The BBC at #NewFronts2017: Combating ‘Fake News’ With ‘Slow News’
I had a seat in the front row of the BBC’s 2017 NewFronts presentation, and as expected, BBC.com talked about how news organizations like the BBC can play an integral role in combating fake news. But, one of its strategies and tactics was totally unexpected: The BBC calls it, “slow news.” Now, before anyone jumps to the wrong conclusion, the British Broadcasting Corporation is also focused on what it calls, “fast news.” With 2,000 journalists – and more than 250 correspondents in 50 foreign news bureau around the world – BBC News often breaks stories in places like Venezuela or Nigeria before other news organizations can fly in a reporter from the US. But, video marketers understand that concept.
However, Katty Kay, the anchor of BBC World News America, as well as her boss, Francesca Unsworth, the Director of the BBC World Service Group and Deputy Director of News and Current Affairs, discussed a very different concept that the BBC plans to use to combat fake news. Unsworth said:
“Alongside our continued breaking news coverage, there is going to be an increased focus on ‘slow news’ in the coming months. This means more in depth analysis of topics, putting events into context, as well as providing audiences with the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ behind the news headlines.”
Slow News = In Depth Analysis
Now, that’s a big idea. And according to research, two thirds of people who consume BBC News already say it helps them understand a story better. The BBC has also created an “expert network” with invited intellectual institutions and think tanks with exceptional expertise providing insight, analysis and research, and data journalism will become a core element of the BBC’s expertise in visual journalism.
And it isn’t something that internet trolls or hate groups will be able to match easily or cheaply. But, fake news is written and published with the intent to mislead in order to gain financially or politically, often with sensationalist, exaggerated, or patently false headlines that grab attention. So, fake news can still be created by “dark money” or be used for cyberwarfare by Russia. So, “slow news” isn’t a panacea.
This means that fact-checking websites, including Snopes.com and FactCheck.org, need to continue posting guides to spotting and avoiding fake news websites. It also means that social media sites and search engines, such as Facebook and Google, need to continue taking measures to explicitly prevent the spread of fake news. And, for the media buyers attending BBC.com’s 2017 NewFronts presentation, it means taking a second look at one of the most trusted news sources in the world and exploring how its editorial expertise and values can enhance its commercial offerings.
BBC News: A Global Resource
Now, the BBC World News television channel is available in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide, and over 433 million households and 3 million hotel rooms. The channel’s content is also available on 178 cruise ships, 53 airlines, including 13 distributing the channel live inflight, and 23 mobile phone networks. BBC.com offers up-to-the- minute international news and in-depth analysis for PCs, tablets and mobile devices to more than 95 million unique browsers globally each month.
This makes the digital content presented by the BBC, which is affectionately called ‘Auntie Beeb’, or just ‘The Beeb’ not only brand safe, but also surprisingly engaging – which is an unlikely combination. But, the BBC has been in the business of accurate, rigorous news and compelling storytelling for 95 years. (And in its spare time, it aired sketch comedy shows like Monty Python’s Flying Circus.)
So, the BBC’s expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness extends beyond reporting the news. That’s why the BBC.com’s event mentioned this year’s plans for Click, its flagship technology program, as well as upcoming features in vertical categories, including BBC Capital, BBC Culture, BBC Future, and BBC Travel. It also included new projects from the features team, which will roll out over the next year. These will include:
- Future You, which will focus on the intersection of tech and health.
- The 100 Women series, which will continue to drive change for people who identify as female.
- D:Signed, which is a new vertical about fashion, art, and architecture and how technology affects those areas.
- The Premier League’s 25th anniversary is in August this year.
- Grand Challenges, which asks world leaders in health, tech, science, and business to tackle problems the world is facing.
So, why should an American audience trust journalists from the BBC to tell us what’s happening in the world? Well, there are three key reasons. First, unlike some other journalists, they can speak with an English accent. Second, Auntie Beeb modestly calls its anchors “news presenters” or “newsreaders.” And third, there’s an old joke that says when a new journalist is hired by the BBC, he or she is immediately sent to the basement of Broadcasting House to have his or her opinions surgically removed.
Seriously, the British Broadcasting Corporation brings a different perspective to journalism – and it is using different strategies and tactics to combat fake news. That means video marketers need to give it a closer look.
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