New v Old, #socialmediaweek London and the BBC #smwldn

10 Feb

There was a telling point in Social Media Week London when Roger Mosey, the man delivering 2012 for the BBC, was asked does it infuriate you that Twitter can sometimes break stories before you get a chance?

The answer is almost irrelevant . It’s the fact that it was asked that shows just how much social media has come to impact on the lives of journalists.

The panel at the Social Media and Sport event was for us here at Jibba Jabba one of the highlights of the week, giving a real insight into how social media can, and is , being used by the likes of the big clubs Chelsea and Arsenal, delivering news to organisations like the BBC and most importantly disseminating that news to you and me.

But while all eyes were focused on the gathering in central London, a real example of how the Beeb and Social Media have collaborated was happening just up the road at Broadcasting House, or more specifically the Egton wing, home to BBC London.

For the past couple of years, under the leadership of New Media Editor Claire Timms, BBC London has been forging a way in the world of Social Media at the BBC and beyond. Some argue the station representing the capital city on radio, on tv and online can easily make a surge forward with their inevitable extra funding, but a quick chat to Claire suggests not. What they’ve built is a mini social media empire using the expertise of their existing journalists, to create all-singing, all-dancing tri-mediad-up athletes.

It’s 9pm and Claire’s had the call from back at base. Adrian Warner, BBC London’s Olympic Correspondent, has been tipped off that West Ham have been given the nod to takeover the Olympic stadium. With Tottenham, and Leyton Orient two big London clubs with an equally vested interest in where the stadium goes, this is a big story for the capital. So how to handle it?

” Five years ago the BBC would never have broken a story on social media or the web” says Claire . “TV or Radio would have broken the story first, we were separate silos , but now what traditionally would have been separate has joined up to integrate the newsroom and a large part of that is thanks to new media . ”

With the call from Adrian (himself a Blogger for the BBC) the decision was taken to simultaneously break the story, teasing on Twitter and Facebook that a “major West Ham exclusive” was about to appear, and directing people to the BBC London homepage. This together with the release of article, blog and then TV and Radio content meant, as Claire puts it “wherever you are and whatever you are doing you are not at a disadvantage, you can consume and feel part of our coverage.”

In this instance this was all the more important. Broken at 10pm, there was little chance for fans to hear from their clubs, MPs, Olympic Ministers (all have had a say in the debate of where the stadium goes) but through social media they could talk together, debate together and have subsequently made their feelings known.

“Social media enables us at the BBC to have that direct conversation with our audience, within no time at all we had 120,000 hits to the online article,  over 60,000 people had read our tweets, and in the first half hour alone 40 people had responded to Adrian’s blog . ”

And this is not the first or last time BBC London’s new media team has proved itself, with innovative crowd maps during tube strikes and online and on mobile streaming of big London events.

So there’s no doubting socia l, or rather new media , is and will continue to be a great tool for reacting to the BBC’s stories, but as the original questioner at Social Media Week London asks “does it annoy you twitter can often break stories?”

In this case, BBC London and Adrian Warner had an exclusive which played into the hands of social media, and that is where Claire believes the value to media organisations lie.

“It’s an old newspaper adage, but content is king and that still stands – as relevant today as it has always been, but what social media affords you is a way of getting that content out to people quickly and in large numbers, it’s like the transition from a letter to email . ”

But there are the challenges too : ” W e have to make sure we’re using it in the proper context and responsibly, after all we’re still broadcasting and we have to ensure we adhere to the same standards as we have always done – impartiality and accuracy.” A nd possibly that’s the biggest telling reminder to come out of this week.

For us here at Jibba Jabba towers Social Media Week London has been a real eye-opener. Yes we’ve been impressed by the new shiny toys, by the liberation of people’s voices as they realise the ability to use these tools to broadcast yourself. But with the rows and rows of journalists present we’ve also been aware of that same old adage, content is king, if you have a story someone will want it and someone else will want to read it, the people you always come back to time and time again though are the ones you trust, and that’s no different to old media.

And with that the last word to Claire : “New Media has helped bring a once separated newsroom together and create a co-ordinated approach – it’s made our audience social, but us also, which can only be a good thing.

We’re now a 24 hour operation going out the door, but also coming in too, we’re having to watch and be watched, so now more than ever, content and our stories have to stand-up and be counted.”

So as no doubt Claire and her team go off to start off a new trending topic (#westham was still going strong at last count) we’re happy to report Social Media may be new for some now and there’s no doubt every journalist and organisation should be embracing it from top to bottom, but, somewhat like the old pen and paper we still love to doodle on, it’s reassuring to know the old values will always stand firm, no matter how they’re #broadcast !

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