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back to article BBC Online ordered to be more 'distinctive' as cuts kick in

The BBC has agreed to make its web presence more “distinctive”, following the Corporation’s director-general Mark Thompson’s decision in July to scale back its online operation and cut the budget by a quarter. That’s the conclusion of the Beeb’s ‘Strategy Review’, which the BBC Trust published a final report on today. It said …

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In other words ...

Auntie Beeb is somewhat less relevant today than she was in the 1980s.

I'm not sure if that's more sad, or scary ...

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Welcome

So long BBC news then ... And good riddance!

"“For BBC Online, we expect to see an increase in quality scores, and improvement or closure of the sites that are not meeting audience expectations for quality,” said the trust."

Most BBC news articles are so poorly written without analysis or comments on the validity of the topics they could sometimes even pass for press releases for certain manufacturers.

I for one welcome a return to truly independent and thought provoking journalism rather than the collection of 5 second soundbites and diversions prevalent in the industry now.

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Unhappy

But...

That would require enough income to pay for people to write truly independant and thought provoking articles, which takes about fifty times longer per word than undigested rubbish...

And that in turn means a management/monitoing culture that values one page independant and thought provoking article over 50 articles of undigested rubbish...

And that probably requires a reading audience in which the vast majority are capable of telling the difference...

And that... probably ain't gonna happen!

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A modest (news) proposal

The BBC news bulletins are what they are, mainly because for years they've been more or less just rewrites of Reuters, AP and UPS newsflashes. In the early 80s a news item was considered true if more than one wire carried it: I kid you not. However, the current affairs programs on radio (Analysis, etc.) are often pretty good: I can't speak about TeeVee news because I don't watch it.

So what about News on the website? The last thing I want is repeats of the bulletins I've just heard on the radio or video clips off the telly news. Instead, I'd like to see the photo coverage that wasn't broadcast and a list of relevant URLs plus the scripts from File on Four, Analysis, etc.

Doing a proper job if this would make BBC Online distinctive since nobody else seems to do this well.

It would also be nice if more of the 'about to happen' stories on the Today program got after the fact coverage to say if they did in fact happen as predicted.

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Megaphone

I don't mind.

Really, I don't mind the BBC Online news website for news updates. I don't really want to be told how to think, so I skim for the published facts and make my own choices from there. Unfortunatly every news source has its own bias and perspective, but the beeb I find is less judgemental, shocked and outraged than many sources, so it'll do for me.

Plus, you can always use the Sky News service which seems to be inversely proportional in its perspective to Auntie Beeb.

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In other words...

... you are asking for substantial additional investment in BBC News Online.

Trebles all round!

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Coat

Screw "quality scores"

Is all news and entertainment purely statistical now? Axe a show -- however creative, original and artistic -- if it doesn't immediately meet a numerical viewer quota after two episodes, and replace it with something closer to the blurred nothingness of what a survey thinks the non-existent average person would like. Bands are done this way too now, voted in and voted out, keeping a "brand name" even when there are no original members left. It's all just meaningless and dehumanised, stifling experimentation. It's getting to be like the "prolefeed" entertainment turned out by machines in Nineteen Eighty-Four. Blah, IGMC.

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FAIL

Not so sure about BBC News...

BBC News is still a global white knight in terms of coverage and respectability. I'd rather be reading BBC News than any of the rags or stations owned by Murdoch, or ITV for that matter.

Where I do take issue with BBC News coverage is in that of sports journalism. There do seem to be just sooo many incidental pieces, by sooo many different people, all saying the same thing, or slight opinionated variations - where just one, which covers the event itself would suffice. This approach should drive up quality overall and reduce the cost of keeping all these "staffers" on board.

So BBC - just how many "correspondents" does it take to cover the Ashes?

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You've got a point

Although I've less of a problem with the Ashes stuff (only listen to summaries and occasionally read the Aggers stuff) than the plethora of opinion pieces that the BBC has spawned. The football pages are full of stuff that should be elsewhere preferably where I'll never come across it. As Andrew Orlowski has cogently argued the web 2.0 stuff recycles opinion and buries journalism in the "me too" mire. BBC Online has suffered visibly a result of trying to create online pundits to match the talking heads they can have on the news.

Commentary is very important but should be limited scope and not too frequent so the journalist has the time to filter and distil an issue. Compare the special interest columns and blogs of, say From Our Own Correspondent, with the inane gossip pages about football.

"Magazine" > /dev/null. If I ever want to read the Daily Mail please put a bullet in my head.

Stephanie Flanders > dole queue

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Anonymous Coward

Re: You've got a point

""Magazine" > /dev/null. If I ever want to read the Daily Mail please put a bullet in my head."

