In a section on accountability, the Trust explores how the BBC’s commitment to “to forge a new relationship with licence fee payers” online and suggests that “recent developments, such as the development of BBC editors and management blogs, mean that the BBC may be able to fulfil this commitment much better in the future”.
What is startling is how the audiences for the BBC’s blogs have grown, with the Trust noting that “usage of the blogs now outstrips usage of the BBC’s corporate site and the Have Your Say message boards. In fact, usage of Have your Say message boards has been fairly static between 2006 and 2007″.
Audience research by the Trust (PDF) found that the BBC’s blogs are already highly appreciated, demonstrated through comments such as:
The Editors’ blog is a great way of developing a relationship between the BBC and viewers. It allows the editors to explain their decisions and viewers to give feedback, and thus allows a continuous dialogue between the BBC and its audience
These figures suggest that the informal, conversational tone of the blogs resonates with audiences. According to the BBC, 70 BBC News and BBC Sport editors made 500 posts and received over 30,000 comments from readers in response in 2006-2007.
BBC Management highlights (PDF) blogs as one of the ways the corporation is trying to create a conversation with audiences:
Editors’ blogs on the news site have rapidly grown to become a key point of engagement between the BBC’s journalists and its audiences. 1.5m user comments and posts are published on bbc.co.uk messageboards and blogs every month
While blogs are providing a new way for the BBC to reach out to audiences, there are limits to this conversation. The BBC itself and my research has found that editors on the whole tend to regard blogs as a publishing platform, rather than as a way of engaging with audiences.