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.