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Sofa-lising with Newsnight

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Peter Rippon | 17:01 UK time, Friday, 27 May 2011

In 2010 the awful term "sofalising" was coined. It is communicating with friends online while lounging on the sofa rather than going out.

twitter stream

Now we are seeing another interesting online phenomenon - people sitting at home watching a programme on TV while at the same time discussing what they are watching on another screen with friends, or indeed strangers, on social media sites.

There is some data on it here.

This is really interesting territory for Newsnight, or #newsnight as we are known on Twitter. As our viewers pick up on, share and spread the debates introduced on the programme on Twitter, our hashtag can enter the UK trending lists.

This week's film about Alan Bennett's support to save local libraries from government cuts was just the latest example. Bennett reiterated his previously expressed belief that closing libraries constitutes child abuse - his views were then picked up on Twitter, resulting in his name appearing among the most cited phrases in the UK on the social media site after the programme.

This dual-screen media phenomenon is being driven by rapid changes in technology consumption. There has been 40% growth in mobile web use over the last 12 months, on smart phones especially, and all media organisations are predicting it will be a key growth area.

Good TV, especially for an organisation like the BBC, is often about being a space for collective audience experiences where communities can coalesce. And that's why our regular TV audience sat at home watching us on telly while tweeting about us from their laptops or mobiles is so important.

There has even been speculation that we sit in the programme gallery monitoring what is being said on social media and end interviews if someone is not going down well. For the record, we do not. Some nights we might find ourselves having no-one left to interview if we did.

There is an important caveat. Newsnight's social media audience is still a fraction of its television audience, and a fraction of the audience who consume our online content.

The numbers are still dwarfed by viewers who never mind tweeting from their smart phones, might have no internet access at all. So we need to be careful what we take from it but as raw data on what our audiences really think and react to immediately it is really useful.

The BBC is looking into how it can use second screens to complement what is happening on the dominant screen and how it can broaden the discovery, appeal and engagement with its audience by doing so. So watch this space... or should I say both spaces.

Peter Rippon is the editor of Newsnight.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

  • Comment number 2.

    Crikey - haven't you done enough to ruin the blogs. Now we get more rubbish.

  • Comment number 3.

    Aye, too clever by half.
    Killing off the blog communities and wondering about how to make use of the new 'social media'.
    Never stopping to realise that the new social media have (not knowingly of course) always sought to emulate the communities that the bbc had allowed to grow up around itself.
    Now though the existing communities are relegated to becoming a channel over which the bbc can signal about its media.
    A little knowledge...

  • Comment number 4.

    All our worst fears confirmed!

    sofa-lising, twittering, hash-tagging, social-blogging.

    FOR GOD'S SAKE, GROW UP

  • Comment number 5.

    'The BBC is looking into how it can use second screens'

    One is sure there could be an equation to describe it, but as the mechanisms for dissemination proliferate, the resources to provide decent content seem reduced commensurately still further, so one has even less of value spread even more thinly across multiple platforms.

    The result seems somewhat predictable, and is being confirmed near daily by the evidence of one's own eyes.

    Yet despite this, and a rather significant body of feedback that would at the very least deserve an answer in response, the mindset at play in the creche hereabouts seems to be to simply keep punting out ever newer and more shrill happy tunes.

    And if applause isn't heard, (or something worse is), the solution seems to be simply to turn up the volume.

    Worked for a while with the radio suppressing the odd noise from under the bonnet of my first car, but eventually it did blow up.

    'Good TV, especially for an organisation like the BBC, is often about being a space for collective audience experiences where communities can coalesce.'

    Uh-huh. I bet the flip chart was flashing neon around that gem at the in-house presentation. And who defines 'good' here? And for whom... the BBC!!!? Not even going to try and pretend the value to or desires of those who fund even matter any more. Just what serves the bubble dwellers. Nifty.

    While it has its uses, Twitter has many limitations too. The BBC seems so in awe at the potential of the former, it appears blinded to the pitfalls inherent in what Twitter isn't, can't and never will be.

    Already we have less than coherent 'reporters' admitting they get the 'news' they pass on mostly via Twitter. As Ms. Goldsmith discovered, that can be a problem.

    'So we need to be careful what we take from it but as raw data on what our audiences really think and react to immediately it is really useful.

