• Mainly about engagement and collaboration using social media and events, with some asides on living in London. More about David Wilcox and also how the blog started.
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It's a valid question.

Isn’t the short answer that in the BBC’s case, trustees should continue to listen to as many opinions as possible, and conduct as many conversations as they can manage.

The previous snappy answer was written at the last minute after my fingers wore out typing a more lengthy answer. Since you’ve scrolled down far enough to read the second comment, I’ll not let my scree of typing go to waste!

> But what should the trustees do when those producing the services open up a direct conversation with their customer/beneficiaries?

In a sense, there's always been a direct conversation with the audience (I'll stick to that term for now, since the number of licence fee content collaborators is still pretty small - though rising). If you like or dislike something, you've always been able to phone or write in to make your point, or raise a more official complaint. And it can be quasi-two-way when a response is received. Not just true for the BBC - people haven't ranted and raved to their local ITV stations for decades too.

Is that a conversation? Perhaps not a very good one. But is one that the Trust have some visibility of.

The kind of conversation on the BBC editors' blogs isn't massively two way either. Other than clarification on the oops with the Linux figures, and success is getting the owl reversed on the BBC Internet blog, there haven't been a lot of BBC responses in the comment section.

Is the blogosphere representative of the UK audience? I hardly think so. Majority male, tendency towards being young, more folk in the media, IT and academic worlds than any other. So someone needs to converse with those not yet living in our online bubble.

Although commenting personally, I should come out at this stage of this particular conversation as someone appointed to the BBC's Audience Council for Northern Ireland - a group of licence fee payers advising the Trust on local (as well as national) issues, responding to Trust consultations, asking the BBC executive for comment, surveying, consulting with and sometimes just chatting to other members of the audience and stakeholder groups (independent producers, politicians, school children).

Now I haven’t yet noticed any 8 year olds on any of the nations’ Audience Councils, and I haven’t noticed too many 80 year olds either! So just like the participants in the BBC’s editorial blogosphere we’re not statistically perfect. But we do recognise and take on the responsibility of representing those not in the room, seeking out their views and feeding them into the Trust’s wider conversations.

And taking advantage of the online public square to pick up opinions as well as to road test arguments and test the credibility of viewpoints prior to making formal submissions is a very good addition to the existing tools of audience engagement.

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