Although some of the magazine stuff is idle pontification, other articles allow a certain amount of dwelling on a subject that the usual conveyor belt of "shiny, look!" news that only ever gets referenced in a technical sense (in a list of links) in the future, never revisited or digested, will fail to do in any real sense. Thus, it fills a need if kept moderately focused.

"Compare the special interest columns and blogs of, say From Our Own Correspondent, with the inane gossip pages about football."

The correspondent stuff is what a lot of foreign people are talking about when they say they like the Beeb. If they had to watch domestic BBC drivel ("Be scared of teh t3rr0r, Britards! It's your fault, you know!"), they'd change their minds pretty quickly. And I don't mind stuff like the space sciences bloke giving a bit of depth to current events, with some perspective on who's doing what, asking a few questions that won't otherwise get aired. Part of the value one expects from outfits like the BBC is from the access their journalists have to various bigwigs and insiders. Arguably, the Beeb should be linking to that more prominently: there was that SpaceX mission recently and I didn't see any analysis (although I'm inclined to go and have a look now, actually).

As for the football gossip, it's all "pump and dump" from a surplus of pundits, and squabbling amongst a bunch of dullards who can't agree on a single member of the England team they would keep/drop, many of whom appearing unable not to terminate their transcribed-from-crayon outbursts with "COME ON ENGLAND!" as if it will help the performance of another British institution that arguably deserves even more aggressive funding cuts than the Beeb.

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Troll

3 is not the magic number.

Really, I can't see the point in BBC3. Other than Family Guy and Russell Howard's Good News (both which could easily find a home on BBC2), I watch no output on Three. Arn't the youff all outside drinking, smoking drugs and fighting rather than watching the TV anyway?

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BBC Four

What undermines BBC more than anything else is that any new content that proves popular will be repeated on BBC2 later. So nobody really cares is BBC4 exists since they know full well that anything worth watching will be repeated on BBC2. IOW BBC2 acts as a useful BBC4 filter.

If Aunty had any confidence in BBC4 they wouldn't carry on like this.

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Spelling?

Has anyone else noticed the terrible spelling and grammar of recent BBC news articles on their website? Not to mention that since the election it is hardly updated.

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Grrr

yes, and we have:

'appeal the decision' (grammatical error)

'find your representative' (constitutional error)

'more on this story' (a tragedy is only a 'story' to expensed journalists)

All I want is BBC headlines on Firefox, and Radio 3 with fewer smug music-over self-ads.

I'm told they do TV as well? Keep your movies off my screen-estate!

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Unhappy

I see that as a decline...

on every web site since the last couple of years. It's so easy to just type up a list of '10 things you did not know about <event>' or 'five reasons why <event> is [good/bad] for you'.

It seems no one is proof-reading anymore, the it's and its, they'res and theirs, would of / would haves are sprinkled on top of articles here and there...

Hey, maybe that's the sprinkling the Review was talking about?

Would give a more 'contemporary' spin on things, so to speak ;-)

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Ordered?

Is this some sort of order from some government appointee such as Martha Lane Fox?

If so, I dread to think what 'distinctive' means.

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WTF?

how about....

canning some of the regional initiatives?

(might sound a bit daily mail here, if i do i apologise)

the gaelic speaking channel for one, should not be funded by all of the license payers. why should welsh and english pay for channel they do not understand? i also remember hearing that more people speak hindu and polish in scotland than gaelic? its not like the language is widely spoken in scotland anyway. i know plenty of welsh and scottish people who havent got a clue about their languages. should they be forced to pay for channels they do not understand?

same with the welsh speaking channels. i have no issues with people in those countries speaking their native languages, but do not expect everyone to pay for it.

similarly with the asian network. there are plenty of asian language channels on freeview, why should anyone be funding a BBC version?

i know we live in a multicultural country, i embrace that. if enough people REALLY watch the welsh speaking channel then let it be advert funded (or even Pay per view), i can respect welsh speakers wanting to hear their language but should they really expect to be funded by everyone else? i am forced to pay for sky sports and espn to watch the football and i pay for dvd rentals to cater for my preferences in film.

i also think that bbc and four and two could merge a fair amount. its like the same amount of watchable programmes are on as 20+ years ago, spread over 4 channels. they seem to pump out the same sort of shite that itv2 and channel5 create to fill space. if you need to do that then dump one of the channels. they have hardly any decent sports, nothing in regards of film and rarely produce anything that i am interested in - apart from the excellent comedy like mock the week, QI, have i got news etc.

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FAIL

the new BBC news look sucks

sorry...but it now feels like Fox news or sky news. its crass and badly designed.

the old site wasnt perfect...but it did loo/feel different to other sites...was distinctive

and most importantly worked well in lots of browsers. i shiver at the number of references

to viewing on iphone or ipad that they keep stating - just give us proper HTML and let our devices

and browsers do their thing.

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