BBC News Fix

  • BBC News Presenter Count 2016: January – June: Outside Source

    I won’t lie to you. Why would I? Outside Source is fascinating. This is a news-hour forging a new, digital style of live video news. I didn’t rate it last time we spoke. Now, it intrigues me and, dare I say it, I like it. BBC World News gifts the News Channel once a night an innovative programme trying to integrate the complexities of online media into the broadcast. Genius. Outside Source is built to open up the BBC news machine for all to see, thriving in a breaking news situation and set up to combine the best the BBC has to offer with the best from social media and other sources to give added context to stories. Here’s an advert from a poet. You may think I’m bias or working for OS.

    The advantage of the I’m A Celebrity-inspired screen is it shows developments better. Things that come in text form come in a more visual manner for the viewer (for me that means: Wehey, visual stuff), as opposed to traditional formats where a copy of text is read out like old-school boring HIGNFY minus Charlie Brooker’s sarcasm. Believe it or not, Outside Source started as a radio show in 2013. Ha, and now it has more to offer visually than… hmm, searching for similes, here. Oh, the superlatives have befuddled me. Nevertheless, Outside Source really is the news equivalent of baring it all. Like… on I’m A Celebrity? Video reports, raw footage, live feeds, internal briefing notes, news wires, agency stills, social media, correspondent deployments, the works. It’s in real-time and, yes, what you see is real too. If dear old Ross presses the wrong button, the wrong thing comes up. Such fun.

    You get to see the editorial processes behind the often-complained-about storytelling that is traditionally kept out of sight and if a story feels bemusing, intractable, heart-breaking or boring, Ros can say so, just like you and I do every day when we consume the news with no mics to be seen. Hahaha Teresa May as PM, Michael Gove as a candidate, Boris… Sadly, they never went that far. Some journalists believe the way we consume the news has been so fundamentally changed by the Internet that, inevitably, TV’s time will pass. It's certainly true that the 50-year domination of the classic TV news format makes it understandably hard to walk away from its language, structures and sets. Look at the brilliant ratings of the Ten O’Clock News and there’s another very good reason not to. And different is definitely not a guarantee of better. But there are risks here. An increasing number of people don’t make TV a regular part of their news diet because it feels out of sync with what’s happening when they turn on their phone or their PC. Now the BBC are catering for them, and everyone else, avoiding stubbornness and embracing change. Here’s that all important Count:

    (1) Ros Atkins – 70

    (2) Nuala McGovern – 11

    (3) Karin Giannone – 10

    (4) Philippa Thomas – 5

    Christian Fraser – 5

    (5) Michelle Fleury – 1

    Simple stats, not much to analyse, I’m afraid. Atkins is clearly enjoying this gig, and his exclusivity and dedication is the kinda work I’d like from Huw on the Five. This essentially could be the leaderboard shape for that very hour of news, if BBC producers cut back on all the randomness and, like OS, the Five was less concerned with outside broadcasts and more technological and interactive insight. McGovern has really stepped up, now sharing the post of deputy with Giannone and yep, there’s Thomas and Fraser. More Fraser, please and, hey, why not Fleury in-studio in a couple of years? I’m content with this show, surprise, surprise, and finally estranged from the World News randomness I’m about to report, OS is certainly a relevant, much-needed and, in my books, valuable piece of TV that should stay in the NC schedules for a long while.

    Future: Bright and sunny, a few other hosts down the line, with a dose of the WNT team poking their heads in to see what all the fuss is about…

    Tom Scudamore,

    BNF’s sleepy summer-lover


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