    Ya think? Looking at the twitter feed captured in the image, that doesn't look like friends communicating; that looks like a mixture of tribal followers getting carried along by pied pipers, and sad sacks simply happy that if they pop in a #newsnight or @Newsnight on something sufficiently reinforcing to the editorial narrative, they'll get an RT shout. It's no more than an online version of bunker mentality, where you opt to be immersed only in the comfort zone. As a guide for professional, impartial presentation of news it is utter folly. Already what should be objective reflection of what is gets so tainted by 'what viewers (who have been pre-vetted) are feeling', the net result is next to useless to base any opinion upon.

    Having what is already debased reduced further notches by one part of Islington emoting and engaging with another, especially on what may or may not be happening elsewhere in the world, may be fine for the FaceBook goss generation to LOL about on the sofa with, whether true or not, but no thanks from me. And not on my compelled, uniquely funding contribution, tx very much.

    All summed up neatly in this sentence:

    'And that's why our regular TV audience sat at home watching us on telly while tweeting about us from their laptops or mobiles is so important.'

    A subtle but concerning conflation between what is, might be, should be and 'importance'. For whom, exactly?

    Yet far from pausing to reflect on the considered reactions to this deluge of media innovation being regurgitated, we simply seem to get post after post not only cranking up to 11, but adding more and more amps daily.

    Louder does not mean clearer.

  • Comment number 6.

    Dear Peter Rippon,

    You had me !

    I really believed that you were being serious with your blog-comment (above), and unfortunately responded accordingly, at #2.

    It was only through careful re-reading that I came to realise that you were writing a spoof article.
    Nobody in their right mind could truely contemplate such a direction for the BBC.

    With so many Editors doing so many off-the-wall things at the moment, I thought you were one of them.

    Thanks for the parody, but I think you will have a few apologies to make to your colleagues.

    Geoff Ward.

  • Comment number 7.

    We will be robots very son!

  • Comment number 8.

    WHY ARE YOU NOT GETTING THIS MAJOR CURRENT STORY BREAKING ABOUT THE GREEK-EURO PROTESTS WHERE 30,000 PEOPLE CAME OUT ON THE STREETS??? --SEE NEWS STORY BELOW:
    http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_wsite1_11818_29/05/2011_392649

  • Comment number 9.

    Please, please, please (!) stop going on about tw*tter

  • Comment number 10.

    I'm glad to read that an Editor is taking up the issue of Twitter. It allows me ask again why the BBC has so heavily promoted a for-profit corporation based in California?

  • Comment number 11.

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

  • Comment number 12.

    Isn't this just an admission that the 'modern' BBC output is so lacking in content viewers have to entertain themselves whilst watching it?

    Can someone remind me why I have to pay, on threat of imprisonment if I don't, the uniquely funded BBC over £100 pa for tripe?

  • Comment number 13.

    to be honest, i don't have a clue what this is about.

  • Comment number 14.

    to be honest i don't have a clue what this is or anything.... i just wanted to write something :)

  • Comment number 15.

    So the new way forward;
    "The BBC is looking into ..... how it can broaden the discovery, appeal and engagement with its audience"

    Castrating the Blogs was a good start, effectively eliminated engagement.

    How will the BBC grasp the discovery, and appeal, opportunities.
    Obviously - "use second screens to complement what is happening on the dominant screen" and get people to twitter about whats going on while its happening.
    Perhaps a third screen to display the tweets may help.

    How much do we pay these people!!

  • Comment number 16.

    Sofalising , sounds like someone with a web tv key board and picture in a picture could start a chat room on the tv , And save using there laptop ! with most new tv's
    allready set up for computing...

    Just a tought !

  • Comment number 17.

    ok i kind of know what its about... but it's nothin new. we been loungin over couches for the best part of 50 years? well ages before my time.... 94 was mine :P but i don't know anybody that actually thinks facebook or twitter is a good idea due to abuse, bullying and catching out yuor boyfriends/ girlfriends cheating on you... all i've really gotta say. oh and i have a nice couch :)

  • Comment number 18.

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

  • Comment number 19.

    Yes, of course my comment was removed.

    Too near the truth to be published.

  • Comment number 20.

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

  • Comment number 21.

