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Social media focus

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Sam Taylor | 12:04 UK time, Monday, 16 November 2009

BBC News has today appointed its first social media editor, to develop the way we gather news from our audiences, and make more of our journalism available on social networks.

Audiences have always contributed directly to the BBC's newsgathering, especially on breaking stories. But the technology allowing people to share and send photos, video, and eyewitness accounts is developing all the time.

Important developments in Iran, China, and even New York, have been reported for the first time using services such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

BBC News is always working to keep across new sources of information, assessing and verifying them as it would any other potential source of news-making content, and this new role will help to develop that.

Many internet users are also changing the way they consume news, by sharing and commenting on stories on social networks.

In common with other media organisations the BBC wants to ensure it is as simple as possible for audiences to interact with us, and deepen our relationship with them in the interests of strengthening our journalism.

Alex GubbayAlex Gubbay, who is currently news editor for BBC Sport Interactive will take on this new role in January, co-ordinating the work of correspondents and reporters using social media tools, and ensuring best practice is developed and shared within the BBC.

He will manage the existing user generated content hub within BBC Newswire, making the most of news stories suggested by users, as well as their case studies, photographs, videos and comments, across our website, and on TV and radio. The new role is being funded by redistributing money within BBC Newsroom.

Alex will have a particular focus on developing new ways for audiences to have their say on stories being covered by BBC News, and he will be blogging here frequently in the New Year.

Sam Taylor is the editor of Newswire.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    "Audiences have always contributed directly to the BBC's newsgathering, especially on breaking stories. But the technology allowing people to share and send photos, video, and eyewitness accounts is developing all the time."

    Whilst the above is so very true it is also very true that these new technologies also allow inaccurate information to spread like a wild fire, I hope that suitable checks and balances are going to be in place - if they are not already - better to be last with the correct news than first with the totally wrong news!

  • Comment number 2.

    as an avid reader and viewer of the bbc i can only say i hope this move is the right one and will only improove the service.

  • Comment number 3.

    Please don't use this type of input unless it really does add to our understanding of the situation. Recently you made repeated use of some poor quality, shaky video of an armed robbery at a London jewellers which did no more than induce nausea.

    I am also concerned at the number of times you repeat very short segments of amateur film taken during protests which appear to show police aggression, when in fact they have been under intensive and orchestrated provocation designed to capture that 5 second loop of an 'innocent' protester being pushed. Context is vital.

    Make sure you know the source or you will be manipulated. If in doubt, leave it out. Be different from commercial broadcasters or you lose your purpose.

  • Comment number 4.

    The less we use antisocial networking the better in my view.

    I hope the BBC don't start making the assumption that we've all read about it on twitter or facebook or have watched the footage on youtube already when they give you the story on TV, radio or the website. It might sound unlikley but it's the sort of thing that happens all the time with 'social' networking sites.

    I frequently have friends start conversations with me that start about half way in bacause they assume that I have read all about it on Facebook already. The classic example was me being told about a house party in my own home by my sister who was invited on facebook by my flatmate (and jokingly annoyed that I hadden't invited her myself). Ok I knew the party was likley to happen and was actually the instigator of the idea, but it does illustrate the point and it's the sort of thing that happens all the time with slightly more socaily important events.

    People dont talk to each other anymore!

    It would be nice to have the occasional phonecall or face to face conversation or even a messenger conversation online instead of just reading facts about each others lives on their online profile.

  • Comment number 5.

    The BBC do not make anywhere enough use of available "news" available on major outlets. The BBC needs to drop most of its own "agendas" and "favourites" before it ventures into "other" areas. We all know "who" and "what" these are.

  • Comment number 6.

    #5. At 8:58pm on 16 Nov 2009, Angel_in_Transit wrote:

    "The BBC do not make anywhere enough use of available "news" available on major outlets. The BBC needs to drop most of its own "agendas" and "favourites" before it ventures into "other" areas. We all know "who" and "what" these are."

    Do "we", I suspect that if you asked 100 people to name the "who" and "what" you would get 100 different answers dependant on each persons 'pet rant'...

  • Comment number 7.

    I can see the value of this eg. a citizen with a camera phone is stood next to virtually every incident these days.

    Hopefully there will be careful checking of what is being reported though.

    I remember the de menezes incident and the grossly incorrect initial reporting apparently based on people at the scene. Some of this was then not put right by the police, when they had the oportunity. But all sorts of nonsense about people being chased onto the platform came from people at the scene.

    I think you have some well developed principles about reporting traditional sources of news - how developed are your rules on this? If you are not careful we could end up with some very distorted ideas about what is happening during the early stages of major incidents.

  • Comment number 8.

