Robin Hamman – BBC

Posted on 04. Oct, 2007 by in International

Your work in networked/citizen/collaborative journalism

I’m a Senior Broadcast Journalist/Producer for BBC English Regions and I blog at At the moment I spend most of my time looking after the BBC’s external facing blog network and giving presentations about social media and blogging across all areas of the BBC.

These days I actually do very little journalism or production but I hope, and the evidence seems to suggest that, my ideas are helping inspire BBC journalists, program makers and editors to embrace social media.

Over the years I’ve worked with developers to create or improve various discussion platforms and have given editorial training for those managing those services or integrating them into their programs.

My primary focus at the moment is looking after the BBC’s network of around 40 blogs, running training courses for those bloggers and encouraging them to think of blogging not just as a publishing tool but as a technique that involves finding, tracking and joining into the conversation with other bloggers.

I’ve also been behind a pilot project in Manchester where we work with local bloggers, helping them to building their audiences whilst, at the same time, giving us the opportunity to highlight and editorialise the very best of their content for use online and on-air.

I’m also involved in a project with BBC Leicester where we’ve recruited members of staff, as well as some volunteer members of the public, to help us create weather content using a clever mix of 3g cameraphones, yahoo’s experimental zonetag software, flickr and twitter. This effort should be launching publicly any day now.

What are your goals?

To help BBC journalists and program makers think creatively about how they might embrace social media, technology and blogging in their work. (Often times a large element of this is simply telling people it’s ok to take risks and it’s ok to use third party services!)

* To encourage BBC people to participate in social media without forgetting that the emphasis is on social rather than media.

* To have fun, and show other peole how to have fun, playing with this stuff!

What are some of your notable achievements?

I’d like to think that I’ve influence the thinking of quite a lot of people within the BBC – in the past in helping them to build and manage successful audience communities on and, these days, to get them to think of the whole web, blogs and social media services included, as their canvas (hat tip to Tom Loosemore).

Lesson you’ve learned (including mistakes you’ve made)

I believed, and a lot of others thought, that with the BBC Manchester blog we’d come up with the holy grail – a way to build positive, honest relationships with audience contributors whilst, at the same time, avoiding the usual legal, technical and editorial risks involved with that. I still think the model has some legs to it but we’ve also learned some lessons:

* even cherrypicking content from RSS feeds takes a lot of time
* it’s difficult to motivate yourself to plow through content that isn’t of personal interest, even if that content would be great in the eyes of your audience
* being local requires actually being local (one member of the team, Richard Fair, is based in Manchester whilst I am based out of London)

I think the thing that surprised us most was the reaction from local bloggers who were at first a bit sceptical but who, once they’d seen the model we were using, fully embraced us as part of their community and even helped us where they could.

Are you getting revenue for this? How?

The BBC is funded by the public through the license fee. Jeff Jarvis reckons it’s a pretty good business model…

What’s next? What do you need to get to the next level?

I’m particular interested in seeing how other people are using aggregation models that involve the filtering, listing and – importantly because I think this is where organisations like the BBC can and do add a lot of value – editorialising content that’s being created and published on third party platforms and services. I’d also like to learn from others who have worked directly with the public, encouraging and nurturing their content production skills, in ways that brings value to participants whilst also reaching editorial aims.

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