Farewell then, BBCNews.com. As from today, the BBC News website no longer exists as an autonomous, editorial unit within the BBC.
Instead the BBC has created a multimedia newsroom, integrating output across TV, radio and online.
We have a new system that allows the great strengths of each of our editorial areas to create an even stronger editorial proposition.
Horrocks wants to know what you think, asking: “As a consumer of BBC News on the web, do you expect it to cover the same stories as BBC News on TV and radio?”
The problem is that this is the wrong question.
It seesm to suggest that the BBC considers the news site to be complementary to TV and radio, rather than a separate medium in its own right. It also put the onus for change on the site, rather than asking the more difficult question of how TV and radio news should change for a multiplatform world.
The website is the new kid on the block and doesn’t have the same internal political clout as TV or radio. But the issue isn’t whether the website should cover the same stories as TV and radio.
The issue is how BBC News should change across the board. In many ways, the website is leading the way, offering a much greater diversity of news, in greater depth and breadth, than the BBC’s traditional outlets.
The irony is that editors on the website have a much better understanding of audiences than on TV and radio, they have instant access to stats about who was reading what and for how long.
BBC News has much to learn from the experience of the website. The first step is to realise that online is a medium in its own right, equal to TV and radio. Simply taking what’s been on TV and putting it online does not work.
The question Horrocks should be asking is what do audiences want from their news and how do they want it.
UPDATE 13 November: Jeff Jarvis comments on the BBC’s moves towards integration: “Any news organization has to get to the point where there is no difference between old media people and new media people. That takes much training and more mixing of tribes than the end of a season on Survivor (but just as much loss and pain).”
And Roy Greenslade wades in on the challenge for journalists: “It is the positive ones, those who opt in, who will help to overcome the genuine problems thrown up by integration and consolidation. We have to be flexible. We have to innovate. We have to do what journalists have done for centuries: try harder.”