    #6

    If the BBC did the research on its usual "small" samples, telephone voting, blogs etc then I have to agree with you. However the bigger picture is easier to peruse given the vast numbers of online news media available to us all. The BBC has a special position but it has grown to abuse its privileges - anyone older than, say, forty, remembers well. It is top heavy - not a healthy construct.

  • Comment number 9.

    #8. At 08:24am on 17 Nov 2009, Angel_in_Transit wrote:

    "The BBC has a special position but it has grown to abuse its privileges - anyone older than, say, forty, remembers well. It is top heavy - not a healthy construct."

    Of course if you were not just ranting you would be able to name either the "who" and "what", if not both, sorry but as someone 'over forty' I do not know what you are talking about and certainly not when being compared to the other main UK 24hr broadcast news provider who seems more intent on pushing their sister publications and/or their owners agenda - oh and before you accuse me of being less than clear as to who I'm talking about, I am of course referring to those channels and publications owned/run by News International.

  • Comment number 10.

    #1 - As long as the tabloids continue to 'manufacture' stories, I don't think there's much chance of that

  • Comment number 11.

    #3 - Mutant Firend wrote

    "I am also concerned at the number of times you repeat very short segments of amateur film taken during protests which appear to show police aggression, when in fact they have been under intensive and orchestrated provocation designed to capture that 5 second loop of an 'innocent' protester being pushed. Context is vital."

    Context is indeed vital, there are hundreds of clips of different locations all appearing to show "police aggression" perhaps the intensive and orchestrated provocation was so extremely widespread that nearly everyone who attended also fell victim to this propoganda and so believed the Police to be "out of order" when in fact "kettling" is not an "intensive and orchestrated provocation designed to provoke a violent reaction" to be subsequently quelled by suitably equipped people in a pre-planned location.
    I believe that Kettling is only successful as a strategy if you believe a riot is inevitable and that squashing 500 people into an area usually occupied by 20 and holding them there for 4 hours is justified by the fact that the subsequent riot is suitably contained.

  • Comment number 12.

    #7 - jon112uk wrote

    "I remember the de menezes incident and the grossly incorrect initial reporting apparently based on people at the scene. Some of this was then not put right by the police, when they had the oportunity. But all sorts of nonsense about people being chased onto the platform came from people at the scene."

    I also remember the De Menezes incident and the grossly incorrect (and slanderous to a dead man's reputation) reporting that went on right up until the Health and Safety prosecution.

  • Comment number 13.

    Suffering is suffering. When the BBC doesn't understand this then they are not impartial.

    IMHO The BBC has coward to the right wing and the break down of society has escalated. The BBC's moral authority has diminished, but not that of David Attenborough ;-)

    Not sending a message to help the innocent is not what I pay my license fee for.

    I felt it was wrong at the time the BBC pulled ads to give donations to the suffering people of Palestine and I still feel the same.

    Act in the actions of Christ; not the words of men of war.

    http://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches/articles/inside-britains-israel-lobby-pamphlet

  • Comment number 14.

    re 13 i have replyed to many b.b.c.comments to know avail,the middleclass norm!they spend time and our money on u.s.a.tripe(O.J.SIMPSON)I.E.or their elections,we know that their elections will effect us but we have no say in who they elect so all we need to know is who our leaders are going to grovel to!it would be good if the b.b.c.news reported and gave more time to events that matter to british news that effect the man and woman in the sreet(n.h.s.)for one(care homes)etc.far more important than american news.so please for once b.b.c.rember the americans donot give ahoot what we think and why should they.

  • Comment number 15.

    #9

    "sorry but as someone 'over forty' I do not know what you are talking about and certainly not when being compared to the other main UK 24hr broadcast news provider"

    Firstly your sentence doesn't make sense - you say you "don't know" and then you say you do "(certainly) when compared". Make up your mind. As for mass media nowhere did I refer to the UK or the USA. Technology takes the broader minded much further and if you do not know where then shame on you.

    And being "over forty" qualifies you for both pre-senile and senile dementia - poor thing.

  • Comment number 16.

    #11

    As I recall there was no link between the innocent man who was pushed to the ground by a police officer and the "kettling" which is a tactic used in controlling travelling football supporters for example. Most of those at G20 were peaceful, well behaved and abused by heavy handed policing. The BBC was late reporting on this.

    #12

    Most of the misinformation on Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell came from the police themselves. Although he was not aware of it he was "chased" onto the platform by police who did leap the barriers. But the abusive slanders continued with his "illegal" status (found to be false) and failing to respond to police commands (witnesses said he did everything asked of him) amongst others. The BBC has recently interviewed the former Commissioner of the Metropolitan police on this subject. Its a great pity the press did little else than act as a conduit for the police at the time.

    One wonders exactly what would have happened to anyone caught "snapping" this tragic event in a London tube station.

  • Comment number 17.

