“Behind the Scenes”: how we make media @ the BBC

I’m working on a new project and in the early phases of scoping what it might be. It’s been described formally like this:

The Director-General informed the Trust that he has commissioned a major new online project which will enable the public to explore how contemporary media content is produced. The BBC believes this will be a major contribution to media literacy in Britain.”

So I have been looking at what other organisations are doing, and what BBC people (past and present) are already doing by way of talking to audiences about how they make what they make.

I’m tagging what I find on the internet on my delicious stream. Current told us how to make media from the start. Four Docs from Channel 4 is also telling you how to make but also asking you to comment.

On the media is from NPR and they say ” For one hour a week, the show tries to lift the veil from the process of “making media,” especially news media, because it’s through that lens that we literally see the world and the world sees us”

I like MediaShift by Mark Glaser at PBS. Recently he interviewed Patrick Ruffini on the use of mobile and social media in the US by Presidential candidates. And while this post is not about how we make media, it is about how media shapes our lives which is the media literacy part of the project. Looks like he has started a new area called IdeaLabs whose tagline is “Reinventing community news for the Digital Age”.

I see that Dan Gillmor is writing there, about bringing entrepreneurial thinking and behaviour to the creation of new journalism projects, though not from Beijing where I think he is right now!

In my next post I’ll describe more what we are already doing at the BBC and how some research conversations are already leading to people talking more, and showing more, about what we do “Behind the Scenes” which is the working title of the project. Alright it’s not very original. But it does what it says on the tin. Also how other people talk about us and what we are up to.

But I’d love to hear about what else is going on in this area. Who’s doing what? And any ideas about what you’d like to know about too.



Filed under bbc, bbc blog network, Behind the Scenes, channel 4, Current, innovation, media, media literacy, npr, pbs

4 responses to ““Behind the Scenes”: how we make media @ the BBC

  1. Looks like a great project … and I wonder if you could include “what used to be the audience” from the start by running a co-design workshop to plan out your explorations?
    – do some initial research and come up with first ideas on project activities
    – run a workshop with core people you have identified to get more ideas and prioritise
    – see if people will make it a collaborative exercise by continuing to blog or otherwise contribute

    So instead of research -> formulate -> engage -> review -> implement
    you try
    research -> co-design -> co-explore -> co-create


  2. Dear Lucy,
    Here at Polis at the LSE we are working on a whole range of media change and media literacy projects. Many of your collegues have taken part in our seminars looking at the future of news.
    My book on networked journalism, SuperMedia, comes out next month and in May we will host another forum.
    Check out our website:
    http://www.lse.ac.uk/polis or my blog at http://www.charliebeckett.org
    I have just posted about a ITV newsroom vlog that might interest you,


  3. It’s a good idea but it seems like it would be difficult to really give an honest picture, warts and all – particularly if it is being done by in-house staff. Rather than asking people what the challenges are that they face in making programming (which they will tend to answer in general, waffly ways), crews should shadow ‘content producers’ and talk to them about problems and issues as they happen.


  4. Thanks David (Wilcox)- co-creation, and participatory design are principles many of us know and love. In my personal media history as a producer in the early days of Channel Four I specialised in working with groups of people to make the programmes they wanted to make so I am no stranger to these principles. I worked through a period, even then, when people started to make more and more content themselves and yes, participatory media was alive and kicking in those days on TV. To clarify I am working with Vision and Audio Music (rather than for my home department FM&T) to scope this project and all I will produce is recommendations at this stage. I am pretty keen on collaboration myself – and there are many ways to do that – but rest assured I am very familiar with all these concepts!

    Thanks Charlie for the link – I hadn’t seen it, it shows what some simple footage can add in terms of understanding something of the crew’s life in Afghanistan and will pass on to colleagues. I won’t be looking so much at News as the excellent Editors Blog at http://www.bbc.co.uk/theeditors is, in my personal opinion, streets ahead of some areas of the BBC (although the Sports Editors and the Internet Blog o a good job too) in terms of talking to the public about how decisions are made. I have so nearly come to many of your events, particularly when I worked at the World Service Trust last year, and I am keen to remedy that situation by actually coming along.

    And to David (Brake), it looks like you have a pretty concrete idea of what we will be doing or not doing? Not quite sure what to make of the idea you have that in-house staff would find it difficult to be honest but I will take your suggestion to mean in a positive way that you feel specific information will be more interesting or useful than generic information. Having worked myself in the Independent Sector I think it is fair to say that people who work at the BBC, say Producers, have less opportunity to speak to the public than their Indie counterparts – unless they are invited to speak on a Festival platform or have a personal blog – and for me, at least, that is an interesting phenomenon. Lifting the lid on how we make our shows or other content should produce quite a diverse set of outcomes, and later I will be writing about what we already do.


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