Bigger, faster and more personalised – that’s the direction the BBC news website is travelling in according to head of editorial development and multimedia journalism Pete Clifton.
Addressing students and academics at Salford University this afternoon, Mr Clifton gave a presentation to demonstrate what’s in store for online users – and for media jobseekers in the region.
He said that journalists being recruited in the future would all need to have online skills as well one other specialism, but he thought that would not seem unexpected for graduates from courses such as Salford’s journalism course.
And he said the move north would undoubtedly open new job opportunities for journalists in the region.
“The MediaCity expectation is that we will be able to work across more platforms. Online skills will be the other skill that everybody has to have,” he said.
Users of the website can expect more of social media feel to the site in the coming months. A project called Identity will open up the possibility of a passport-type registration which allows users to travel into different services and another called Spaces, which will give users their own pages.
But he assured the audience that the BBC would not become another Facebook. He said: “We want to make the site feel more social, make the activity of others obvious. We won’t be turning ourselves into a social media site, but giving more of a feel as to what others are doing on the site.”
And the site will continue to be underpinned by an improved breaking news service.
He said: “A lot of audience testing came out with the updating of stories being an issue.
“A fundamental of a successful news site is how we deal with breaking news. It has to be at the very forefront of that. They have to rely on you to do breaking news really well. Yes there’s all the polishing after that, contextualising and analysis but you have to put up the stories quickly.”
The site redesign will make it more obvious to users which stories have been updated and when, even if the running order of the pages has remained constant for an hour or so.
Some of the other developments coming up in the next year for the BBC sites include;
* Bigger video players and more profile on the front pages.
* Larger pictures and galleries which are navigated by thumbnail pictures to encourage users to stick around on the site.
* A new look for the local site which is currently being tried out in Norwich and aims to hold the news elements and local sites together better.
* Moving the management of the mobile sites into main news CMS to make uploading quicker.
* After the success of bloggers such as Robert Peston and Nick Robinson, the blogs are being redesigned, they are wider templates and we’ve learned a lot about how effective they can be about telling stories and letting people know what’s going on.
* Taking inspiration from the work carried out by the meta data team at the New York Times, BBC journalists will be expected to start putting more meta data tags around our stories. “When you start to do that you can start to do many more things automatically than we can at the moment,” said Mr Clifton.
It sounds like an ambitious lists of developments and one which has an ethos running under it which will encourage consumption of content in places other than the website – expect widgets, sharing options and embeddable video.