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BBC Manchester Blog

  • Richard Fair
  • 23 Aug 06, 03:47 PM

One of the things we thought we'd do at the start of this blog was explain exactly what it is we're trying to accomplish. For years, the BBC has been looking at ways to engage more directly with it's audiences. We've promoted email addresses on air and asked for photo submissions, we've stuck comment forms on the bottom of articles, we've spend countless hours building message boards and community platforms, our staff have reviewed and approved millions upon millions of messages - and what have we learned? That all this is expensive business.

In the past, whenever the BBC has sought to do something with user generated content we've built new platforms, taken on the role of managing all the content that floods in, asserted some rights over that content (although not ownership in the vast majority of cases) and, some would argue, exposed the BBC to legal and moral risks. Furthermore, doing things in the old way had a bit of a sting in the tail - if a service really took off, and sometimes they did, the BBC would actually face increased costs because our services often don't scale well.

This project is an experiment in doing things a bit differently. Rather than building platforms, we want to help people create their own stuff on existing third party (non-BBC) platforms. Instead of contributors sending us content members of staff here at the BBC sifting through that content in a bid to find the good bits, we're simply going to ask contributors to tell us where they're publishing their content online and we'll keep an eye on it. The BBC won't claim any rights over the content and won't own anything.


Here's the plan in a nutshell:

We're looking for one or two participants in each each of the ten boroughs of Manchester
We'll organise a series of workshops for participants. During the first we'll talk participants through the BBC's Editorial Guidelines and talk about about the BBC's production values. Then we'll ask participants what sort or content (text, photos, video, audio?) they might want to create and we'll match them up with a BBC member of staff with production experience in that area.
Participants will then be shown existing 3rd party, that is non-BBC, websites that will enable them to publish their content online.
BBC Manchester blog staff will then subscribe to the RSS feeds of each participant and keep an eye on what they publish. We'll always link to the front page of their content, so long as they don't break the BBC's editorial guidelines, and when they publish something we think deserves to be highlighted we'll do so in the main body of the BBC Manchester blog.

Here's what everyone will get out of it:

The participants will get access to production advice and bespoke tutorials on creating and publishing content online using the tools of their choice. When their content is highlighted, they'll get (hopefully!) a burst of traffic from the BBC Manchester website. We'll do everything we can to help participants make their participation self-financing but won't be offering payment.
BBC Manchester will have the opportunity to build relationships with users/content contributors in a much more sustainable way in the past.
The BBC Manchester blog will act as a showcase for the project and, in particular, the best content that's been produced by contributors and highlighted by the BBC. This will be a "one stop shop" for BBC Manchester journalists who may want to read out content on-air, contact contributors for background information about a story, reuse a gig review on the website, or even ask a participant to go on Northwest Tonight (our regional TV news) to explain something they've covered online.

Would you like to get involved? If you've already got a blog, profile on a social networking site, flickr account, etc then let us know where to find it by sending an email to

Robin and Richard

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