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News ticker, most shared and most read

Steve Herrmann Steve Herrmann | 10:03 UK time, Tuesday, 10 March 2009

We're making a change soon to the News website front page "ticker" of latest news headlines.

old version of BBC News website ticker

We've redesigned it to give more prominence to breaking news - as well as to latest headlines and to upcoming scheduled news events. You'll be able to stop or replay the ticker items and click straight through to video, as well as to stories.

new version of BBC News website ticker

The ticker has always carried breaking news, but we've had only one "level" for any headline that appears, so it's not very obvious when there's something we regard as more urgent or important which we want you to see. This will give us more options to signal why we are placing something in the ticker, and how important we think it is. See what you think.

While I'm here, can I update you on a couple of other small changes?

most popular and most shared storiesOn the "Most read" story lists which appear on the right-hand side of every page, we've changed the "Most emailed" tab to "Most shared", so that it includes not only items shared by email, but also stories which have been bookmarked or recommended by you on other sites such as Facebook or Digg. The idea is to get a broader range of input to these recommendations.

We're also leaving the "Most read" list set at ten headlines, because it's clear that you are making use of these slightly longer lists, browsing through them and picking out stories of interest. As ever, we're keen to hear what you think about any or all of these changes.

Update 1308: For those watching carefully, you may have noticed that the new ticker has appeared - at the moment, it's on the UK edition front page only, we're working on the international edition front page now.

Update 1600: The new ticker is now successfully up and running on both editions of the site.

Update Thursday 1718: Thanks for your comments; I've posted a reply below.

Steve Herrmann is editor of the BBC News website.


  • Comment number 1.

    How about having your ticker code embeddable on other site's web pages?

    Also, if you do make an embeddable object for other web pages, to replicate the style, font and colours of the "bar" at the bottom on the BBC News Channel would be fitting...

  • Comment number 2.

    As long as it doesn't slow the site down even more then it sounds promising.

    If it does slow it down more then I'd rather you didn't. The BBC news website is getting slower and slower due to all the embedded flash your're using. Much more slower and I'll be looking elsewhere for news

  • Comment number 3.

    Finally! Not being able to stop or rewind the ticker used to be very annoying. Thanks for doing it.

    And madclarinet; there's always the 'low graphics' version of BBC News Online. Very quick, no flash, and still the same news!

  • Comment number 4.

    I'm very pleased to see this change - I participated in a survey about the BBC News website a few months ago and complained about the inability to click on a story on the old ticker that was still being 'typed'. Glad to see the feedback being taken into consideration :)

    @madclarinet Much of the BBC's use of new visual technologies online has not been Flash, despite its appearance; they're using JavaScript with jQuery, which actually uses less memory than the same effect rendered using Flash. Good news for everyone!

  • Comment number 5.

    I'm glad you have the left & right arrows. The reveal is /way/ too slow - I get bored waiting for it!

    Seriously...faster reveal please - just use the pause between stories to give people time to read it. Don't leave us hanging on every word waiting for it to be displayed. The information is the interesting thing here, not the way it's presented. Another example of style being seen to be more important than content?

  • Comment number 6.

    Great idea! More in-keeping with other news services and much more informative.

    The pause/next/previous buttons are a little ugly, though.

  • Comment number 7.

    about damn time!

    however, I do agree with madclarinet that the speed of the site should be a priority. It's why I use this site as my primary source of news and why I have it set as my homepage.

  • Comment number 8.

    Just re-read my comment #5 above, much more critical than I meant it to be. Other than tweaking the reveal speed, I think it's a great improvement. Keep it up...just faster :)

  • Comment number 9.

    I'd really like to see you revisit your style guidelines for news headlines - I use an RSS reader and sometimes the BBC News story headlines are like a cryptic crossword clue ! They are phrased as if you're writing newspaper headlines, but I think you can afford to be a bit more wordy with the story headlines, and make them a bit easier on the reader.

    Also, I'm not sure why every line in a story has to be in it's own paragraph. It makes it harder to read for me.

  • Comment number 10.

    petrot (Comment 3)

    I know there is a low graphics version but the speed of the site is important. I'm on a very fast network at work and on a 10Mbs connection at home.

    The site is slowing down a lot - I'm all for such stuff like the embedded audio, but not at the reduction in page loading that I'm seeing. The page loads but its still a short time before I'm able to scroll the page or anything - it gets annoying.

    Part of my job is creating webpages/web based systems. People who use them often comment on how fast they load.

