Tag Archives: phil fearnley

#Activateldn: Four innovations and ideas in ‘multilayered storytelling’

One of the sessions at today’s Guardian Activate Summit looked at how data and social media are influencing storytelling.

Here are four innovations, shared by Phil Fearnley, general manager, Future Media News & Knowledge, BBC; Stew Langille, CEO of Visually; Neal Mann, social media editor at the Wall Street Journal; and Simon Rogers, editor of the Guardian’s Datablog and Datastore.

1. The BBC gets ready for Olympic storytelling

The BBC site for the London Olympics gives every athlete, venue and sport its own page and apart from the homepage all are updated automatically with with the latest video and story content on that particular topic.

The Olympics site also focuses on personalisation, giving the audience the ability to favourite an athlete or sport and follow.

Fearnley said the development of the site started two years ago.

We had to satisfy the ‘main eventers’ and the ‘sports fanatics’. And we wanted to give the idea that you were never missing a moment.

The other innovation shared by Phil Fearnley was the BBC’s “live event video player”.

Viewers can use the interactive video player to jump back to a particular point in an event, such as a triple jump win, and then switch back to a live report.

With “up to 24 live events at once”, the player gives an experience that, according to Fearnley audiences say “is better than TV”.

We are transforming the way we tell video stories to our audiences.

2. Visually is allowing journalists to create their own data visualisations.

Visually launched last year “to democratise the way people use and consume data”. Today, the site has more than 11,000 infographics, 4,000 designers, and around 2 million visitors per month. In March, it launched Visually Create, a collection of self-service tools that allow anyone to create beautiful infographics.

Stew Langille, CEO of Visually told the conference that the team is now developing further tools which will allow journalists or anyone interested in creating a visualisation to do so.

3. Ideas in ‘multilayered storytelling’

Neal Mann, social media editor at the Wall Street Journal (@fieldproducer on Twitter) talked of the potential of “multilayered storytelling”.

Before taking up his new role at the WSJ, Mann went to Burkina Faso.

He worked with Storyful, which built a map which added his social media updates, photos (Mann is also a photographer) which was auto updated and which he shared with his large social media following.

“It allowed people to engage,” Mann said, explaining that updates from a less reported area were “continuously dropping onto people’s phones”.

The map got five times as many hits as a Guardian’s long-form piece of journalism from Mozambique, he said.

Other ways journalists are sharing “background” to text stories are by taking 360 degree images from a location.

His thought is that if you marry the two storytelling techniques, a social media map and long-form journalism, it would be even more powerful.

If you can combine the two it’s a great way news organisations can get people to engage in long-form journalism. The next level for me is that multilayered storytelling.

4. Open journalism, open data

Simon Rogers, editor of the Guardian Datastore and Datablog, shared examples of the Guardian’s data journalism.

He spoke of the conversations that went on before the launch of the Datastore where there was a view that people would not be interested in the raw data. Three years on and it has one million viewers a month

#GEN2012 – Dos and don’ts of connected TV strategy for publishers

Image by por brylle on Arte & Fotografia. Some rights reserved.

The connected TV audience “wants to be multitasked”, editors were told at the News World Summit in Paris today, as part of a session looking at four screen (and more) strategy.

Users do “not want to wait 12 hours” to discuss programming “at the water cooler”, head of digital strategy at France Televisions Bruno Patino said. Instead they want to do it “live on social networks”.

Patino called it “the social couch”, a “very rich and augmented TV experience.” which enables users to share their experience and not be “limited by same place or same time”.

So what should broadcasters be offering these audiences? Patino shared a list of dos and don’ts with delegates:


  • Don’t try to maintain the system closed – you won’t be master of the TV set anymore
  • Don’t try to limit the user experience
  • Don’t believe your content will rule the users’ experience


  • Always distribute – wherever you can. A new path is a new chance for your programme to be seen, don’t think exclusivity, think ubiquity
  • Engage the audience at every level including creation
  • Be xenophilic
  • Be pragmatic
  • Try, experiment
  • Talk about the whole universe
  • Try gamification
  • Promote connections
  • Test technologies
  • Put the user at the centre

Also speaking on the topic of four screen strategy, the BBC’s general manager of news and knowledge Phil Fearnley shared his own recommendations:

  • Work on standard and scalable solutions
  • Consider apps and browsers, not apps v browser
  • Simple design – quality content
  • The importance of live

At the BBC, he added, the importance of live is the “absolute focus”, as opposed to “trying to deliver all functionality” possible. That is “not going to work”, he said.

BBC Blog: IPTV is ‘arguably the platform of the future’

The BBC wants to build a prototype and pilot Internet Protocol Television (IPTV).

Speaking at the IPTV World Forum yesterday, Fearnley, who is general manager news and knowledge of BBC Future Media, said IPTV – which allows content from the internet is displayed on a connected TV – is “arguably the platform of the future”.

Writing on the BBC Internet Blog after delivering the speech, Fearnley says there are opportunities for BBC News Online in IPTV.

Screen Digest reports that by 2014 90 per cent of TV sets sold in Europe will be internet enabled. And of course, connected TVs are only part of the story; around three quarters of major brand consoles purchased in 2011 will be browser enabled so this is a huge area of growth.

That said, the IPTV market is in its infancy and we don’t know what mainstream audience reaction will be. An agreed editorial strategy and defined product roadmap from the BBC are still a way off, but in the meantime we’re keen to prototype and pilot within the market, glean audience feedback, and iterate quickly.

Fearnley goes on to imagine how IPTV could develop.

By looking at the strengths of BBC News on the web we can start to see how the service could be re-imagined for IPTV. When BBC News Online was refreshed last year we introduced ‘live pages’, housing up-to-the-minute AV content and real-time updates. Major events continue to demonstrate that traditional, ‘lean-back’ consumption isn’t enough for audiences. During the recent disaster in Japan over 79,996 users ‘shared’ the live page; the live event experience on the web is strong.

Imagine a browser-based BBC News experience on your TV. With closer proximity between the live broadcast and BBC Online you can envisage users dipping out of a London 2012 linear broadcast to access details of an athlete, event, or location online – a context enriched by our advances in dynamic semantic publishing, which my colleague Jem Rayfield blogged about last year.

In comparison, apps optimised to a platform standard could deliver a more focused type of utility. You can imagine a BBC News app for connected TV that unites digital journalism with the AV of the BBC News Channel, improved by on-demand, allowing users to navigate through bulletins and to drive their own consumption. There’s huge potential here, and the BBC’s role is the same as ever: expressing the full, creative potential of the medium.

Feanley’s post says IPTV is in its infancy and appeals to the industry to develop technologies in a way that are easy to use –  just as Ceefax was.

“A simple, intuitive navigational platform standard – seamlessly integrating linear and on-demand worlds – is what we ask of industry.”

Full blog post on the BBC site at this link