Claire Wardle is one of the academic project partners from BBC Nations & Regions' collaboration with Cardiff University examining the way that the BBC uses user generated content. Below she shares her views on how she feels the research project went and her current attachment with the BBC's English Regions New Media team. A copy of the research paper Claire produced with her colleague Andrew Williams can be found here and Claire can be contacted via Cardiff University's website.
"In July 2007 I started running one of the AHRC/BBC projects. It was focused on User Generated Content in the news. I say focused but it felt quite the opposite. We were researching radio, television and online newsrooms across England and Wales, as well as Network newsrooms. We interviewed 115 journalists and 10 senior managers, undertook a nationally representative survey to find out who actually submits UGC, placed an online survey on the BBC website and organised and ran 12 focus groups to find out why people submit, but also the barriers which prevent others from contributing. It was a year-long project which produced a huge amount of data, and proved to be the first significant study of UGC at a broadcast organisation.
The report was finished in September and can be downloaded here.
That's when things got interesting. Disseminating research is always a significant challenge, but in an organisation the size of the BBC, even more tricky. So we arranged a 6 month secondment and I'm now based in Birmingham working with the English Regions New Media team.
This for me is what knowledge exchange is all about. I've been here 2 months so far and I've already had so many informal conversations with people from all over the BBC about the research, whether it's over coffee, or at after work drinks when someone says 'what do you do?' or being put in contact with someone through someone else.... I'm learning an enormous amount and hopefully my in-depth knowledge of the research is more useful than a 60 page report lying on a desk, marked 'to read'.
BBC Local is currently going through big changes. There is a roll-out of newly designed websites and I'm able to work with the team to find ways of managing UGC and making it easier for audiences to contact the newsrooms. Perhaps more importantly, I'm working on building 'community' on the local sites. Looking at excellent examples from the States particularly in terms of web 2.0 initiatives, I'm working with the team to see how we can build some new and exciting tools into the websites as they are rolled out. It's fascinating to be working in a new environment, but on a personal level, it feels such a luxury to be able to just spend time thinking, researching and attempting to make change come about. I'd recommend this way of exchanging knowledge over all others.