BBC Editor Wants To “Help People To Take Collective Action On Climate Change”
By Paul Homewood
The BBC Academy, which according to Wikipedia is an educational arm of the British Broadcasting Corporation which trains current and prospective broadcasting employees in the skills of the Broadcasting industry, in addition to training the corporation’s own staff and prospects, has this post up:
For this year’s #EditorsLab Final at the Global Editors Network conference in Barcelona, the teams were set the challenge of coming up with new ways to report on the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs).
Our BBC team was made up of a journalist (me), designer Tom Nurse and developer Sam French. We were asked to build a prototype to engage audiences and innovate coverage on the issues.
The hackathon officially began on Wednesday morning. On the fourth floor of the conference centre, away from all distractions, we kicked around ideas – most of which were rejected as being too complex to achieve in two days, or because we couldn’t find sufficient data to back them up.
We wanted to look at goal number 13, which is to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. The idea we settled on was to look at using the News website’s real-time analytics data to show readers the potential impact of collective action.
The UK government wants to reduce C02 emissions by at least 80% from 1990 levels by 2050. Consumers will have to make some radical changes to their behaviour if we are to reach that goal.
The News website has a contract with a company called Chartbeat which provides data on how many people are reading the site at any one time, and how they behave on pages and indexes – showing, for instance, how long they spend reading a piece and where they click to next.
Most people understand the climate problems and are concerned about them, but they feel helpless as individuals. We wanted to show in a dynamic way that together our audience could have an impact: “If you were one of 300,000 people on the website now and you all changed your behaviour, what would that mean? How much C02 could you save?”
Tom created a design for the front page with a prominent teaser promo featuring dynamically generated numbers based on our live user data. If you clicked through, you end up on a bespoke page which showed in numbers the cumulative impact on C02 emissions of a small behaviour change – in the case of the demo we made, the impact on carbon emissions of swapping a paper cup for a mug while at work.
The page featured a graphic of national carbon emissions numbers and the 2050 target.
Underneath, we explained why this small behaviour change was important, and we surfaced other existing related content on the BBC website that is tagged with the climate change topic.
Our feature allowed for social sharing to build a community of readers who are trying to make a difference.
Our site would then live on as a dynamic promo on the existing climate change index page, on the science and environment index, and on all pages tagged with climate change. It could be adapted for different countries/regions, and for different ‘together’ events or issues.
We called it BBC Together and see it potentially as an umbrella brand with other journalistic possibilities.
We finished the prototype on Thursday evening. We pitched it to the judges, along with the projects from 13 other teams. Ours didn’t win, but we had a good time putting it together, and, who knows, maybe one day it’ll even lead to the saving of some CO2.
I am sure there is nothing wrong with the idea of a Global Editors Network, where journalists can get together and knock a few ideas around. One starts to get a bit worried, though, when they get the idea that they need to find new ways to report on the UN’s sustainable development goals, (presumably because the old ways are having little effect).
But by what right does Sarah Shenker, a front page editor for BBC News, along with her cronies, think it is her job to help people take collective action on climate change?
Or to develop social sharing to build a community of readers who are trying to make a difference?
Or, heaven help us, to adapt the feature for different ‘together’ events or issues.
It is not even as if she is just some dippy little tea girl.
It is not within the remit of the BBC to campaign on any issue. But with Comrade Harrabin leading the way, don’t expect the likes of dippy little Sarah to understand that.