A few months ago I saw an early version of ITV News’ new website, and was pretty impressed. Now it’s finally live – and I’m still impressed.
Why? Because this doesn’t just fiddle around the edges like so many news website relaunches have done since 2007. This reinvents the whole thing – and the result is more like a social network or a blog than a newspaper front page. Continue reading →
When Laura Kuenssberg announced she was leaving the BBC for ITV, muchwasmade of what might happen to her Twitter account. Was @BBCLauraK owned by her employer? (After all, it was branded as such, promoted on TV, and tweets were ‘processed’ by BBC producers). Or should Laura be able to take it with her? (After all, it was Laura that people were following, rather than a generic BBC political news feed).
The implications for the ‘journalist as brand‘ meme were wellexploredtoo, while newly empowered journalists may have been concerned to read that companies are inserting social media clauses into contracts:
“To keep hold of the good will created by a brand personality. Recruiters, for example, are often required to hand over their LinkedIn accounts upon leaving, so their contacts remain with the employer.”
“When she had earlier tweeted the details of a new separate ITV account to her then 59,000 followers, only around 1,000 of them started following the new account.”
This sounds compelling until you remember that tweets are only seen for a relatively brief period of time by those followers who happen to be watching at that moment, and that a significant proportion of followers of celebrity/high profile accounts are likely to be idle or spam.
Still, it also highlights the fundamental weakness in all the debates about who ‘owns’ a Twitter account. One very important party is not being represented: the users.
Much of the commentary on Laura Kuenssberg’s move treated her 60,000 followers as an “audience”. But of course, they are not: they are users.
Some will be personal acquaintances; some will be fans of the BBC’s political coverage; and yes, some will be spam accounts or accounts set up by curious BBC viewers who forgot their password the next day. Some will follow her to ITV, some will follow her replacement at the BBC, and some never worked out how to click ‘unfollow’. (Kuenssberg’s successor - @BBCNormanS – had 5,824 followers after she tweeted a link, according to Paul Gregory, which means that only around 10% of her followers read either of those tweets and acted on them.)
Whether an employer claims ownership of a social media account or not, they cannot ‘own’ the relationship between users and that account. And there will be as many relationships as users. Some passive; some collaborative; some neglected; some exploitative.
It is those relationships that we should be concerned with developing, not the small print of an employee’s contract.
I’m always interested in the new jobs that are being created to deal with the rise of the web and social media. So when I had the opportunity I asked Ben Ayers, Social Media Manager for ITV.com, what his job involves. Here’s his reply:
“I manage social media for ITV.com but also oversee social media strategy for ITV as a whole, working closely with colleagues in marketing and sometimes third parties like agencies and production companies who create content for us.
“Over the last couple of years I have eased ITV towards a semi-coordinated social media strategy – both on and off ITV.com – developing communities and engagement around programme brands.
“This has worked really effectively for the likes of the X Factor and I’m A Celebrity and to some extent our ‘evergreen’ programmes like soaps and daytime shows This Morning and Loose Women. I also work with my editorial colleagues to try new ‘social’ features around programmes. Most recently I have been working with ITV news to make our election coverage as engaging as possible.
“Although I work within the ITV.com team, I also work closely with colleagues in marketing, PR and sales. I manage community on ITV.com and have been working on the implementation and adoption of a new community platform introduced at the end of last year. I also oversee moderation and chair the ITV digital group that includes colleagues from PR and marketing.
“I was a journalist on local newspapers in the South before going into PR, starting at Comic Relief. I have worked in communications at the BBC, Science Museum and more latterly ITV. I moved from programme publicity at ITV to manage PR for ITV’s website. It was from there that I moved into social media activity for the website. In the first year the focus was on traffic generation using social media channels but increasingly it’s about community and engagement.”
I also asked what were the 3 most important lessons he has learned in the job:
“The devil’s in the detail – although it can be a bore, reading the small print is actually very worthwhile
“Don’t be afraid to try new stuff – in the UK we are too hard on ‘failure’. There’s a different culture in other countries like the US and we can learn from that.
