BBC Open Source and Vice Media: emphasis on Open Source

TL;DR: Publishers are now newswires and it’s always all about the user. UX For the Win!

On this distressingly cold morning, armed with coffee and my laptop checking the news via twitter, I spotted this tweet from @BBCOS, retweeted by @BBCNews

BBC Open Source Tweeting About Vice's Content
BBC Open Source Tweeting About Vice’s Content

This to me is fascinating and plain cool: the BBC is possibly the most trusted news brand in the world, especially in the UK, the land from which I hail. I’m so impressed that they are still innovating and trying new things. And this, this open sourcing habit of news-gathering, from Vice Media, is clever. The BBC has a large pool of journalists already, but they have recognised that harnessing other people’s content and promoting it increases their pipeline of coverage which, in turn, means a broader swathe of news events are covered by diverse sources, which leads to more comprehensive coverage which then translates, ultimately, to a better experience for the user.

I first heard about this concept during a Future of Storytelling Hangout earlier this year. Tim Pool of Vice Magazine, the videographer who livestreamed events from Occupy Wall Street to such acclaim, spoke about the opportunity for citizen journalists now.
The upshot was that anyone with a phone can ‘report’ to a major news outlet, even the massive ones. It also suggests that all publishers are now news wires too, which is interesting as some of the news wires move into the digital publishing realm too. I wonder what this will mean for duplicate content? The BBC Open Source tweet links to a BBC page that redirects to Vice’s site, so they are not serving the content, this isn’t aggregation. The BBC in this instance is referring traffic to Vice. Perhaps that’s the direction of travel? We’re all in it together so if everyone does the same it will work nicely and still, again, and this is critical, be useful for the users.

Steve Grove, of Google+, also a part of the Future of Storytelling Hangout raised the interesting point that whilst once derided, citizen journalists can use livestreaming technology to validate their stories, which in turn makes it easier for the news outlets to trust the content. Grove gave an example of the sort of problems that arose before livestreaming was routinely available, citing video footage that was filmed, edited, archived and then uploaded to YouTube or similar. His point is that videos like that are hard to authenticate, a protest in Syria, could look awfully like a protest in Lebanon and it’s hard to prove one way or the other. Now however with livestreaming, videos can be cross-referenced with other media sources so it’s much easier to get an idea of a situation.

The upshot of all of this just makes me happy about humanity: fortress journalism is over, now everyone can contribute. I’m just pleased that big old corporations such as the beloved BBC are happy to trial these new developments too.

Oh, people who have interesting ideas on these things:
Tim Poole
Steve Grove
Amy O’Leary

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