Monday, June 18, 2012

Super docs, super films, now Super News - the future of news

new BBC building off Oxford Street

Sociologists would have us believe we're in the age of individualism, self identity, and the rise of bijou, in the smaller cottage networks.

One of those, the BBC is definitely not, the other is questionable, while the last spells the project's conclusion.

We've had the super structures, super films in Inception rallying against the Indie, the rise of the super docs which would leave you little change from $1,000,000 and now its super news.

You could argue we've always had super news in the big globals e.g. Reuters, Sky, ITN, ABC, NBC, CBS, the BBC etc.

But this is different. Call it Mega news, because the sight of the BBC's new headquarters inside, more than outside is exactly that - a statement of intent that screams: "Don't you know who we bloody are? We're the BBC".

BBC from the 5th Floor - light deco and reds

Surveying from the 5th floor, both underneath me and on top, where Radio 1 is, the site and deco is something out of the jump or google building - though I didn't see any table tennis boards.

Like its White City sibling, it's open plan, with studios dotted all across the floor. The main ones are in the basement being finished off I was told.

For BBC World Service figures, the musty smell of mahogany and coves for private debates will be as distant a memory as the name "overseas service". Thus far, it's believed generally people are settling in well, though desk space is a premium, so as one journalist put it, sharp elbows could be dangerous.

The news desk however is the closest thing to Star Treks coms, with an assortment of feeds and monitors

Monitoring news from the desk

Downstairs on the sub floor, the innovation that is the heart-and-artery news room is evident, though its still has some finishes. BBC Television News are prepping to be beamed in around September.

BBC News pod- heart and artery shape 

The sight of journalists reacting to a breaking story in this proscenium will be something worth seeing, which you can see, because it's also a public gallery which you can reach by literally taking fifteen steps off the street. And it won't just be journos being watched by your aunt peggy, because apparently there's a rostrum camera on wires that can whiz by journos, to give us the viewer, well a "journo-eye-view:.

BBC Journalists will have to watch what they read, as newspaper journos train their camera on them in an attempt to fill the gossip columns, with "our newspaper is clearly favoured by the BBC'.

At full pelt Oxford Street residents will see nothing like it. Seemingly, the architects had no interest in decentralisation, notwithstanding Salford's migration, so in the evenings home time could be quite a sight.

Ford would clearly be proud, but what's this thing about bucking the trend of sociologists? Well, Mass Communication was a 1920s concept under Lord Reith, its then Director General.

In the 1990s the philosophy was towards the individual. The very presence of the web, websites, citizen journalism and the rest added to the sense of small is good. We've seen that equally in record companies setting up sub labels.

News for a while too fell into its smaller division of labour or at least upheld the illusion with offices all around London. Now that philosophy is about to be kaiboshed. If cinema can do it and win audiences, why not news, you can imagine the strategists proclaiming.

So here's to Super News.  The hope of course is that this doesn't mean reverting only to super stories.

Thanks to James for showing me around :)

More pics soon