    Really!!! Sofalising!!!. I like to watch tv to relax or be informed,learn new things or (if I'm lucky and the programme is very good!) maybe all three. What I DO NOT watch tv for, is to sit there,half paying attention to it while gossiping about the thing I'm only half paying attention to! How is that progress? What are you saying about yourself in this article? That paying less attention to everything is a good idea? Tv is already on a slow decline into fad based cretinism, if you promote this then I really will join the many groups rising up against our tv tax.

  • Comment number 22.

    PLEASE for the LOVE of (insert deity of your choice) STOP TALKING ABOUT T*****R!!!!! WHY??? Does the BBC have an agenda on this fatuous faddish folly? It's just sound bytes of opinions! Most of it is dross and the rest is mostly hearsay! Please lead again Beeb, stop just following. Please!

  • Comment number 23.

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

  • Comment number 24.

    Even though I appear to be just 2 minutes late to comment on the story of banks being slow in answering questions by the BBC editor about the subject, I feel very worried about the principle of this issue...
    For instance, is this something that often happens ? Say , the first time since the Tories have been in power since last year? How often has this happened during the many years we had a Labour Goverrnment ?
    As I do not imagine to be the only one to know some of these answers, I am hoping that you will not stop reporting about the matter already. Many thanks.
    cyberpaulus

  • Comment number 25.

    each to their own myself don't multi task where a lot of concentration is involved .
    i would much prefer the television media to concentrate on more new innovative and varied programs. it would also be an idea to have competitions on blog sites for ideas on varied subjects with prizes for the winners,based on results put forward by the bloggers themselves "IE" for expediency for coat hanger 1 nail. that,s the concept rudimentary. it would get the intellectual juices flowing and might help our flagging industry

  • Comment number 26.

    Sofalising - communicating with friends online while lounging on the sofa rather than going out. Is there anyone anywhere (sitting or laying down) who believes sofalising is best way to ponder important matters through, discuss them. Or is the consequence a sort of dumbing down.
    As for people sitting at home watching a programme on TV while at the same time discussing what they are watching on another screen with friends, who are these people? Do they all suffer from Add? Do they need Ritalin? I don't know about you, but I cannot give full justice to more than one important topic at a time - except superficially. I suppose if BBC wants to cater to this superficial bunch...
    Re Alan Bennett's support to save local libraries- his views were then picked up on Twitter. Here's a little test for you: How many, if any of this ADD audience will remember, talk about, or express poignant ideas about libraries or Alan Bennett in say - one week's time?
    The medium is the message (McLuhan), and the message here is that we are developing an audience that flits + flips but lacks anchor and analysis. Maybe this is what media is forced to cater to to stay in business. Maybe this is why we have such dumb programming, sensationalizing, "reality" shows.
    Good TV is often about being a space for collective audience "experiences" where communities can coalesce. How do you define "experiences" - that they've turned to a particular program because that's where all the twittering is happening? I guess twittering makes the twitterer feel important, but does the twitter content reflect that?
    I should hope you are monitoring what is being said on social media, but not end interviews if someone or something is not going down well. For the record, BBC does not terminate, but if the suspicion is there, some input must be pretty lame, even boring and dumb.
    As you say, you need to be careful what we take from it but as raw data on what our audiences "really" think, you MAY BE WAY OFF THE MARK. Twitterers are like birds; they tend to chirp in a flock; they like togetherness, being part of something they think of as important. Trying asking them why they think someone or something is important?
    The BBC is looking into how it can use second screens to complement what is happening on the dominant screen and how it can broaden the discovery, appeal and engagement with its audience by doing so. Oh please, let's not encourage this popular ADD... rather we should foster deep thought, soul-searching, true beliefs, real reality.
    Would that leave BBC

  • Comment number 27.

    You may not belive but it is partially true here in Vietnam. Many of our friends at www.landnet.vn share that they prefer online chatting with friends than going out. They find out that online communication help them to create and cultivate stranger feelings and give them opportunities to be open to hidden desires. Sometimes, being online is smth like they are living in other lives with other charateristics and capability.

  • Comment number 28.

    Given last night's Newsnight, a bit of sofalising may have been a step to far...

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/newsnight/fromthewebteam/2011/06/tonight_on_the_programme_we.html?postId=109457231

 

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