Tag Archives: Steve Herrmann

BBC News launches ‘responsive’ site as 26% of hits come from mobile

BBC News this week released a “responsive” site aimed at mobile which automatically scales to fit the device it is viewed on.

It can be viewed at m.bbc.co.uk/news.

More than a quarter of hits on BBC News come from mobile, including via apps and the mobile and desktop sites which are accessed via a browser, rather than desktop, according to a post on the Editors blog.

In an average week, for example, the BBC News site and apps are visited by about 9.7 million users on mobile and tablet devices worldwide, or about 26 per cent of total users to BBC News Online.


Writing on the blog, Steve Herrmann, editor of the BBC News website, states:

This new site is designed, for now, mainly for simpler phones, although you should be able to access it on any device. It will gradually evolve as new features and functionality are added in coming weeks, to the point where it becomes the default browser for smartphones as well.

Kate Milner, mobile product manager for BBC News writes on the Internet blog:

We’ve made it easier for you to skim through the news headlines and view the ‘most read’ articles. Features and analysis stories are also now showcased throughout the site.

We’re improving our coverage of live news stories for all mobile users. The live page format offers short form updates related to big stories as they unfold, for example on stories like the Budget and global news events.

She goes on to say “over the coming weeks and months we’ll be adding more features and functionality”, including video for those devices that can display it.


Editor of BBC News website outlines live coverage trial

Over on the Editors blog BBC website editor Steve Herrmann discusses how the broadcaster is currently trialling some changes to its use of live pages to develop the format from simply being built around big news stories, to becoming a more regular feature.

The format has been a big success in terms of usage, so we’re thinking about what more we could do with it. We think the pages are not necessarily just about breaking news – they are also a real-time showcase of the best of what we (and others) are doing, so we’ve been wondering whether – and how – we could make this approach work as a regular feature on the site rather than just something we use around big stories. What would it take and how would we need to organise ourselves differently in the newsroom and beyond?

So we’re currently trying some of this out – you can see an example here. This isn’t the first trial we’ve done, and it won’t be the last, and the approach and format may change, because these tests allow us to get valuable insights into how we might develop it, what works and what doesn’t.

Herrmann adds that part of this trial will also look at bringing the BBC’s news and social media output closer together, referring to a recent move by the BBC to reduce its use of automated feeds on its @BBCNews and @BBCWorld twitter accounts.


Mumbai and Twitter: how the BBC dealt with Tweets and accuracy

Some interesting lessons learnt by the BBC News website from last week’s coverage of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, according to a blog post by editor Steve Herrmann.

The site used Tweets which seemed to be reports from Mumbai as part of its live updates page, which also featured news updates and excerpts from correspondents and blogs.

This page has a specific role, explains Herrmann in the post, to provide ‘a running account, where we are making quick judgments on and selecting what look like the most relevant and informative bits of information as they come in’, prior to making more considered reports for the main news items and bulletins.

“These accounts move more quickly and include a wider array of perspectives and sources, not all verified by us, but all attributed, so that in effect we leave some of the weighing up of each bit of information and context to you.”

Referring to one particular tweet about the Indian government attempting to clamp down on Twitter, which many tried to verify at the time, Herrmann asks whether this – and other potentially unverified items – should have been included in the coverage.

Not if it’s not attributed and not if it’s going to appear in a main news item, he says:

“In one sense, the very fact that this report was circulating online was one small detail of the story that day. But should we have tried to check it and then reported back later, if only to say that we hadn’t found any confirmation? I think in this case we should have, and we’ve learned a lesson. The truth is, we’re still finding out how best to process and relay such information in a fast-moving account like this.”

There is an argument for including such reports, whether they come in by Twitter, email or photograph, as means of passing on the information to readers as quickly as possible ‘on the basis that many people will want to know what we know and what we are still finding out, as soon as we can tell them’.

It is clear that with every major news event the site is experimenting and developing its newsgathering and reporting strategy, showing just how flexible and online news organisation needs to be to serve its users at times of breaking news.

BBC in mobile news push

The BBC is running a new campaign advertising its mobile news website. Videos of the ads can be viewed on the BBC The Editors blog, where editor of BBC News website, Steve Herrmann, explains there’s research being done into BBC News users’ news consumption habits.

According to the study, BBC News consumers have a ‘news ecosystem’ constructed from a range of different media. Mobile is a growing part of this ecosystem and is currently predominantly used to access news headlines, major news stories and areas of specific interest.

The BBC’s mobile services overall currently have 3.2 million users a month, according to M:Metrics – a 26 per cent rise between September 2007 and September 2008.

US Elections: Guardian rolls out special homepage

To complement its liveblogged coverage of election day, which is still going at time of writing, Guardian.co.uk has changed its homepage design to the below:

This is a template that could be used for other major news events. As BBC News online editor Steve Herrmann told Journalism.co.uk earlier this week the election has been a great opportunity for news sites to experiment with coverage and layout, developing features for future use.

BBC News and Sport websites show off new looks

The BBC News and Sport websites have today launched their revamped websites. Both editors admit the sites, which are the results of months of development in response to reader feedback, are works in progress.

It’s not a complete redesign, says Steve Herrmann, editor of the BBC News website, on his blog, but more of a ‘site refresh’. Here’s what has changed on both sites according to blog posts from Herrmann and Ben Gallop, head of BBC Sport Interactive:

BBC News

Screenshot of new look BBC News website

  • Wider page layout
  • More open design
  • New masthead
  • Centred pages
  • Use of larger images – enabled by the wider page design
  • Better incorporation of advertising in international version of the site
  • Introduction of embedded audio and video within news pages, with links to this content placed higher on the page
  • Cross-platform content – an area of the BBC News site will be created featuring highlights from TV and radio news programmes

BBC Sport

Screenshot of new look BBC Sport website

  • Wider page layout
  • Use of larger images
  • Introduction of embedded audio and video within sports pages, with links to this content placed higher on the page
  • More prominence for feature content – ‘high profile’ section for original sports journalism content now in middle of the page
  • Better incorporation of advertising in international version of site

Happy Birthday BBC News website

The BBC News website celebrates its 10th birthday this week – though no exact date can be pinned down according to the corporation.

The look of the place has changed a lot in the last decade as this screengrab from December 1 1998, courtesy of the Way Back Machine internet archive, shows (though even then you can get your news in video and audio, and Gordon Brown still manages to top the bill).

BBC News website 1998

But the changes aren’t over given the recent goings on at the Beeb: the future promises an on-demand personalised news service, more user-generated content and an integrated multimedia newsroom.

Notably, BBC News Interactive – the department that set up the BBC’s news site – will cease to exist. In his blog, Steve Herrmann, former editor of BBC News interactive and now editor of BBC News website, says the integration process has ‘clear benefits’ for the website.

But Herrmann also acknowledges the risks involved. “From my point of view, I am concerned that the editorial coherence of the news website should not be sacrificed in the name of efficiency,” he writes. Shouldn’t integration naturally strengthen editorial coherence? Many of the porn games on my list are created by individual geeks or small teams, and the fanbases that play them offer direct input on what they want to see and play. The creators of games like Summertime Saga and Wild Life court feedback from their players via platforms like https://pornova.org , while an entire online community has sprung up around Fenoxo games like Corruption of Champions and Trials in Tainted Space. Message boards, polls, and direct messages are just a few of the ways players interact with their favorite game designers, who are quick to implement what their fans want.

What the BBC News website will look like by the end of this year, let alone by the end of another ten, is anybody’s guess, but what would you keep and what should be the first thing to go?