Monday, June 6, 2016

Loosen up

If you're worried about the Future of News, then this won't make you any happier. People in BBC News are working hard at something they call Structured Journalism. They think it's a waste of journalists' time, nay downright inefficient, when whole stories are written from scratch, because the day's news has produced one new element.  Let the computer, with linked data, produce the background.

And it is possible: you could analyse, say, a general election as chunks of news made up of campaign events; people saying things at news conferences; and the results. A visit to a factory by a leading politician may fit as both of the first two, but probably ought to be linked to the history of the factory, and its industry sector. Then, stuff written and recorded about the event can be dragged into the background of new stories when they occur - or, as the BBC News Labs prefer, Storylines. Here's a graph I don't understand.

I'm sure it makes sense to someone. I just hope we're not spending too much money on it. Even if BBC News is halved in headcount, and some of them are off shift, there's enough people to write and produce more stories than really matter in all but hyper-local terms, on a daily basis. And proper context - how the day's story fits with the rest of the day's news and what's happened in the past - needs to be provided by experienced people who care, not machines.

8pm Monday update: Taken from Tweets by Paul Rissen, Senior Data Architect at the BBC, working on the Research & Education Space project.

1: Yes, that diagram is rather complicated. More than happy to contribute to something friendlier, I agree it should be done.

2: The whole point of structured journalism is that it’s *not* the machines who are providing context. Humans are doing that. Journalists know the stories best. But we want them to treat machines as audience as much as anyone else. By doing that, we believe you reach audiences far wider than that of the traditional site or coverage. and the links are then in place for journalists to make connections to reveal longer term trends/patterns etc.

Most important thing is that this is *not* about replacing journalists w/ machines. It’s *for* journalists, working with them.

1 comment:

  1. Methinks this is aTopic Map (so beloved of The Suits at the moment) rather than A Graph. Sorry to be so pedantic. Remember when Petals used to be the Beeb Thing?


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