News Connected Studio

Tuesday 8 January 2013, 14:15

Chris Russell Chris Russell Head of Product

Hi I am the head of product for BBC News Online and lead the product strategy and development of website, mobile, tablet and IPTV products for News.

The change of year is a good time to look back and also forward. In the BBC News Online product team in recent weeks we have been reflecting on a year in which we delivered a number of innovative product features to the audience while also planning an exciting event to kick off 2013: our first Connected Studio for News which begins on January 21.

Pages from BBC News Online

With the delivery of our brand new responsive design website, our coverage of events such as the Diamond Jubilee and the US Presidential elections, 2012 was a huge success in News for what we call our 'Four Screen strategy'.

In the UK alone we saw a 28% increase in weekly unique browsers to our websites and applications, the number of tablets accessing our product more than trebled following a massive increase during Christmas week and there has been a 50% increase via smartphones.

Considering that one-third of our users are now not using a desktop PC it is essential that we continue to deliver great experiences across all devices from phones to connected TVs - not only in 2013 but beyond.

This is where Connected Studio comes in.

One thing that is clear to us from talking to the audience and seeing the trends in how people consume news is that in an age of an endless flow of information with access to the news from all the different devices we carry around with us, people increasingly want to more easily find news that is more relevant to them.

It's not that people don't want to see the big major stories that affect us all and the BBC is committed to ensuring it uses its editorial skills to ensure the world is well informed about the things that really matter to the broadest audience.

However, people are increasingly interested in lots of different topics which affect their own personal daily lives and we think we can do a better job in the future allowing you to follow stories that interest you across multiple devices.

So this is the focus of our Connected Studio initiative - discovering ways to consume and distribute news that is more relevant to people. That might be news about where you live or where you work or what happens on the commute between the two places. Or it might be news about the industry you work in, or something that directly affects friends and family. Or just news about your hobbies and what interests you.

We have a great opportunity to build on the systems and products BBC Online built for the Olympics in 2012 and use linked data to describe our content and make it easier to find.

Our journalists are starting to tag stories accurately for the location, people, companies and organisations that they are about and then by linking this data together we will be able to make it possible for you to find and follow the news that affects you.

Where our current local news sites only offer a limited view of the world in those areas, in future we will be able to surface stories about companies who employ lots of people in an area.

Or when an MP has said something in the House of Commons which features on Democracy Live we will be able to show it immediately to people in the area that he or she represents and also to all the people interested in that subject.

We also want to work with the wider media industry to link to other people's content more effectively in the same way.

The Connected Studio is an opportunity for people from outside the BBC to meet up with experts from our teams, to play with our data and develop product ideas and prototypes which we will show to real audiences during the day.

We are hoping to hear from many people across the media and digital industry who would like to get involved and help us with this exciting challenge.

I look forward to seeing many interesting people gathering to help us on January 21 in the heart of the BBC's new journalism headquarters at New Broadcasting House in London. A creative brief for the studio has been published and you can sign up here.

Chris Russell is head of product for BBC News Online.


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    Comment number 1.

    Sounds interesting but it would be good if the existing features worked properly first!

    For example, the RSS feed for Cambridgeshire ( has been including news stories about Suffolk, Norfolk, Bedfordshire etc

    Is this related to these "Connected Studio" updates?

    It would also be good if we could get RSS feeds that contain local news excluding sport.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    @FishFingers - the reason the feeds are taking stories from other areas is that the feed is taken from stories on the Cambridgeshire index and that index now includes promo boxes for other news in the region.

  • Comment number 3.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    If you want to increase readership of the news site, I think relaxing the overly-stringent commenting policies would encourage more visitors to the site. Thinking, mature adults all over the world pay attention to events, and look to the BBC for facts and information, and some have something to say.
    National health care, and its implementation in America, is just one of many issues relevent to every reader. Running commentaries would serve to inform the newly curious, like me.
    I stopped visiting here a year or more ago when the reader comment forums were discontinued.
    Lift your boot off the neck of your readers, and let them speak their minds, good, bad or indifferent.
    After all, they actually pay for your product!
    A real fan of the BBC.

    Austin, Texas

  • Comment number 5.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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