EBU hosts its first digital news workshop in Geneva

Geneva, August 2016: If digital is the new normal, what is the impact for news production and consumption trends? 35 news professionals from 19 EBU Members recently gathered in Geneva to share experiences and explore their challenges in delivering digital news services and serving all audiences effectively with high-quality content and on all devices and platforms.

The 1st Digital News Workshop began with EBU Media Director Jean Philip De Tender telling Members that “News content from public service media (PSM) is core – news is how we guide our audience in a complex world. It’s challenging today to create and produce content and get it to the audience with so many gatekeepers in between.”

“Digital means fast,” he added, “but this comes with a challenge – politics is happening in 140 characters and we can’t do news like that. “There’s a difference in making popular news and making news popular on all platforms and in all formats and this is a critical role of PSM.”

The day’s keynote came from YLE’s Director of News, Current Affairs, Sport & Regional Programming Atte Jääskelainen who showcased the massive changes the Finnish public broadcaster has undergone to adapt to digital in the last decade.

“In 2007 YLE had a big bang – we merged radio and TV news and created our own news agency and website which published its content,” he said.

“Since then we’ve had more reorganisation, we closed regional TV studios and moved the broadcast of regional news to one place to free up journalists in the regions to create content. A sports web service allows 800 thousand people to choose which sports news they want to receive. He also discussed Kioski – a news and current affairs service with a social media approach.

“We produce memes, hosted clips, explainers, vlogs, social experiments, animations and gifs. We do live streaming, Q and As, and then we do a weekly wrap up once a week on TV.”

“We’ve changed many times since 2014 it’s a policy of trial and error but as broadcasters we need new distribution strategies to reach audiences all the time – the future looks different in 6 months than it does today,” Jääskelainen concluded.

The workshop also saw a profile of the EBU’s UGC (user generated content) verification Network by News Editor Anne-Marie Lupu. The initiative allows EBU Members to collaborate on authentication of eyewitness media found on social and messaging networks.

Various Member projects were also showcased presentations from the BBC, France Télévisions, RTE, ZDF, NRK and VRT, including:

  • ZDF Heute+, an interactive news bulletin which produces content for social media first and is then aired live every Friday evening on prime-time;
  • NRK’s Supernytt which educates Norwegian children to become good online citizens and is currently building its own studio in order to deliver news first online and through social media and;
  • VRT Nieuwshub - a digital news innovation hub, the first PSM start-up for a newsroom that explores ways for VRT News to become a more agile digitally focused news service evolving with the media needs and behaviour of its audience.

Members also shared the challenges they face at their own organisations which included skills shortages in digital production, making serious content as popular as light content on social media, not adapting quickly enough in embracing digital and fragmentation of channels.

EBU Head of News Jeff Dubin said the EBU wanted to “assist members with the development and operation of their own digital news services, as well as identifying types of digital news content desired by members for use on their mobile and digital platforms.”

Interest was expressed in the possibility of an EBU News innovation hub which could coordinate and work with Members own news innovation labs as well strong interest in digital and mobile specific content including an exchange of members digital news content, exchange of short news clips, exchange of 360 content and digital live streams from news locations.

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