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BBC: Snel zeker, maar aan juist is meer behoefte

Amanda Goodman — Geplaatst in opinie op maandag 14 mei 2018, 10:15

Opinie Hoe gaat de BBC om met nieuws? Wil het de eerste zijn die iets brengt of vooral degene die het juist heeft? En wat doet een nieuwsorganisatie als de BBC met de duiding, de analyse, de achtergrond? Wie zit daar op te wachten en hoe trek je het jongeren naar je website? BBC-redacteur Amanda Goodman gaf woensdagavond de antwoorden tijdens het Grote Gala van de Media in de Stadsschouwburg in Amsterdam. Haar verhaal laat zien hoe de BBC nauwkeurigheid en diepgang verkiest boven snelheid.

Hieronder de uitgesproken tekst

Hello and thank you for inviting me to speak at this conference, and to visit you in the beautiful city of Amsterdam. I’m here to share what it’s like working at the BBC, in the beating heart of one of the biggest TV newsroom in the world. The BBC, where I have worked for more than 15 years, is a unique, brave brilliant, and infuriating beast of an organisation.

I know BBC One can be seen by many people in The Netherlands so you’ll know that news is only a part of what the BBC does – but it’s the part that the organisation stakes its reputation by. News makes us our friends and our enemies. Our unique selling point, or USP, is Trust. We aim to be impartial fair and accurate, to keep a cool head when all around us are losing theirs.

We use this big breaking news banner, as does almost every news channel you ever see.

It’s a kind of membership card for the world of live news. If you can show your breaking news credentials, you’re allowed to join the club – you can call yourself a news channel or a news site. The BBC has been a member of this club for almost a century. We can prove our credentials for breaking news, we are proud of our speed and our reach

Never wrong for long. One of our rivals has this reputation in the UK. Break first, be the first, the fastest. During the 1990s when TV news was king – everyone was trying to be a few minutes ahead of the pack. Now it only matters really to journalists in the newsroom. They have a quad on every desk, 4 screens monitoring their rivals. But of course real people aren’t flicking though the channels to see who’s broken the news first. – They’re too busy looking at their smartphone, getting updates, sharing.

Today you won’t get credit for being first, but you will get punished for being wrong

A few months ago we had a story breaking in our own backyard. The BBC is based in the heart of London, near Oxford Street for those of you have visited. Suddenly one quiet evening security guards were rushing round the building. There were rumours of a lock in. Then the phone started ringing, colleagues unable to get in the building, others unable to get out of the underground station at Oxford Circus, others who had popped out for a sandwich were caught up in panicking crowds sweeping down the streets.

Producers stuck on the street were offering Facebook lives, or radio 2 ways. Urgent wires started popping up on our computer screens, shots have been heard, there’s a gunman, two gunmen on the loose. Everyone is checking twitter, On the TV screens around the newsroom, other news channels spring into action, eyewitnesses who’ve seen the attackers, reporters caught up in the crowds, the news helicopters showing aerials of the panic. 

A pop star Olly Murs is hiding in a department store, Selfridges – live tweeting from the scene. Yet we at the BBC remain calm and report the little we do know with great restraint. Of course you won’t have heard about this story . This was a non story, fuelled by social media and a feeding news frenzy. Mass panic of perceived threat. A chain of events caused from a fairly unspectacular fight on the metro platform.

Back in the newsroom News editors who had called for a measured approach were congratulating themselves for holding back, but some younger journalists felt we failed to capture the mood of the story by holding back. They argued that’s why people come to traditional news outlets – for shared moments, for live events, to see and hear what’s happening in real time.

It’s nearly a year since a real nightmare on our doorstep – and a nightmare for Britain’s media who covered the bombing of Manchester Arena . In a shaming report the press was criticised for acting in an intrusive and overbearing manner. Families spoke of being hounded, photographers snapped relatives as they received bad news. A child was given condolences on the doorstep of her home about the death of her brother before being told officially. In another case, a mother – who was injured, as was her daughter – said the press was ringing her as she recovered in hospital..

So why was everyone in such a rush that they forgot basic rules of decency and privacy. And where do the BBC, and other trusted news organisations fit in?
In this social media age when people can get their news from eyewitnesses, from twitter, data shows us that people come to the BBC for confirmation. A story breaks, is shared, but when it really escalates – is when the BBC confirms it, and that confirmations is shared, and shared, and shared again.

So the emphasis on accuracy is more important than ever,

And there is plenty of evidence to show that people do come the BBC for breaking news, on TV, online, on radio, on social. People come to the BBC as a trusted news source, they come to us for verification because they trust us to get it right, to provide context analysis and breadth. Yes we can still be sharp, but we have to add value.
We live in a digital world of dizzying choices and unquestionable benefits. And a world of many dangers too. But rather than wish for a world which doesn’t exist, The BBC believes we have to engage enthusiastically with the world as it is. This means both re-committing ourselves to the editorial values with which our organisations were born, while also innovating and investing in new ways of getting our content to audiences.

We have to stay true to our USP and our brand. Fairness, accuracy, impartiality, independence. BBC journalism is famous for its ‘two source rule’ – nothing goes on air until we have two trusted sources. Editorial guidelines are core to BBC journalist training and practice. These run to more than 200 pages and are freely available online

Back in our headquarters in London – 6,000 BBC journalists and other staff - in a building we like to call the World’s Newsroom. Here, journalists from radio and television sit alongside their colleagues working on digital services. We have 43 language services broadcasting around the globe back to people in their own tongue - and providing their expertise to colleagues in London. 

A team of social media experts looking at material that comes into the building, from so called citizen journalists, or on social platforms . They are specialists weeding out information which isn’t true – for example, by using software which can spot whether a photo has been manipulated. And another team of people who are monitoring foreign media, reporting back to us what they are broadcasting or publishing.

Has the drive for speed been replaced by the need for authenticity, We think so.

You may know that the BBC is majority publicly funded by the licence fee, but outside of the UK our English language service is entirely commercial so we spend a lot of time and effort understanding our audiences and how our channel and site can help brands and advertisers to talk to them.

The perceived wisdom is that young audiences – and especially affluent millennials, the holy grail for advertisers - are turning their backs on ‘traditional’ news operators and getting all their news from social media.

But our research found this to be simply not true. When we spoke to over 14,000 ‘affluent millennials’ in 31 different countries, we found that they were much more likely to be getting their news from sources like the BBC or CNN than Buzzfeed or Twitter. And why? Because they told us that, above all, they valued editorial curation and trust – In other words they want the someone they can trust to tell them what is going on.

So, while news and media change at breath-taking speed, some things stay the same.

A couple of years ago a new boss at the BBC commissioned a massive project called the future of news. Amongst other things he concluded that while many organisations were busy running in one direction, others had spotted the appetite for analysis, digging deeper. For more than 20 years, he said, newsrooms have concentrated on making more – but the business of making more doesn’t work, the advertising model doesn’t support it, the customer doesn’t value it. If we want to do valuable journalism we need to do less, better. And so Slow News was born. So not slow news as in boring news, or a slow news day. But a space for reflection, going in deep.

Rethinking the role for serious news organisations to allow people to think and make up their own minds

Slow news – original investigations, thorough analysis, informed opinion –The BBC increasingly believes is what more and more people want. And a Reality check brand, the BBC’s own fake News buster, to dive deep into claims and counter claims and try and make sense of our ‘post truth’ world

So Fast, absolutely, news is about being fast, that is what we do every day. Faster - yes, the world and technology has enabled us to break stories faster and report them faster, But Fastest? We’d rather be right.

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