Posts Tagged ‘james cridland’

Marc Canter: “Right Things” – Wrong Information

September 16, 2008

I noticed Marc Canter’s blog post “Getting the BBC to focus on the right things” on Saturday.

Marc seems a bit misinformed about the BBC.

Let’s take some of his statements in order:

“…if the BBC can get rid of Flash, let alone Silverlight and Quicktime…

I don’t think Erik Hugger’s original blog post said that the BBC was going to “get rid” of Flash. It simply said that the BBC was going to adopt some open standards like H.264 for its video and audio content on the web. 

“No one cares if YouTube uses Silverlight, Ogg or Flash.”

Well I may not care, and Marc may see this as an argument from 15 years ago but the BBC backstage mailing list still rages with this kind of argument regularly. Some people, perhaps a small number, care very much. My colleague at the BBC James Cridland has views on this.

As I am a layman not a technologist, I tend to agree with Marc.

Licence fee payers in general don’t care much about the technology that powers what they watch and listen. They just want it to work.

And this is a practical argument, not a moral one (my thanks to Simon Hopkins who first alerted my mind to this confusion around “moral” matters).

If all licence fee payers used closed systems then that’s what the BBC should use to deliver its content. If they all used open ones then that’s what the BBC should do. The actual situation is somewhere in the middle. It’s about tactics, not principle.

“what about OpenID, oAuth, OpenSocial and Portable Contacts? … perhaps this post will get you supporting OpenID…”

Marc seems unaware that the BBC joined the OpenID Foundation in April of this year. See this blog post from my boss the redoutable Jem Stone.

“The BBC is a government unit who have been charged with opening up – by law.  As government policy, and as one of the world’s leading media entities, it is your DUTY to open up,”

The BBC is not a “government unit”.

Editorially, strategically and in the way it’s regulated, the BBC is independent from the British government, and certainly doesn’t do things just because they are “government policy”.

As for “by law”, I’d be interested to know what law Marc is talking about. I’m unaware of any legislation that compells the BBC to be open with its’ data or its’ content.

And as for “duty”, see my point about morality above.

The BBC does want to be open. The BBC’s current director general Mark Thompson has said he wants the BBC to be more open in all aspects of what it does.

I like openness myself.

Some of the things that Marc wants are being looked at at the BBC by the teams in the Future Media & Technology department (he should read the BBC Radio Labs blog).

But life (and more to the point British media) is, I’m afraid, a little more complicated than perhaps everyone would like.

And as I’ve blogged before, it’s easy to talk about being open and a lot harder to actually do it.


Another Satisfied Customer

February 25, 2008

James Cridland once again shows his sterling qualities.

More Whys

February 12, 2008

Blackwater over at Roy Greenslade’s blog has disagreed with this previous post from me.

So I thought I would explain further.

1. Steve Rubell has a better idea of what’s going on in new media than the average journalist. Most importantly he understands the value of the link. There are still too many journalists who think a story ends when they publish it on the web and don’t bother to link. A story without links on the web is dead (see this). Bloggers always link, which gives them an advantage.

Steve Rubell has also said “transparency is critical”. This is an unusual thing for someone working in PR to say. How many journalists would be prepared to say it, not just about the subjects of their stories but their own working practices?

2. I don’t think “the pursuit of truth” is a bad thing. I think it’s a good thing. Working for the BBC I abide by the BBC’s values of impartiality.

But journalists need to come off their high horses and accept that they are not the only people with a committment to the truth.

Blackwater asks: “Do journalists and PR folk really inhabit the same moral sphere? I mean, traditionally or ideally, at least?”

Traditionally they don’t. But the internet is changing all that. Ideally, they should. Indeed this may become essential.

I trust Steve Rubell even though he works in PR. I trust James Cridland and Hilary Perkins – not journalists, bloggers. I trust Jemima Kiss and Nick Robinson (journalists who use blogging tools). I trust them all not because of what they are called, or because I agree with them all the time but because of how they behave.

Can PR be done openly and honestly? I suspect like journalism, it will only survive if concentrates on building openness and trust.

3. Blackwater says:

“The lines between journalism and PR have been purposely blurred by those in the PR industry, carelessly mistaking a writer’s remit for the PR man’s brief. One manipulates a story to sell something and one manipulates something to tell a story. There is a subtle but meaningful difference.”

Blackwater should read today’s Daily Mail. The Daily Mail has a particular view of the world, a line like most newspapers. Does today’s Mail contain examples of stories “manipulated to sell something” i.e. The Mail?

Doesn’t the Independent do something similar? Aren’t both looking for stories and angles that support their readers’ world view and emotional preferences, and is “the truth” always revealed or does it sometimes get lost?

Bloggers, journalists, marketeers and PR people are a network, even a community who rely on each other and increasingly use the same tools and techniques.

They all need to be truthful and honest. The internet is forcing them to be.

Blogs – Are We Getting Somewhere?

December 10, 2007

Two posts about blogging sensitive subjects at the BBC. One from Tom Scott  and one from Curtis Poe.

I shouldn’t blow my own trumpet as Curtis is referring to the guidelines that I helped write.

But his comments make me think we, (and I mean the BBC, James Cridland, Tom Scott and everybody) might just be getting somewhere in trying to make the BBC more open.

Curtis says:

“And despite various things the BBC has done wrong, this is what the BBC does right. Blogs are for communicating, not for press releases. They’re not official discussions, but they can say a lot more about a company than an official communication which is carefully vetted by lawyers. And while the BBC has plenty of blogs, you don’t even have to blog there about your job if you don’t want to. I sometimes blog about the BBC on my personal journal rather than their official ones. They’re OK with that. I finally get to work for a company which “gets” blogs.”