The more interesting of the sessions at the BBC’s Future of Journalism conference came on the second day.
Head of BBC Newsroom Peter Horrocks spent most of his session fielding questions from employees concerned about how their particular corner of the corporation would be affected by multimedia newsrooms. That aside, general themes from his presentation and responses to questions included:
- a need for a broader range of skills, such as information design and software development
- While strong single-platform performers will be encouraged to continue doing well on that platform, everyone else will be encouraged to work across platforms
- a need to reach audiences the BBC (and other news organisations) are struggling to engage with, particularly young C2 audiences
User generated content
The second panel, on user generated content, was probably the most interesting of the two days – mainly because it was also the most diverse, including Sky’s Simon Bucks and Paul Hambleton from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation alongside BBC Sport Online’s Claire Stocks, Matthew Eltringham from the BBC’s UGC hub, and Chris Russell from Future Media and Technology.
Claire Stocks presented a ‘before and after’ view of UGC on the BBC Sport site, and noted how popular the banter was proving as part of live text commentary (which is itself hugely popular). There was now greater integration of video but she felt they could present the information better.
Chris Russell showed a rather nice visualisation of a UGC ‘continuum’ which highlighted where the BBC was doing a lot (comments, on demand) and where they were doing too little (voting, tagging and ‘collective experience’).
Simon Bucks and Matthew Eltringham both showed the importance of UGC in generating leads. When Somali pirates seized the Sirius Star, for example, UGC led to the BBC finding out the name of a crew member, his friends and details of his family. Comments on the Sky website, meanwhile, led to an expert writing a blog post about the Star. It was also comments on a Sky web chat that led to journalists reporting on the story of a couple divorcing in Second Life.
An injection of reality was provided by Paul Hambleton, however, who presented research which showed journalists’ expectations of news consumption moving from television and print to web and mobile were vastly different from consumers’ expectations of their own behaviour (while 96% of journalists thought viewers would read more online, around two thirds of viewers felt their behaviour would change in this way). There was a similar disparity between the value consumers placed on categories such as user generated content and investigative journalism, and the value journalists placed on the same (generally higher).
I’ll try to post some reflections from the rest of the day – particularly the data driven journalism sessions I was involved in – at a later point. If you attended the conference or watched the live intranet stream, let me know what you took from it.