Tag Archives: Broadcast

Twitter, comments, and the reaction to Rowenna Davis’ NHS surgery liveblog


Last week, Guardian journalist and newly-elected Labour councillor for Southwark Rowenna Davis used Twitter to liveblog the heart operation of a two-week-old girl at Great Ormond Street hospital.

Her updates were also posted on the Guardian’s NHS liveblog alongside photos she took during the surgery (see above) and tweets from followers.

Going through Davis’ @ messages and tweets that used the #nhsblog hashtag shows the response on Twitter was, as she said, “overwhelmingly positive”. The Media Blog called it “A perfect use of Twitter“.

But interestingly, the response on the Guardian’s Comment is free site, where Davis blogged about the reaction to her coverage, was almost completely the opposite.

The comments that follow the CiF post are almost overwhelmingly negative, with Davis’ live coverage of the surgery called, “mawkish”, “ghoulish”, “a stunt”, “revolting sensationalism”, and more.

An interesting point of comparison for the coverage, which has been raised in the CiF comment thread, is broadcast, but it is hard to see people reacting quite the same way about a fly-on-the-wall documentary.

A few commenters suggested the problem with Davis’ liveblog was that it was live, and that the risk to the girl’s life made that inappropriate (according to Davis the operation carried a 1 or 2 per cent risk). Whereas a documentary, commenter davidabsalom said, would be recorded in advance.

But Channel 4 screened a series of programmes in 2009 that showed live surgery, during which viewers were invited to interact with the surgeons using Twitter, email and the telephone.

Channel 4’s David Glover said at the time that the programme was designed to “demystify surgery, encourage discussion and help viewers to understand their own bodies, as well as showing the care, dedication and skill that goes into modern surgery”.

Ofcom archives show no record of any complaints about the programme (less than 10 complaints are not recorded).

The Surgery Live patients were adults, rather than children as in this case, but Davis obtained consent from the girl’s parents. And the operations – brain, heart, and stomach surgery – seem no less risky than the one in this case.

So I can’t help but wonder whether the discrepancy between the responses on Twitter and on CiF stems from the medium itself, with those who use Twitter – and so responded via the network – much more likely to see the coverage in a positive light, and those on Comment is Free more likely to construe it negatively. (I can’t assess how many of those who commented on the CiF post use Twitter, so this is something of a shot in the dark).

Davis has responded several times in the comment thread to defend the journalistic value of her coverage, including this post:

I think one key dividing line about whether this is defensible is intention. If you’re just blindly seeking ratings for entertainment value, that’s pretty grim. But if your aim is to offer some kind of insight into the reality of the job surgeons face and the trials families have to go through, that seems quite different. Especially when it helps bring to light the importance of the health service, and how vital it is that we get the reforms right.

That said, I think the points you are raising are valid, and it’s important to raise them. There are certainly ways in which I could see this being done insensitively.

You can follow the full debate here.

Reported legal action against CNN for lack of captions on online news video

According to reports, including this one published on CNN Money, a disabilities rights group has filed legal action against CNN parent company Time Warner, for publishing news videos online without captions.

As CNN reports, a defeat “could have significant implications for every online video provider in California”.

The Greater Los Angeles Agency on Deafness (GLAD) as well as four individual plaintiffs allege that CNN violates California’s Civil Rights Act and the state’s Disabled Persons Act by serving videos without closed captions online. The plaintiffs are seeking class action status on behalf of all deaf and hard of hearing persons in California, and want to get the court to issue an injunction against Time Warner as well as force the company to pay statutory damages.

A CNN spokesman was quoted as saying that the company had not been served and declined to comment further.

Here is a link to what the CNN report claims to be the lawsuit.

BBC responds to Chancellor’s criticism of financial reporting

Yesterday on BBC Radio Four’s Today programme the Chancellor George Osborne seemed to suggest that the BBC‘s reporting on the economy had at times focused on more ‘bad news’ stories than positive, saying he wanted to see “more balance”.

I’ve listened to news bulletins on your programme for the last year. Every time there’s an unfortunate loss of jobs somewhere, a few hundred jobs, it’s on the news bulletin. I’ve not yet heard a single news bulletin that says 400,000 new jobs have been created over the past year, that just doesn’t appear on the news.

Last week there was a disappointing manufacturing survey, it was on the news, today there’s a more encouraging manufacturing survey, its not on the news. I think what I’m asking for is a bit more balance in the way we look at the British economy at the moment.

Later that day editor of the BBC News business and economics unit Jeremy Hillman responded via the Editors Blog to the specific claims.

… had the chancellor been listening carefully to Today just an hour earlier (he seemed to suggest he had been but may have missed it) he would have heard our economics editor Stephanie Flanders say clearly that over the last year employment has been very strong and that private employment was especially strong.

Viewers of our main Six and Ten O’Clock News bulletins will know that virtually every single time we report unemployment figures we also give the employment figure for fairness and balance. It’s also worth noting that in our heavily read online coverage we have reported on at least seven job creation stories in just the last few of weeks.

He did accept however that at times the BBC may over-emphasise or under-emphasise something.

That always ensures a lively and valuable editorial discussion in the newsroom. Very occasionally we may miss something interesting completely, though we’ll try to catch up as soon as we realise. While we understand the political context around all our business and economics reporting, our sole purpose is to report and put context around the data for the benefit of all our audiences, reflecting that there are differing points of view and analysis which may occasionally make uncomfortable reading from both sides of the political divide.

