Association of online publishers Helping media owners build better digital business

Clifton on BBC’s Web 2.0 plans

Download Pete Clifton's presentation - AOP members only.Download Type: pdf
Download Size: 4121k

Addressing more than 170 delegates at ‘Tomorrow’s web’, the PPAi/AOP conference on 3 May, Pete Clifton, head of BBC News Interactive, outlined the ways in which the site is responding to Web 2.0 by meeting the demand for more user participation and user-created content.

“Gone are the days when our users would sit back and absorb what we have on our site; they want to hold us to account, not sit back and accept the BBC as fount of all knowledge;” he explained.

“But they do look to us as providers of quality journalism, a trusted source, and that won’t change in this new age of Web 2.0.”

Delegates at the conferencePersonalisation will feature on the site for first time this year, in the form of ‘Your BBC News’. Clifton sees this as a way of bringing more local content to the fore, and giving users some ownership of the homepage. The personal touch won’t be to everyone’s taste though – and those that don’t want it don’t have to see it.

“Many of our users are not interested in personalisation,” Clifton conceded, quoting an email from one user pleading: “Don’t change anything! ... Please get rid of all the pages of debate, I’m not interested in what other people think!”

Perhaps the most interesting of the BBC News site’s responses to Web 2.0 is the focus on RSS. Searchable RSS is preference-driven and customised, and at the development community is able to build what they want using all the BBC content feeds, for example one person likes to filter their news stories into ‘good news’ and ‘bad news’ using search terms.

Over the course of the year the BBC News site will showcase the most popular video highlights, as well as a live feed from BBC News 24, and user ranking of news stories based on those most read and most emailed. What Clifton described as “a bit of an anorak’s delight” will he hopes also offer a compelling proposition for users as they are given more real time control and more functionality.

BBC will also launch a desktop ticker – running along at bottom of the desktop, users will be able to choose the index they want.

“Plenty has been said about the dangers of user generated content,” explained Clifton [in terms of trustworthiness and the temptation to rely too heavily on it], “But I firmly believe it presents no threat to our journalism; it complements it and improves it on daily basis. Someone somewhere will know more about the story than we do. It’s vital that we hold our nerve. I want our site to be generally more aware of blogs, and our journalists to use them as a research tool.”

Clifton accepts the organisation’s privileged position as a license-fee funded body, but argued that all news organisations should be encouraging more user participation with their content; “We are fortunate to have willing and engaged audience but every news organisation should be doing this.”

BBC News teams verify the information as it comes in, and respond to people. “When they’re sure it’s accurate, they share it as quickly and widely they as can.”

Download Pete Clifton's presentation - AOP members only.Download Type: pdf
Download Size: 4121k

Join the AOP group on LinkedIn - open for all Members to join
Subscribe to AOP's e-newsletter.