Technology Thoughts

Editors vs Readers at the BBC

How in touch are the BBC with the readers of their news website?

Chris Riley has created a clever site that compares the current stories on the BBC News front page against the most popular stories on it.

It is an interesting exercise in analysing the dynamic between readers and editors. Should BBC News – as a publicly funded service – give us the stories the readers want? After all, they do pay for it. Or would that lead to a glut of stories about celebrity weddings and weaken their core strengths as a broadcaster that can operate outside commercial pressures?

Perhaps they should go down the Digg route and get users in the UK (those who pay the licence fee) to vote on stories. You could then have an option to view the conventional news page or the one with the most popular stories as voted by users. It would be similar to the way you can chose to select a UK or an International version on the current site. 

Not only would it be an interesting snapshot of what BBC editors and readers think but it would involve licence fee payers in a way that isn’t really possible on TV or radio. That is going to be crucial for the BBC in a future where a tax on televisions will surely be untenable (not to say downright anachronistic).

If it is to survive, as well as thrive, in the future (and let’s hope it does – preferably with less bureaucracy) then it has to use its audience as well as serve it. Director General Mark Thompson has spoken about the need to innovate and adapt to the world of Web 2.0, so why not involve audiences in their output?

Closer to home, why not make BBC Film a more interactive and user friendly site? Why not allow users to comment on the reviews? And why not do a dedicated film podcast with their presenters like Mark Kermode and Jonathan Ross?

> BBC Touch
> BBC News
> Digg
The most popular stories on BBC News at the moment
> Thanks to Jeff Jarvis for the link to Chris Riley’s site