  • Comment number 11.

    SundayParkGeorge (5) - yep agree that it's far too slow. Great to have the reveal, but it should be faster than average reading speed. I don't want to have to wait. It's the same with the ticker on the BBC News Channel - far too slow.

    The changes are great though!

  • Comment number 12.

    Much better Steve.

    Though now that you've put those back/forward arrows in, I find myself clicking them immediately to see all the headlines, rather than waiting for the reveal.

    It's inevitable I suppose!

  • Comment number 13.

    The header image and text gets highlighted in Safari when you use the controls in the right hand side. Apparently, this happens in Chrome too.

  • Comment number 14.


    Congrats on the new format of the news ticker....

    ~Dennis Junior~

  • Comment number 15.

    New ticker is irritatingly slow.

  • Comment number 16.

    New ticker is apparently much better than before it was.Really make Breaking news more highlighted.

  • Comment number 17.

    Well, the ticker is more prominent, but from my point of view that's not a good thing. I've never seen the point of having this feature, I can't see what it adds in terms of either content or usefulness to the reader.

    Of the 'Latest' and 'Breaking News' items running at this moment, all link to stories elsewhere on the news site, a couple are already in the 'Other Top Stories' links, however none of them are important enough to appear on the main page in their own right.

    It's a news site so I expect 'breaking news' as a matter of course, and I trust the BBC as an editor to make sure new and important stories are shown on the front page as soon as possible.

    Would like to have an option to turn the ticker off!

  • Comment number 18.

    I once heard that the website headlines are short because ceefax is also generated from the same database.

  • Comment number 19.

    I like the principle of this update but the slow type is quite frustrating and probably unnecessary.

    I would prefer the text all appearing from above in one go, more like a vertical scroll.

  • Comment number 20.

    Definitely an improvement that we can back up now, but I wouldn't have noticed if I hadn't read this blog post! First of all, the buttons are off at the edge and not obviously associated with the ticker, and more importantly, I don't always maximise my windows, and the buttons aren't even visible in that case. So, it's better, but to make it better still you should think a little more about the interface....

  • Comment number 21.

    SundayParkGeorge: If you hover your mouse while the text is appearing it will all come up instantly.

    Good job, I like the new look.

    One thing that always bugged me was breaking stories that don't yet have an article link to the home page... maybe don't make them a hyperlink, it avoids the needless page refresh. I've yet to see a breaking story on the new ticker.

  • Comment number 22.

    How about you exclude any articles older than 2 years from the most read/shared/etc. lists? Nothing aggravates me more than clicking some headline in the most read list only to find it's some archaic article from 2004 or 2002. It's not news anymore, it's history, and if I wanted to read archives I'd seek them out myself. Even 2 years is a compromise, but better than the current situation.

  • Comment number 23.

    Hopefully the changes will propagate to the mobile news versions. Why we need a mobile version for 3G handsets is beyond me these days, best to give us a choice? there's not even a link to the sports site from the mobile news page.

  • Comment number 24.

    Here are a few changes I'd like to see:

    1. The ability to post comments on all news stories.

    2. Peer moderation on HYS rather than BBC thought policing.

    3. The ability to reply directly to other peoples comments and create threads like a proper forum.

    Chances of any of those happening? Slim to non-existent.

  • Comment number 25.

    Ticker looks great.

    One suggestion I have though is for Breaking news to be a separate bar, rather than included in latest news. So if a story breaks, the latest news ticker moves down and the breaking news one appears above it. Just my 2p.

  • Comment number 26.

    On second* glance the speed did seem a bit slow, but the navigation aids to move forward and back (as well as the 'insta-reveal' by mousing over) strike me as more than adequate if I'm in a hurry.

    I noted it was my second glance to point out that the change was not glaring or overbearing to my eye. While it seems a bit slow it would be _much_ worse if it were too fast as that would be distracting.

    Good Show. The BBC News website continues to set the mark for serious news delivery in my opinion.

  • Comment number 27.

    Not a bad idea in principal - but as an international user, accessing the site in an office environment I really don't want to click through to a video.

    BTW why are most of the default pages (e.g Technology/Economy/Companies etc) on the international site obsolete at the moment????

  • Comment number 28.

    Great tip thanks :) Can just click the right and left buttons too to get at the information more quickly.

    Seems to somehow defeat the purpose of the typical non-interactive ticker though - and you can often get left with it paused by mistake.

    Still, a great improvement, only spoilt for me by this one irritation that niggles whenever I look at it!

