BBC To Launch ‘Democracy Live’ Political Webcasting Service

Dan Jellinek

BBC To Launch ‘Democracy Live’ Political Webcasting Service.

The BBC is to launch a political webcasting platform known as Democracy Live, Helen Boaden, Director of News at the BBC, told delegates at Headstar’s E-Democracy ’08 conference in London this month.

The site “will offer live and on-demand video from all the main UK institutions and the European Parliament. Users will be able to search across the video for representatives and issues that are relevant to them. They will be able to find out more about their representatives in the institutions and follow their contributions,” Boaden said.

The site will also provide information on how the institutions of UK government work and what powers they have, as well as providing a resource of must know information concerning the issues in the news. “And while this will make for a compelling mix on the site, we also want it to be a shareable resource, with video and text content that users can take and place on their own sites or blogs,” she said.

In her keynote speech, Boaden focused on the role of citizen journalism enabled by new technologies in a modern democratic free press.

“Today, and increasingly in the future, audiences want the news at the time they want it; on the platform most convenient to them and tailored to the subjects or agenda they find most appealing…and for audiences who want to join in, that means including them in the process of making the news.”

The London tube bombings of July 2005 brought the realisation that news gathering had changed forever, she said. It introduced citizen journalism on an unprecedented scale fuelled by the use of mobile camera and video phones. Within 24 hours of the attacks, the BBC had received 1,000 stills and videos, 3,000 texts and 20,000 e-mails.

The technology also gives organisations like the BBC footage that would be difficult to obtain otherwise, for example the BBC is barred from entering Burma but when the protests erupted last year they were bombarded by emails, pictures, texts and video from citizens observing the events. The importance of user-generated content (UGC) is now reflected in the creation of the UGC Hub –“a seven-day, 24-hour operation at the heart of our newsroom”.

Boaden’s speech is available in full on the BBC editor’s blog: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/theeditors/2008/11/the_role_of_citizen_journalism.html

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