    #15. At 11:38pm on 17 Nov 2009, Angel_in_Transit wrote:

    #9

    "sorry but as someone 'over forty' I do not know what you are talking about and certainly not when being compared to the other main UK 24hr broadcast news provider"

    Firstly your sentence doesn't make sense - you say you "don't know" and then you say you do "(certainly) when compared".


    Obviously English is not your first language then!

    Good-day to you and your anti BBC rants...

  • Comment number 18.

    16. At 00:04am on 18 Nov 2009, Angel_in_Transit wrote:

    "Most of those at G20 were peaceful"

    Looked more like a 'Rent-a-mob' to most people, the police did a great job...

  • Comment number 19.

    Another worthy blog bites the dust via the politically motivated ranters. :-(

  • Comment number 20.

    . At 5:58pm on 16 Nov 2009, Colonicus42 wrote:

    "...People dont talk to each other anymore!.."
    How true my friend.
    I was invited to a birthday party, recently, whilst sitting in my dining room on my laptop. The person inviting me? My lodger, sitting upstairs in my bedroom, using my other laptop on facebook.

    Bizarre.

  • Comment number 21.

    I think it's great that news is available via a multitude of media today. We've moved on a thousand fold since news was delivered by a town cryer, shouting out the main stories of the day. Along came John Bull and the means to print a story and very quickly an industry of reporting and delivering the 'news' took a huge leap.

    It has always been and will always be about speed. The news just isn't news unless it's delivered to the required audience as quickly as is humanly possible.

    That used to be by word of mouth, and stories would be embellished like a game of chinese whispers. Once print came along, and a network of reporters pushed stories back to their editor, a culture of 'honest' reporting was born. Of course, there were unscrupulous 'reporters' who would sell their story to the highest bidder, and so the 'gutter press' was born.

    Thanks to Mr Marconi the Radio Telegraph superseded the cables laid under the oceans and a more instant means of sending messages came about. Oddly, we've regressed back to cable technology in many ways, but to our advantage. Can anyone reading remember when the news was available only on the 'wireless' and then cinema got involved? I'm not that old, but like Boilerplated, am over 40, and so according to Angel_In_Transit, must be pre-senile - I'm guessing you are pre-idiot then. Come back when you're a fully fledged idiot and we can help you become a person.

    Then came the Televisual Revolution that was one more step for News, but a giant leap for Newskind. It's exploded, and is still exploding. A bit like the big bang - becoming exponentially faster, bigger, better. Where will it end?

    Yes, checks and balances are needed, and are indeed applied. There have been mistakes, but it's a learning process. How many people reading and contributing here could have imagined, 5 years ago, that they themselves could have such an instant input on the news of the day, no the hour, the minute.

    You get it via text to your mobile phone. It pops up on your computer screen, or you can install a ticker to see the headlines all day, every day, every hour, every minute.

    I wish the BBC and Alex luck. You're (the BBC, not Alex) my #1 source of news on the internet and TV.

  • Comment number 22.

    Hi Sam

    Thinking about the forthcoming general election, I was wondering if the BBC has thought about using twitter to gather exit polls data?

    http://reid24hrs.blogspot.com/2009/11/general-election-20-will-twitter-be.html

    Reid

  • Comment number 23.

    Yes, Twitter would really catch a flavour of the less than 1% of the country [rollseyes]

    Someone asking the question at several carefully selected swing constituencies would maybe work better.

  • Comment number 24.

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

  • Comment number 25.

    Interesting - I wait to see which social media the BBC will favour and how they will use it :)

  • Comment number 26.

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

  • Comment number 27.

    Was not the subject of loose language and poor grammar use by BBC news presenters dealt with recently?
    On today's (Fri. 11 Dec.) 1 p.m. News Sophie Raworth introduced an item then asked the on-location correspondent: [quote] “Tell us what we know...”
    Oh please, Newsroom Editor/s, get a grip on this. It is very annoying.
    May I suggest use of a simple test: does the sentence translate intelligibly into another language? If not, rephrase. Simples!

    Oh, I thought of something else, may I?
    Why is it 'necessary' to have a reporter far out on location to do the duologue with the news anchor person? If no interviews or filming is taking place it adds little to the viewer experience of a story (often very short ones). Bring the plods in from the cold, sit them on a chair in the studio.
    TWV

  • Comment number 28.

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

  • Comment number 29.

    I think this is definitely a great step forward for BBC. The Mumbai terror attacks last year were a case in point about the use of technologies like twitter and facebook to provide on the ground coverage.

    Last week I attended a somewhat geeky seminar and it surprised me how many people actually live on platforms like twitter - especially through their mobile phones.. it's past the fad stage for many news junkies and its been integrated into daily living already.

    Needless to say the sources and content still need to be verified but I think readers will certainly benefit for prompter coverage. Look forward to adding BBC to my follow list everywhere!

    Toonman

 

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