For the first of these guest lectures on Tuesday 14 October, we were joined by the BBC’s Head of Product for Online News and Weather Robin Pembrooke.
Pembrooke’s visit to LCC comes at an interesting and challenging time for the BBC. The corporation is attempting to advance its news content online, whilst also trying to strike a balance between appealing to consumers both young and old.
It was interesting to hear how the BBC was trying to appeal to the somewhat under-represented demographic of 16-24 year olds, regarding online news.
So how does the oldest and most recognisable broadcaster in the UK go about the digital transformation of its news content? The answer, according to Pembrooke, lies in a more personalised relationship between the news and the audience.
We were given an exciting sneak preview of the BBC’s brand new app, which would allow users to customise their own news content by choosing which areas they wanted their news from and which specific journalists they wanted to read content from.
With the app enabling the BBC to have an enhanced web presence, we were told that the launch of new digital programmes such as this did not come without its problems. It was interesting to find out that the average age of someone looking at the BBC’s homepage was 48.
Pembrooke informed us that most people of this age were very sceptical about any kind of change to an already successful online news platform. Any process that involved change of this nature would have to be a gradual process to keep consumers of all ages interested in the BBC’s news content.
For us aspiring journalists, it was intriguing to hear that the BBC was looking to allow its journalists to publish content on the go, without having to wait for the traditional news slots on television to broadcast the content first.
With the BBC’s tagging and curation now powering their storytelling, Pembrooke encouraged us to have a look at the BBC’s Chartbeat data-monitoring website.
This type of information wasn’t just for the “nerds” though. By monitoring what people were reading, Pembrooke told us that journalists would have a better understanding of what people were looking at regularly and therefore what people were more likely to view in the future.
As a final piece of advice, Pembrooke encouraged us to tweet and promote our own content effectively as in the case of Laura Kuenssberg.
Currently working for the BBC’s Newsnight programme, Kuenssberg is incredibly effective at promoting teaser content online, to get the public interested in what will be on the programme that night.
With many of us creating our own blogs and content throughout our studies, it was inspiring to hear how effectively promoting our own content could help us all up our profiles in a competitive journalistic environment.
Words by Dylan Taylor