  • Comment number 29.

    I have no problem with the buttons being off to the edge like that. God knows you've already made enough concessions for these people who choose not to open their browser fully! The buttons are not "essential content" by any stretch of the imagination, so off to the right is fine.

    May as well add, while I'm here...

    When are you going to replace those awful icons that sit at the bottom of every news page (Email news - Mobiles - Alerts - News feeds - Podcasts... )? Apart from being dull, they really do look dreadful when reduced to that size, with jagged edges. Can't you get your design team to come up with something more slick and modern?

  • Comment number 30.

    I had the old ticker at the top of my screen (jammed in via active desktop). I only knew that there was a change as the old one was jammed at the story about the 2 year old and the TV. Any chance that could be updated to let others know things have changed?

    Unfortunately it is not so easy to stick the new one on my desktop.

    I have, however, managed to hack a little something together that lets me put the new one up, but it fails to let me open links on it.

    Could you
    a) Put it back in a frame (preferably the old frame name) so I can easily put it on my desktop.

    b) Have a nice way to turn off the big red animated headline thing from moving up and down on the screen as I fear it will prove irritating soon.


  • Comment number 31.

    The LATEST heading appears not to be compatible with Clear Type. I have had it go all blurry on my monitor at work.

  • Comment number 32.

    I for one don’t like the revel. Previous, the characters appeared to be “typed” revealing the next letter all in one go – like ye olde time tickers.

    Now the underscore slides along revealing the characters like the blind date screen reveal. If you’re going to include this reference to the old days of news delivery, then the detail needs to be right.

    If you’re going to revolutionise it, then do something drastic, like copy the scrolling text from BBC News Channel. After all isn’t the BBC all about have a uniform look so viewers can be in no doubt about where they’re getting there news from?

    The ability to pause, fast forward and rewind, along with click on the link before it finishes typing are all welcomed features. Something about the text makes it appear more dominate/chunky which I’m not sure is a good thing.

  • Comment number 33.

    I agree with lookout (post 32) that it isn't quite right with the new style text reveal. Ticker type was a character at a time.

    Also I'm getting two different front pages. When I fired up the main news page I got the UK version. I've since reloaded it and have the international version. Both, I believe, are from the same web address, just that some fancy script works out what I get depending on my IP address.
    I'm up in sunny Aberdeen, but our company proxy comes out in Holland, making me look like I'm outside the UK.

    How do I force it to be the UK version without setting up some proxy server?

  • Comment number 34.

    And do we have limits on what exactly is 'Breaking news' and should be highlighted in red?

    Eg, this is currently up:
    "BREAKING NEWS:English hospital admissions for assault with sharp objects fell 8% between 2007 and 2008"

    I'd hardly count a statistic of historical information as something that should be so prominently marked.

  • Comment number 35.

    I agree with comment #9 on almost cryptic feed headlines. As it stands I often open an item only to realise I'm not at all interested in it, but I'm sure this must apply backwards in as much as I must overlook cryptic headlines that don't make their story clear that I might be interested in after all. Just give us the same headline in the feed as you do on the linked story.

    I like the new ticker, but it'd look a lot less cluttered of the play/pause, previous and next buttons only appeared on hover. (Because most people will mouseover the ticker to click and then find that it zipps to the next headline, IMO).

  • Comment number 36.

    This actually changed a little while ago with the old one...

    But I remember that the JS used to write the headlines to the page used to remember where you left the page if you went back in your browser.

    That was very handy when clicking the headline links and going back to see the next one.

    I know the icons make that obsolete (kind of) - but I like as little interaction as possible =P

  • Comment number 37.

    Have to agree with #34 - I think the big shouty red 'Breaking News' bar is being overused somewhat, and consequently watering down its effect.

    I honestly feel it would be better if red (which we all take to signify urgency) was reserved for important breaking news stories, rather than every breaking news story.

    You will be dealing with far more urgent stories than "Inter Milan deny allegations that coach Jose Mourinho assaulted a fan" - so why diminish the importance/effect of the red bar treatment by applying it to such (relatively) trivial items?

    Please, exercise more restraint in how you present breaking news. Otherwise, it just makes you appear as if you're sacrificing editorial judgment in the quest to compete with the tabloids/Sky/ITV as to who can be the most sensationalist.

  • Comment number 38.

