How blogs became part of BBC News

The story of how blogging is changing journalism at the BBC is told in my research paper, The Blogging BBC: Journalism blogs at “the world’s most trusted news organisation”, published in the August edition of Journalism Practice.

In the paper, I outline how blogging went from being an activity by a handful of journalists to being adopted by some of the BBC’s biggest names, such as Business Editor Robert Peston, despite at times vehement opposition from within the corporation.

The blog format has been increasingly adopted by mainstream news organisations. The BBC presents a unique case study its established norms of impartiality and objectivity would appear to be undermined by the idea of blogs as uncensored, unmediated and uncontrolled.

Some commentators have even suggested that blogging “chips away at the corporation’s remit to be objective and neutral.”  However, the paper suggests how the BBC sought to tame blogging so as to incorporate it within its existing journalistic values.

BBC journalists mainly see blogs as a way to expand on stories they are working on for broadcast and write about news that is had to discuss on TV or radio in a more personal and conversational style.  But they still have to follow BBC guidelines on reporting, and not let their commitment to impartiality drop due to the informal nature of a blog.

In fact, BBC blogs are what researchers suggest are a new genre in institutionalised media journalism (PDF), where the author is more visible and the style is more personal.

However, the BBC has been less successful at incorporating what some argue is the defining feature of blogging – the conversational and social nature of the format. BBC news bloggers have struggled to engage in a conversation with readers, a shortcoming acknowledged by executives.

A pre-publication version of the paper is available for download.

9 Comments

  • jen says:

    Interesting finds here. I think it would be a mistake to make blogging the primary means of giving information on the bbc website, but it definitely makes a nice extra!

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