving News stories, particularly in showing how stories develop over time.

We’re interested in exploring how this could be used as a tool to drive co-operation on stories between different news organisations.

Do get in touch with either myself or Jeremy Tarling if you would like to be involved. We’re very interested to hear views from other news and media companies on how the model could evolve in a way that benefits everyone.

This is a first step in what we hope will be an ongoing programme of active partnership activity from the BBC News Online team both in the UK and overseas. I will be interested to hear your feedback.

Robin Pembrooke is head of product for BBC News and Weather.

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