    Regarding speed and controls: there was a range of opinions, both in the blog comments and our other feedback channels. We've actually made the ticker faster than it was before. We also have to strike a balance too, we decided to keep the ticker tape style because our audience testing has consistenly shown that, in general, our audiences like it. For those who do find it too slow, we've added to additional controls to allow you to read the items more quickly.

    Bugs: there is an issue with Safari and Chrome where the ticker bar turns blue when the user uses the control buttons. We are looking into this now.

    Site speed: the speed of the site is a huge priority for us too and is something we monitor continuously. Implementing the ticker in JavaScript meant that we were able to offer a lighter service than we would have been able to had we used Flash.

    RSS: Gee4orce, we've got this on our list. Our feeds currently display "overtypes" which are made at index level. These are often shorter and make sense in the context of the page, but less so in a feeds list.

    We'll continue to look at your feedback as we develop the ticker. Thanks for all the comments.

  • Comment number 39.

    Steve, can you tell me/us how to disable this new ticker? Perhaps you could offer a disable option (via setting a cookie so that it remains disabled when the page is reloaded) along with all the other control buttons. Sorry but this re-styled ticker really is not needed, it's distracting, it's simply yet more BBC dumbing down.

    Treat people like imbeciles and in time they will become imbeciles...

    If disabling it is not possible then I'm sure that I won't be the only person finding a new news source and home page.

  • Comment number 40.

    I embedded the old ticker at the top of some of the pages via an iFrame on our company intranet. It seems rather harder to do this with the new version. Will there be an option to do this or do I have to find another ticker?

  • Comment number 41.

    Just another thought. The old ticker is still there at: but it isn't being updated any more. It's still showing stories from 10th March.

    Is there any chance you can continue to update it, then I can carry on as before. You could even give users the choice of whether to use the new version or the old one.

  • Comment number 42.

    Yay, the old ticker address is showing the new ticker.
    My desktop is happy again.


  • Comment number 43.

    I would like to repeat earlier requests for the ability to turn off this feature. I found the original ticker reasonably unobtrusive, but the new red "Breaking News" banner is very distracting.

    I don't actually need to know the latest news the moment it happens. I'd rather wait a few hours and then read a comprehensive, well-written report. The trend towards speed over accuracy or quality that has been seen on rolling TV news for some time has now spread to the website, and I don't like it.

  • Comment number 44.

    dross2 (43) - I think those of you who find a little red bar at the top of the page distracting will be hugely in the minority. Most people want things to be flagged better - which this has done.

    And surely it SHOULD be distracting! Isn't that the point?

    If you'd rather read a comprehensive well-written report, buy a newspaper and leave the rest of us to get on with the 21st century.

    I'd actually like to call for something more to distract these people... the Cheltenham Gold Cup has just had an amazing result - wouldn't it be great if this could appear in the ticker highlighted in BBC Sport yellow?

  • Comment number 45.

    Thanks from me too for linking the old ticker address to the new version. A few tweaks of my iFrame size and it's looking better than ever.

  • Comment number 46.

    One little quirk you may want to look into is that in an 800x30 iFrame, which is how I insert the ticker into my pages, Frefox displays the headlines all OK but it does not display the Navigation Icons on the Right Hand Side. The same page in IE6 shows the Navigation Icons.

  • Comment number 47.


    We are no asking for it to be removed, just a users defined option to disable it!

  • Comment number 48.

    Exactly; if you like it then good for you, but I don't and want the option of disabling it.

    Your Cheltenham Cup comment is a great example. I could not care less about the Cheltenham Cup if I tried, so why should I have to have a bright red or yellow box and moving text telling me about something I'm not interested in whilst I look for articles that I am interested in? I want to be my own judge of an article's importance.

  • Comment number 49.

    re 48 and others

    Quite frankly, what is the point of a ticker on a web page/site (were the news item can be found anyway and if it can't such scant information that can be fitted into a single line of text could cause panic [1]), it would be better if the BBC allowed this feature to be user disabled - using a persistent cookie [2] - and invested some time so that it could offer it as a desktop application were it's value would be far greater.

    Sorry but these news ticker are and have always been somewhat of a gimic.

    [1] take the recent 'school' bus crash, that got put up as BREAKING NEWS ticker but with no real information - result, every parent in the area probably started to panic

    [2] has anyone else noticed that the "Pause" button doesn't last past a page reload.

  • Comment number 50.

    Any chance of removing that 1 pixel dark red line at the top of the ticker from the version at ?

    It looks odd unless you're using the same colour scheme.

  • Comment number 51.

