All 3 entries tagged BBC News

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January 25, 2007

Huw says political 'argy bargy' is a gigantic switchoff

I’ve just met Professor1 Huw Edwards (right). Lovely man. But he’s worried.

The audience is changing. We need to know what the audience thinks and why they may or may not be watching.

Because while big news stories like the Suffolk Murders get big ratings (the same audience as big stories got in the 1980s), there’s been a large general decline in TV News watching.

Huw Edwards, speaking at Cardiff Journalism School, 25th January 2007Since 2001 there’s been a drop of 16% in the number of 16-34 year olds watching BBC News bulletins. It’s been worse on other channels and no, they haven’t all been going online.

By 2012, if current trends continue, only around two-thirds of the UK will see any BBC News. It’s currently over 80% each week.

Huw’s worried because the licence fee – which pays his wages – depends on the BBC being seen by as many people who pay for it as possible. If they stop watching, people will wonder what they’re paying for.

Another worry – for politicians, and for me as a budding political journalist – is that the public are fed up with what Huw called “political argy-bargy”. It’s a “gigantic switchoff”. And yet that’s what political reporting seems to have become. Because we care about ‘human interest’ stories. So Gordon Brown’s home life is more interesting than his five economic tests. And yet we hate seeing stories about him and Blair having a tussle. Hmm…

Audiences are fickle. And so Huw’s message was that if you watch the news and think “Why are they doing that!?”, then the answer is that it’s because – often – that’s how you want it. Their very expensive research says so.

Listen to some of what Huw had to say (1m10):

1 Professor? Yup, that’s right. He was in Cardiff to give his inaugural lecture as a Professor in the Journalism School.

January 13, 2007

Hamsters. An Alarming Trend.

There’s a website tracking the frequency of hamster-related stories on BBC News Online. Apparently there are more and more every year. This amused me greatly.

November 16, 2006

*BBC embracing the world wide web

The BBC has been online for over nine years, but only now is it about to join the World Wide Web.

Pete Clifton, head of BBC News InteractiveYou might think I sound slightly mad, but this is basically the point that the head of BBC News Interactive Pete Clifton made today when he spoke to students in Cardiff.

You see, while the Beeb’s news website – imho the best website in existence – has very much been part of the internet, Mr Clifton and his team are hoping to reconnect the site with the ‘web’ through aggregation, wikis, APIs and better use of blogging, vodcasts ( such as the superb STORYFix ) and video.

What does this mean?

It means you’ll be able to use BBC content on your own blog or your website, whether that’s a text story, video (embedded onto your page like a YouTube video), graphic or interactive guide. It means you’ll find more BBC content on places like iTunes and the like. And it means on the BBC website you’ll find far more links to other websites, in recognition of the fact that other people can do many things better.

One example of this is the BBC’s Country Profiles – such as this one – which will continue to have some static information provided by the BBC, but will increasingly have content from further afield, such as a list of the latest stories from Argentina created by other news providers, as well as the latest news in video from the country. What’s most exciting is that this model is likely to be used elsewhere on, and we saw some very impressive examples.

Other interesting parts of the talk were about how far the Beeb’s blogging might go (not very, says Pete), and his views on the BBC iPlayer, due out next April (not very useful for BBC News).

But as an aspiring journalist, the best part of the talk was on how people should apply for a job. Pete Clifton’s mantra was:

If they can’t spell they can f**k off basically.

Good point, well made.

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