Category Archives: Journalism

Twitter, the BBC and fast news

Apparently Twitter is a popular source of breaking news.

When something happens whitenesses grab their phones and tweet.

Probably before they call 999.

As soon as the tweet is sent, it is live.

Viewable by anyone, anywhere in the world.

A few carefully placed hashtags and the tweet can cause quite the storm.

It is certainly a delicious prospect for news junkies everywhere.

Except there is one major flaw.

Trustworthy news sources and Twitter have one key difference: the editor.

When you buy a newspaper you hand over some money in exchange.

The money you hand over suggests that the newspaper has value.

The value can be found in the editor.

The role of the editor is to maintain standards, check accuracy and cherry-pick the news that is relevant to the audience.

Twitter on the other hand is unedited.

That means that there are no set standards, no checks of accuracy and no-one is cherry-picking the news that is relevant to the audience.

There are two depressing things that result from all of this:

1. For every accurate example of citizen reporting on Twitter there are hundreds (if not thousands) of inaccurate tweets.

2. Cunning PR professionals can very easily inject their own spin on an event in the name of diverting attention to their own agenda.

Both of these options are crap for the consumer.

That is why users follow the Twitter accounts of news organisations.

These news organisations ply their trade away from Twitter.

I like to think of their Twitter accounts as embassies in a chaotic foreign land.

The BBC Breaking News Twitter account has over 6 million followers.

That’s 6 million people who crave fast news that is accurate.

The fact that it is the BBC means that fast is not the emphasis.

Having spent some time in a BBC newsroom, one thing I learned was that the editor would rather hold-off on breaking a news item until they knew it was accurate.

The followers on Twitter know that.

They know that their news may be slightly slower, but it will be accurate.

The BBC will never specialise in fast news at the expense of accuracy.

Twitter does, and will continue to do the opposite.

Twitter is a popular source of breaking news.

It isn’t a popular source of accurate news.

*Update – 19/07/2013

The BBC has just published a piece on its new Breaking News Tool (BNT).

It is a tool that allows journalists to publish breaking news.

Note the fact that the BBC BNT is platform agnostic.

Also note that “the BNT [allows] journalists to publish a single accurate breaking news line”.

The word “accurate” is the key there.

Online Marketing and SEO for News Websites

Today I returned to WINOL to see the students put together their weekly news bulletin as well as speak to them about SEO.

A fantastic effort by all, the quality of the news and production values have come a very long way since I was at WINOL!

Below is a document that outlines the main points we discussed today after the bulletin (you can download a PDF document of this using the link at the bottom of the page).

My main takeaways from today and the things I would love to see on WINOL next time I come back are:

  • Use separate page titles and headlines – one rational (for the search engines) and one for the users.
  • Write meta descriptions – short synopsis of story that is designed to be displayed in the search engine results.
  • Use image ALT tags – this is the best way for search engines to understand what your photojournalism is all about!
  • All reporters should start building up their online profiles using Google+ and linking this up with the content that is produced on WINOL – see this link for more info on making this work effectively –
  • Work on getting the site indexed in Google News by following the guidelines in my document and then submitting a ‘news sitemap’ to Google.
  • Use website crawlers to check the website for errors (broken links etc) and fix as much as possible to maintain a level of quality on the site.

All information can be found here:

Download: Online Marketing for News Websites.

It was great chatting to you all today and if you have any questions about SEO and online marketing send me a tweet!