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News Connected Studio

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Chris Russell Chris Russell | 14:15 UK time, Tuesday, 8 January 2013

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.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

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

    For example, the RSS feed for Cambridgeshire (http://feeds.bbci.co.uk/news/england/cambridgeshire/rss.xml) 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

    Chuck
    Austin, Texas

  • Comment number 5.

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

  • Comment number 6.

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

  • Comment number 7.

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

  • Comment number 8.

    My greatest bugbear with bbc news is the seeming complete lack of subtitle support for the videos across the whole site.
    IPlayer has it sure, but given the promotion of video content from both news and weather on the site I'm constantly struggling to lipread from the poor video quality, or where there are no presenters, at a complete loss on the content of the story.
    A large proportion of the videos don't even have article links, providing only a very brief description of the content.

  • Comment number 9.

    I think the upgrade of the digital platform for the Olympics last year was a fantastic achievement for the BBC... it certainly puts them on the right track given where technology convergence is heading.

    Pity I won't be in the UK for the 21st - I would have loved to experience the Connected Studio first-hand!

    Patrick

  • Comment number 10.

    Chris really a great job done over the last year - and I agree with Patrick F (#9) above - the digital platform is a leap into the future for BBC.

    Am hoping there are more opportunities like the Knight-Mozilla fellowship in 2013 to build on the innovation that's already been rolled out.

  • Comment number 11.

    Looking forward to attending with my son on the 21st Jan Chris - think the Connected Studio is really a fantastic opportunity. Bit disappointed that a lot of the BBC innovation focus has moved off disabled access recently though - not as much bang for buck I imagine when compared to some of the other initiatives but I think it's important nonetheless.

    John

  • Comment number 12.

    I think 2012 was a superb year for the BBC - especially with the coverage of the Olympics and the US elections... think just the traffic figures says it all: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2012/07/online_olympics_traffic.html

    Curious to know if any new technologies will be launched as part of the Connected Studio initiative.

  • Comment number 13.

    I think the ideas you've suggested are great - the local pages certainly could do with more info. Articles were either short or there were few of them added each day (that's certainly the experience I get for the Hampshire pages).

    The comment about the subtitles is valid enough, as well as some compatibility issues with some devices - my android phone for example despite the BBC Media Player app.

    Also, I notice that when inserting a weather map onto a news article, it is in the old style rather than the more current style used on the weather website. Perhaps that too needs addressing.

    Overall however, I have few qualms with the BBC News website, a really great site allround.

  • Comment number 14.

    Thanks everyone for your comments. I have a few answers to some of the points raised.

    FishFingers - we've been working on a fix to that problem you have identified following feedback we received by email. “Up Your Ego” is right to say this happened when we added neighbouring areas to the local pages and we aim to fix it by the end of the month. You may be interested that this change to the local pages was something we did following feedback from the audience that there wasn't enough relevant news on each local page. People who live near the border between different BBC areas are often interested in both parts of the world. We'll review the content in the RSS feeds to see if its appropriate to remove local sport and we're also starting to investigate a way in which the user can define what type of content appears in RSS feeds.

    Victor Hugo – we constantly review which stories we invite comments on. Depending on the ideas people bring along on the day it might be something we can explore in the Connected Studio sessions.

    AdamM and rafmarham – we’re working in 2013 on new pages to display video as well as improving the quality of video plus better support for Android devices. Subtitling is not always available for all news clips in the same way as it is for programmes that are produced for broadcast and available on iPlayer but I appreciate that this would really improve the experience for a number of people. As we develop responsive design, we will improve the way we show weather and strengthen our links with BBC Weather.

    AmandaCh – we’re certainly hoping that some of the ideas we get from the Connected Studio will make it through to the audience and product in some form, so watch this space!

    Chris

  • Comment number 15.

    'Thanks everyone for your comments'

    Including the 30% obliterated?

 

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