TechCrunch: YouTube launches creative commons licence option

It is being widely reported that YouTube has now launched the ability for users to choose how they licence their content through its video editor platform.

The new Creative Commons option will give other people permission to use footage, including for commercial purposes, with attribution, according to TechCrunch.

It is also reported that initially YouTube is working with content partners including C-SPAN and Al Jazeera to offer a starting batch of 10,000 videos under the creative commons license. Al Jazeera already makes some of its content available under a creative commons licence, shown in this repository. TechCrunch reports that it will not take long for YouTube’s 10,000 video store to grow.

That library will rapidly increase as more people switch their content over to Creative Commons, and there’s even a tool that will let you swap the license for a bunch of videos at once.

A request for more information from YouTube has not yet been answered, but details of YouTube’s creative commons policy can be found here.

Guardian: BBC proposal to ‘pool’ journalists across Today, Newsnight and Panorama

The Guardian reports this morning that some journalists on BBC programmes including Newsnight, Panorama and Radio 4’s Today programme could be replaced by a “pooled system of journalists”.

According to the Guardian’s report the possible idea was outlined to staff on Tuesday by BBC News director Helen Boaden.

The change would affect the news programmes department within BBC News, which is separate from the main newsgathering operation providing stories for the TV and radio bulletins.

In a statement the BBC said it was “not going to get drawn into a running commentary”.

No decisions have been taken and therefore these claims remain speculation. Any decisions coming out of the process would be subject to approval by the BBC Trust.

Media release: Reuters launches 24-hour live news stream

Reuters this week announced it had launched an online live stream service, providing video access to breaking and scheduled news events from around the world.

In a release the news agency said the live stream will provide a faster and cost-effective option to the traditional satellite news-gathering method.

“Publishers asked for customizable news video, and that’s exactly what we are delivering,” said Chris Ahearn, president of media, Thomson Reuters.”You will continue to see Reuters delivering tools that increase efficiency, reduce cost, and drive revenue. We are working hard to meet the growing demands of the media industry.”

According to Reuters the Tribune Company in the US and Fairfax Media in Australia were the first to adopt the new technology, to carry live coverage of the royal wedding.

News teams nominated for 2011 BAFTAs

Nominations have been announced for the 2011 British Academy Television Awards, with production teams at the BBC, Channel 4, ITV and Sky all nominated within the News Coverage category.

The production teams behind BBC1’s Ten O’Clock News: Handover of Power, Channel 4 News: From Chile’s Ecstacy to Congo’s Agony, ITV News at Ten: The Cumbria Murders and Sky News: Egypt Crisis, all made the official list of nominations.

Other categories within the awards, which will be presented at a ceremony on 22 May in London, include Current Affairs, Single Documentary and Factual Series.

Metro: World media gear up for the wedding

The Metro this morning reported that “an international army” of 8,000 broadcast journalists and technicians, covering the Royal Wedding on Friday, will be operating from a temporary multimedia village in Green Park.

According to the Metro major networks have spent around £50,000 to set up temporary studios offering Buckingham Palace as a backdrop. Interest “has been strongest” in the US, the Metro report adds.

CNN alone is dispatching at least 400 staffers, including 50 journalists and producers to cover the spectacle and plans several news special this week. Even the Weather Channel has caught royal wedding fever with its Wake Up With Al programme based in London.

CNN announced last month that it would also be sending one of its iReporters to London to cover the wedding.

Media release: PA signs UK video news deal for US with AP

The Press Association has signed “a landmark deal” with the Associated Press to distribute PA’s UK video news footage through the US wire’s archive.

Under the new agreement AP’s archive customers will be able to access more than 18,000 UK videos, with new content from PA added on a daily basis.

A release from both parties says the deal will help the PA extend the reach of its footage beyond the UK and “significantly bolster the UK news element of AP’s video offering”.

It added the stories supplied to AP have been “specifically designed as ‘archive-friendly’ compilations of the rushes from which the story was created”.

Fully shortlisted, the stories provide customers with longer sequences and greater depth than the tightly edited packages offered by other suppliers.

See the full release here…

Guardian: TV’s royal wedding nerves

The Guardian is reporting that 8,000 broadcast journalists will descend on London for this month’s royal wedding, which is expected to attract 2 billion viewers worldwide.

Despite the severe strain placed on newsgathering budgets by the recent glut of major foreign news stories, UK and overseas broadcasters have committed considerable manpower and resources in one of the world’s most expensive cities to cover the Westminster Abbey wedding. “This will almost certainly be the biggest team of broadcast crew and reporters ever assembled for an outside broadcast in London,” says a senior BBC source.

The Guardian predicts around 140 OB trucks will be stationed in Green Park, the media hub, plus cameras will film from vantage points in commercial buildings which have been rented out for up to £120,000.

All broadcasters will be reliant on the pooled live feeds inside Westminster Abbey provided by the BBC, Sky News and ITN, which will share the costs and the rights income. But they will have their own reporting teams and cameramen outside the abbey and there is certain to be fierce competition to provide the best commentary, get the first live shots of particular incidents and find the most compelling human interest stories.

The Guardian’s full article is at this link