Social media at the BBC

bbcThe Beeb is to have its first social media editor. Alex Gubbay, who is currently Interactive Sports News Editor for BBC Sport, has been appointed to lead editorial development of user-generated content and social media initiatives across the newsroom from next year.

The job will involve co-ordinating the work of correspondents and reporters who use social media tools, and help develop new ways for audiences to have their say on stories being covered by BBC News.

My first thought about this announcement was, Why doesn’t the BBC already have a social media editor? It’s not just that it already has a big online presence, and advertises links on many of its programmes. Audience participation has been going on for years, and, in a way, television has been a precursor of the online social media revolution.

Members of the public are involved in quiz shows, reality programmes, and so on, and the barriers between programme makers and audience have long been blurred, just as is starting to happen between companies and consumers. A programme like Autumnwatch, for instance, largely depends on viewer input.

But this has also been an organic, informal process. It has been driven by the development of technology that enables audiences to contribute to news, by sending in photos, video clips, comments and eyewitness accounts. This appointment takes the process a step further by overseeing all this activity and ensuring that all the opportunities are being exploited.

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