I’ve had little time to mull over the implications of the announcement that the BBC is to share its video content with Daily Mail & General Trust, Guardian News & Media, Telegraph Media Group and Independent News & Media. Yet, in the moments when I have, I have this nagging worry that it is not a good sign.
I can completely see the benefits: additional video content that can really enrich a story, but at no real cost to the newspaper groups involved. Plus, if you’re getting BBC content on your favourite newspaper website, perhaps you might switch your homepage allegiance.
The one thing that has personally been bugging me is that the owners of the Daily Mail, The Guardian, The Telegraph and The Independent all decided that BBC content would sit well alongside their stories.
This suggests that they thought it likely that they would be covering enough of the same stories as the BBC, and doing so with a tone and style that was unlikely to clash.
So a BBC video would sit as well next to a Daily Mail article as it would a Guardian article? When the unique selling points of a newspaper are supposedly its focus, editorial tone and world view, that seems surprising.
I guess you could argue that it is a testament to the BBC’s objectivity and that each newspaper group will have different priorities: selecting video for different stories.
But I can’t get yesterday’s quote from Vivian Schiller, CEO of NPR in the US, that “news is a commodity” out of my head.
I’ve got this horrible feeling that the BBC deal proves that many articles produced by newspapers provide little or no uniqueness to help distinguish them in a flooded market.
Whilst pondering the email from the Telegraph employee that was published this week by Roy Greenslade (give me another day and I might have a respond to it!), a few questions came up.
I haven’t built on them, but I thought I’d list them here to get them temporarily out of the way whilst the other blog post is percolating in my head.
At any newspaper I’ve ever had experience at, one of the daily chores is to read through all the other newspapers published that day to check for good stories to follow up on. If you are a regional paper this means looking out for stories in your region and if you are on a national it’s looking for good follow-ups broken by the regionals.
If someone finds a good story they’ll put in a few calls and see if they can confirm or develop it for their publication the next day.
Isn’t this the aggregation we talk about – putting the best of what’s out there onto our own site? How does this differ from scouring blogs for stories? Is it because they are not consider “official” publications and, therefore, more likely to contain false leads or misinformation? If so how are the skewed stories that turn up in the national red-tops better than the skewed stories on a blog?
Also if we fear the media is going to turn into simple speculation and opinion, how do we justify the speculation and opinion that already exists in newspapers? Is it at a satisfactory level now, whereas the inclusion of a few extra blogs on a website might tumble it over the edge? How do we justify the stories that come out of the football transfer season, or the swathes of business and stock market speculation that seem to be produced at the weekend when the markets are closed?
Also, if newspapers are using blogs to try and host some of the conversation about their stories on their site, why is that affecting the original content? Is it the time factor it takes to write a blog? Does it really detract that much time from the act of story-writing?
Sorry, lots of questions, not many answers. That seems to be how things are at the moment.