BBC BLOGS - The Editors

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.

Fine tuning

Sam Taylor | 17:03 UK time, Monday, 22 January 2007

Usually they ask you just to change one thing at once - this time they wanted to go further. News 24 and World were getting a new system to play out their on-screen straps and captions - so why don't we also change how they look, sound and behave? And while we're at it, what about new titles and whole new look for all our other graphics as well?

BBC News 24 logoIt's been months in the making, so you can imagine the relief at 0500 this morning and again at 0830, when we finally saw both a new on-screen look and a brand new technical system working happily on both BBC World and News 24.

Every channel wants to regularly refresh the way it looks on screen - TV graphic styles go out of fashion quickly - but this time we wanted a classic look: more room on screen for the pictures, fewer things getting in the way, and a clean, crisp style that ties in with the red and white of the set. We also had the chance to use new technology to introduce moving backgrounds to our breaking news straps, and new 3D icons for reporters who are joining us by videophone or webcam.

A team of graphic designers have been working on the new look for months, while another group of experts paved the way to introduce the playout system. My job's been to feed in requests from the channel teams - and as the deadline approached, to make sure everyone knows what's about to happen.

n24-graphics.jpgOf course you can't plan for everything, so it was great to launch News 24's new five-digit text number (61124) on the same day. We got plenty of feedback within minutes - much of it very positive about the way things look. However, we also got plenty of people saying the live 'bug' and the location strap at the top left of screen couldn't be seen fully on their TV. It looks like in our quest to maximise the amount of space on screen we've gone a little too far 'north', and we'll make some adjustments over the next couple of days to bring it back into view.

Moving the clock out to the left though was a conscious decision - most viewers have the option to watch News 24 in widescreen, even on a conventional 4:3 television (by selecting 16:9 on their Freeview or satellite box setup), and we wanted to use all the available space so it's easier to read the ticker. But rest assured, we'll be watching the feedback and reaction very closely - just as our viewers have been watching extremely closely today.

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