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Who's reading what

Steve Herrmann Steve Herrmann | 12:12 UK time, Monday, 26 June 2006

We’ve had our “real-time stats” of most popular stories on the site for a couple of weeks now. No major surprises so far, though the up-to-the-minute rankings by region and section have proved slightly addictive to some of our journalists (and me).

A graphic of the BBC News websiteWhat have we learnt so far and has it changed what we do?

So far, it’s confirmed some things we already knew - that stories about sex, space, technology, showbiz, the environment or animals (or, better, a combination of any of the above) somehow always gets a lot of attention from our readers and viewers. There are also the perennially popular sub-categories, like animals doing human things.

But, as we also knew, the main headlines each day get well read too. So in the past week the most popular stories have included the Saddam trial, the International Whaling Commission conference, the investigation into alleged airline fuel surcharge price-fixing - and of course, the World Cup.

It hasn’t all been predictable – there was the day when the third most popular story was a long series of thoughtful pieces on the future of the world’s cities (not an obvious headline grabber) - or the morning when the most popular video on the site was the full-length version of Gordon Brown’s Mansion House speech.

All this extra data can help inform our thinking – if we see there’s major interest in a story we might look at whether it’s worth following up with a further angle or more information.

We also get clues about what makes for effective signposting and promotion of stories.

But In the end we can’t let it get in the way of the editorial job we are here to do, which is to report on what we judge to be the most important and interesting news around the world, drawing on all the resources we can muster.

I think it just makes it easier for us - and you - to see what the audience's perspective is on it all.


  • 1.
  • At 01:06 PM on 26 Jun 2006,
  • Pat wrote:

I love those cats that look like Hitler - thanks for bringing them to my attention.

  • 2.
  • At 01:20 PM on 26 Jun 2006,
  • David Simkins wrote:

Its all a bit sad really, why not have some friends round for a meal and good conversation instead

Funny old world isn't it?

My local councillor started his blog nearly three years ago. At the time we all thought it was a passing fad.

Now he is accessed everyday by hundreds of local people plus local journalists and even the party's high command.

Part of the charm is that it is so invidualistic, veering from attacks on the war in Iraq to comments about Aston Villa intelligible to only those born within the sound of the rumble of the Aston Expressway.

Not only does Bob add his comment on the news, but so now, does half of Bearwood. Even my cool teenagers want to have a say and spend ICT lessons helping their school friends link up to make comments.

Sorry but the BBC Editor's blog ALREADY feels as it it has been written by a committee.

So I will continue clicking into Councillor Bob Piper's blog during my morning tea break, and even making the occasional comment.

Take a look yourself. make a comment. Tell him "your mate Dave" sent you.

See what I mean about being written by a committee?

I posted my comment and immediately a page appeared telling me that it would have to wait approval from the "blog owener".

On Bob's blog we're in cyberspace immediately.

How long will the BBC editorial committee take to approve this one?

  • 5.
  • At 01:37 PM on 26 Jun 2006,
  • antifrank wrote:

I followed the invitation to see the BBC's new blog. To my disappointment, it is just the same as all the old blogs, moderated. What that means is that a bunch of self-appointed gurus decide which words are worth printing. It is why I abandoned Have Your Say some time ago, and I shall not be coming back until the BBC accepts the general principle that only the entirely unacceptable should be censored.

The new 'up-to-the-minute rankings' section is indeed rather addictive. Is it also included in the rankings?

  • 7.
  • At 01:40 PM on 26 Jun 2006,
  • Graeme Fowler wrote:

Re: Audience Input

Your use of "most popular" is a very interesting addition to the news pages, however there's something which needs to be taken into account.

Will the "most popular" categories become self-fulfilling? You mention in your article that there have been a couple of occasions where the most popular piece or video was a surprise, yet is that simply because it crawled in to the top 5 and then got people's attention?

Be careful with your reading of your statistics - you might occasionally find that they feed themselves!


  • 8.
  • At 01:49 PM on 26 Jun 2006,
  • Patrick wrote:

Nice shiny new blog. I'll be keeping tabs. On the stats, though, do they rank by the order users look at articles in a visit? I might look at a lot of stories in one visit but my marginal utility tends to wane. I'm really interested in the first few but then might read the rest as "what the hell" time-fillers.

  • 9.
  • At 01:50 PM on 26 Jun 2006,
  • Chris Teal wrote:

In Reply to David Simkins -

You can't hold a dinner party between the hours of nine til five and use it to shirk doing work.

Viva la blog!

  • 10.
  • At 03:03 PM on 26 Jun 2006,
  • nimoloth wrote:

Nice blog, however it would be better if there was the facility to reply to existing comments - at the moment you can only add a completely new one.

  • 11.
  • At 05:23 PM on 26 Jun 2006,
  • Carl wrote:

The message boards have been severely restricted, only 1 post every 3 minutes, new posters are in pre-mod from the off. The excuse was the bandwidth, server & staff resources required, but the beeb has got the resources for another Blog spot.

The beeb proposes using the blog to register feedback, this feedback will be tainted as it will only come from those with the time, inclination & equipment to post.

Remember the cat food adverts 9 out of 10 cat owners said their cat preferred brand XXX. The small print added the caveat '9 out 10 of those who purchased the product'. So 10% of purchasers did not think their cats prefered the brand. Too mnay arts graduates at the beeb who do not understand statistics.

  • 12.
  • At 09:49 PM on 26 Jun 2006,
  • John wrote:


Here's a question. What qualifies you - and any of the other editors to (as you put it)

report on what we judge to be the most important and interesting news around the world


This has always mystified me. You can train in 'journalism' (techniques and attitudes for a story) but what about 'editorship'?

Truth is: you just make it up, don't you?

When you get cynical (or 'light-hearted' as you would shrug this critique off) about how curious interest in the state of world's cities is, or in Gordo's speeches, what you really expose is how amateurish and off the mark (or real public interest) you are!

You follow 'normal practice' for choosing headlines and the running order - in whatever medium - and have no real idea whether you are reflecting public interest. You 'lead' public opinion, and do so with the shabbiest of fig-leaves that you are 'balancing' anything at all. And no-one is any the wiser, because..well...what can anyone say? You have it stitched up. Everyone follows the same codes, with some naughty Channel 5/tabloids the exception that proves the rule. How would anyone know what people actually want, if almost all media outlets follow the same leads and take the same line? In fact, I suspect until recently you haven't know and haven't cared about whether you are reflecting opinion, or 'confecting it', hamming it up.

Or at least not until now. Because, now, you can actually see what interests people, and get their feedback, in quantity and often real-time, and increasingly I think you are found lacking, and this trend will develop. Not always mind - people do want mainstream stories and opinions - but the more taste they get for their own actual views.

Good luck. I think you are, however, opening the floodgates - or perhaps turning on some floodlights and turning them onto yourselves. And good for you that you are trying.

But maybe you'll have to go and study some 'editorship' - I find it unlikely the mend-and-make-do philosophy that guides the world's newsrooms will survive real scrutiny!

  • 13.
  • At 11:02 PM on 26 Jun 2006,
  • chris wrote:

I use your site quite a lot. Please don't fall into the classic trap of running after the rating. One of the points of public service broadcasting is to do what commercial media can't.

Yes, I sometimes read about animals doing stupid or intelligent things. But what I really want, is good in-depth coverage of world events. In my work as a novelist, this is what motivates me to use your site.

Your wap service is one of the best edited in the world btw.

It's difficult to how this wouldn't become a circular process; essentially begging the question.

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