    This morning's "breaking news" is that Joseph Fritzl has arrived in court for the start of his trial. This is not newsworthy because there is nothing more to be said until the trial actually starts. It also isn't breaking news because the trial was scheduled weeks ago. The banner is just an irritation.

  • Comment number 52.


    I don't think that anyone is listening, typical of the "We know best" attitude that is all over the mass media these days, thus the dumbing down will continue because they are now believing their own spin and tabloid hype - that comedy spoof, 'BROKEN NEWS' had it about right.

    The way the media is all over the Joseph Fritzl trial has more in common with the old style 'Freak-show' than any else...

  • Comment number 53.

    The red flash is getting annoying.
    It came on to say a murder conviction was quashed.
    It then came on red to say he was '"ecstatic"' his conviction was quashed.
    I would have thought the big red "look at me!" banner would be reserved for the kind of thing that would cause a newsflash on BBC1/radio.

  • Comment number 54.

    Hi! Great ticker, but it uses about 50% cpu on my machine! OK, so it isn't a very powerful machine, but it is very very green!! Is there any chance of giving an option to switch the ticker off?

  • Comment number 55.

    Just noticed the new Products and Services icons at the bottom of the news pages.

    Since I complained about the previous batch a couple of times, it's only fair that I also post to tell you I think these are an improvement!

  • Comment number 56.

    As mentioned above, I embed the page at into an iFrame on a couple of my sites and this works well, but I've noticed that the news links open within the iFrame if anyone clicks on them. They previously opened in a new page or tab. Is there any chance of adding "target="_blank"" to your links so they open in a new window?

  • Comment number 57.

    Is it possible to turn the news ticker off completely? It causes regular, rapid CPU fluctuations up to 100% (Task Manager CPU Usage graph looks like a sawtooth) the system fans end up at top speed to cope with it-it has taken me ages to find out what was causing the problem, now I can replicate it easily by stopping and starting the ticker. I use the BBC News site as a home page (not for much longer)and it is really annoying to have to stop the ticker every time I open my browser(IE8 or Firefox-same problem)or return home. I'm using a Dell Precision mobile workstation so its no slouch.

  • Comment number 58.


    "It causes regular, rapid CPU fluctuations up to 100%"

    Totally agree, the ticker should now be an option, it's a resource hog.

  • Comment number 59.

    I think you are over-using the red shouty news ticker, as I suspected would happen (the same occurred when you opted to start using 'occasional' bigger pictures on the homepage for the 'occasional' big story)

    Currently, your ticker reads:

    [IN RED] THAILAND PROTESTS: Arrest warrants issued against ex-PM Thaksin and 13 other alleged protest leaders

    [IN RED] BREAKING NEWS: Father of man held in anti-terrorism operation in England says son no links to extremism

    [IN RED] BREAKING NEWS: Man jailed for nine years for contaminating food and wine with urine and faeces

    [NORMAL] LATEST: The European Commission starts legal action against the UK over ad service Phorm

    [NORMAL] LATEST: Damian McBride will not get any severance pay, says PM's official spokesman

    Steve and others... can we rest assured that you are aware of the potential danger in overusing these tools, that emphasis only works when emphasis isn't the norm, and that these things (bigger main story images and fades, red tickers) aren't just another example of the trend towards news presentation designed to appeal to the gut?

    Gut appeal is a staple of tabloid papers and tabloid websites like Sky News, but I would hate for the BBC News website to be pulled down to its level.

  • Comment number 60.

    #38 #46
    Minor niggle, the ticker pause etc buttons sometimes cover the ticker message.

    I guess you use the same headlines over many systems and maybe even over teletext etc but it would be nice to be able to read all of the ticker, rather than have it continue under the buttons and maybe off the screen.
    Are there any plans to improve this.

    I am using firefox 3.0.9 browser. This happens with ticker messages of length over about 80 characters. My browser window does show the full width of your news page. As a workaround I sometimes block the display of the button images so I can see more of the ticker.

  • Comment number 61.

    I think you are over-using the red shouty news ticker, as I suspected would happen (the same occurred when you opted to start using 'occasional' bigger pictures on the homepage for the 'occasional' big story)

    I agree with these words

  • Comment number 62.

    Does anyone know why I get the error:

    ! An error has occurred in the script on this page
    Line 39
    Char 21
    Error Object required
    Code 0

    When I have on my active desktop? It pops up everytime the desktop refreshes and everything works normally after I hit OK or Cancel.

    Its only been doing it for the last few months.


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