BBC original journalism comes to chat apps
Two years ago, we were the first news organisation to develop news accounts in chat apps - we have to continue to innovate on them. Trushar Barot, Mobile Editor, BBC World Service
As BBC World News marks 25 years of TV news broadcasting, the channel’s international current affairs programme Our World will use Viber to tell the story of a kidnapping that took place in Mexico, publishing posts via a BBC public channel within the app. It will be delivered to Viber users across a week, replicating the timeline of the original events as told by the victims. This will then be tied in with the television broadcast of the half-hour documentary Our World: Kidnapped In Mexico.
For their audiences on the continent and beyond, BBC Africa will be using WhatsApp to tell the story of young people in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) who are using new online ways to get their voices heard and bring change to their country. Across five days clips will be shared from its documentary Young, Angry And Connected.
The innovative pilot projects, which are set to start from this weekend, mark a significant step forward for the BBC’s use of instant messaging platforms. The broadcaster has been experimenting with chat apps in countries where mobile use outstrips desktop and to reach those people who would not necessarily access its journalism via traditional means. They were trialled as a way of gathering and sharing content during the 2014 Indian Elections and then again during the Ebola crisis, which saw thousands of people across West Africa signed up to receive the latest news and lifesaving information. But the use of the platforms to share content from its documentaries breaks new ground, helping to extend the life and reach of TV programmes.
Trushar Barot, Mobile Editor for BBC World Service, explains: “There are now more users of chat apps globally than there are people on social media. That’s why BBC World Service is focussed on experimenting and developing long-term strategies for these platforms. Using them is second nature to hundreds of millions of people around the world. These are the next generation of digital audiences we want to reach out to. Two years ago, we were the first news organisation to develop news accounts in chat apps, but we know we have to continue to innovate on them. Working with the likes of Viber to trial projects like this enables us learn quickly and deliver the types of digital content our audiences are going to increasingly expect.”
Our World: Kidnapped In Mexico on Viber – from 6 March (tbc)
For the first time a linear TV documentary about a real-life kidnapping case is being broken down and retold for users of a public channel on Viber. Users following the channel at www.viber.com/bbcstories will be able to follow the story of a kidnap victim and his wife told in text, images and animations, as if it were happening in real time. The posts will run across a week, around the broadcast of correspondent Vladimir Hernandez’s TV documentary on Friday, March 11.
Jo Mathys, of the BBC’s Impact team, who developed the chat apps project says: “What I find exciting about this project is the ability to tell a story as if in real time, and the sense of immediacy that chat app platforms provide. It’s as if the characters are talking directly to the audience. It’s a very different way of story-telling. There’s potential to tell a wide range of current affairs stories using this format.”
The full documentary, Our World: Kidnapped In Mexico, will be broadcast on BBC World News on Friday March 11th at 2030 GMT with repeats on Saturday March 12 at 1130, 1630 & 2230 GMT and on Sunday March 13th at 0330 & 1730 GMT.
Young, Angry And Connected on Whats app- from the 7 March
BBC Africa’s first ever WhatsApp series, Young, Angry And Connected will bring the story of young Africans using social media and their mobiles to get their voices heard, to an audience in a unique way. The series will launch on Monday, March 7 and run until Friday, March 11. A daily clip of around 2-3 minutes will be delivered to those who subscribe to the WhatsApp service number (+44 7734778817) and will be available in French and English. Once the number is added, users can write SIGN UP for English and SOUSCRIRE to receive editions in French. The documentary will then be available in full on BBC.com/Africa and www.bbcafrique.com at the end of the week.
WhatsApp is hugely popular in Africa, and a widely used app for people to communicate, including those involved in the story of Young, Angry And Connected. Many of those featured in the programme depend on WhatsApp to communicate to their peers across the country.
Vladimir Hernandez, Correspondent and Assistant Editor for World Service says: “The rising youth groups in Africa are mobile-first and bringing their story to a wider audience on a chat app is the perfect new way of telling their story”
A short preview trailer for Young, Angry And Connected is available to watch here: https://myshare.box.com/youngconnected
Notes to Editors
About Our World: Kidnapped In Mexico: Kidnapping in Mexico has reached epidemic levels across the country. It’s a crime that now affects not just the wealthy but also ordinary Mexicans. For Our World Vladimir Hernandez meets people rebuilding their lives after being held for ransom, and he meets a man who has made kidnapping his business. In a rare and chilling interview the kidnapper spells out what motivates him to abduct, and sometimes to kill innocent people. The documentary will be broadcast on BBC World News on Friday March 11th at 2030 GMT, on Saturday March 12 at 1130, 1630 and 2230 GMT and on Sunday March 13 at 0330 & 1730 GMT.
How to access Viber channel: The user experience on mobile will be to take people to the App Store if they click on www.viber.com/bbcstories but don't have Viber. If they do have Viber the app will open into the chat. On desktop all users will arrive at a web page with a QR code to download the mobile app and be encouraged to download the desktop app via a link.
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