Has online journalism become ordinary? Are the approaches starting to standardise? Little has stood out in the online journalism coverage of this election – the innovation of previous years has been replaced by consolidation.
Here are a few observations on how the media approached their online coverage: Continue reading →
As part of a group response to the government‘sinquiry into the future of local and regional media, Adrian Monck looks at the implications of BBC partnerships with regional media. Blog comments will be submitted to the inquiry as well. If you wish to add a blog post to the submission please add a link to one of the OJB posts – a linkback will be added at the end.
A long time ago, I wrote the plan to run ITV News in London (replacing LNN), modelled on the operating structure for Five News. It involved reformatting shows and cutting staffing to the bare minimum required to get on air.
Nothing wrong with that. It was a more efficient use of resources.
But it wasn’t really designed to involve the process you and I would know asjournalism. It was intended to produce a happy simulation of a television news broadcast to a standard adequate enough to satisfy regulators.
Five News shared resources – as did the new ITV London when it started – with the rest of ITN. The biggest and most expensive of these resources were the satellite trucks and needless to say, the deployment of said trucks went to the people paying the most money - ITV’s national news and Channel 4 News.
The editorial decision-making process played second-fiddle to the negotiation and horse-trading around satellite dishes, technicians’ overtime and working hours without which stories and guests (even cheaper!) couldn’t make it on air. Continue reading →
Two approaches to reporting on war have crossed my virtual desk recently. First, a broadcast journalist at ITV News told me about their video blogs from Afghanistan – embedded below:
Second, Reuters send me a press release about ‘Bearing Witness, “a unique multimedia package and online documentary to mark 5 years of reporting war in Iraq”
Watch the video. Then, go to http://iraq.reuters.com/
ITV News are to “air citizen reporters’ videos”, according to The Guardian. ‘Uploaded’ (oh dear.) will “allow members of the public to post video clips on the Uploaded website via mobile phone or webcam, responding to a daily “debate of the day” set by ITV News.”
Yep, it’s the old ‘charitable gesture’ approach to citizen journalism. ITV choose the topic, choose the responses, and, by the sounds of things, even choose the correspondents (“a national network of citizen correspondents,” says the article, which also mentions 100 people who have “signed up”).
ITV news editor, Deborah Turness is quoted as saying: “news has remained a one-way street in a two-way world.” But the two-way system of ‘Uploaded’ has one very large lane for ITV, and one very narrow one for its audience.
“Sometimes the media is guilty of underestimating the audience,” she continues. “People do have really interesting and relevant things to say and Uploaded will give us real diversity of opinion and experience.”
“The Uploaded segment within the news bulletins is likely to be about 60 seconds.”
Ah, that diverse. Great. Another citizen journalism ghetto.
So here’s my suggestion: Stop recycling old formats for new media. Stop treating the audience’s contribution like an ‘And Finally’ section. Start understanding how interactivity works: it’s about giving control to the user. Giving control over subject matter. Giving control over time. Giving control over ranking. I’m not suggesting getting rid of editorial roles entirely, but if you’re going to do something like this, for God’s sake do it properly.
TV doesn’t know how to have a conversation. TV knows how to perform. The event’s moderator, CNN’s Anderson Cooper, behaved almost apologetically about the intrusion of these real people, who speak without benefit of make-up.
‘Uploaded’ is not citizen journalism. It’s a vox pops without having to pay professional camerapeople.
Ian Reeves’ second vlog builds on the quality of the first, inevitably moving from the general to the specific, with a fantastic dry sense of humour that makes it all very entertaining. His USP is his ability to capture online video and showcase it – this week it’s the Telegraph’s Business Report (boring but sells advertising), ITV’s surprisingly good online local TV offering, and the US web video awards (but is Being A Black Man video, or flash interactivity that happens to have video embedded?).
Congratulations Ian, your vlog is one of the few pieces of online video I thoroughly enjoy watching.