Wednesday, January 17, 2007

BBC starts Academy of Journalism

The BBC has launched a major new website as part of an Academy of Journalism project. The journalism college website aims to create a massive training resource for employees of the BBC, and there are plans to make much of the material available to the wider public by the end of the year.

The site comprises 500 pages and over 40 video clips with both practical exercises, how-to guides helping journalists of all levels to improve their skills, and theoretical discussions on the practice of journalism aimed to stimulate debate. As well as featuring 10 categories dealing with issues ranging from BBC values to the future of journalism, every day the site’s homepage will lead with three new stories. The aim is to extract learning from daily examples in the news so that senior editors will have something they can work with the next time an issue arises. Most of the resources are technical and practical.

The college interviewed all the senior journalists in the BBC and asked them to help in a number of ways. It commissioned films, articles and how-to guides from them to put on the website. Content includes lessons on craft skills with exercises about writing and on how to use statistics and data. The site also features material stimulated by the monthly editorial policy meetings within the BBC where the big issues are discussed. The site is a learning tool, not a way for management to impose its ideology on staff.

It is hoped that the interactive features the site offers will make the experience of learning more engaging. The course was set up after that the BBC was critised for for the death of an informant and failings in the coverage of the European Union and Middle East. So, there is a guide on speed vs accuracy, note-taking, protecting sources, handling allegations, statistics and risks, correcting mistake.

It is the intention to have an external site by the end of the year. But first some problems such as legal rights and presentation will have to be solved. The present course aims at BBC employees. The college is still discussing whether the external site of 10 million British pounds could be monetised. The BBC says there is interest in the site coming from outside the UK and the site could be of use to journalism schools as well.

Blog Posting Number: 636


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