Adam Westbrook // ideas on digital storytelling and publishing

1 in a 1000

Posted in Uncategorized by Adam Westbrook on January 21, 2007

“Hi is that Max?”

“Yes it is.”

“Hi Max, it’s Adam from BBC Coventry and Warwickshire. How are you?”

“….not too good considering a tree’s just crushed my car.”

That’s how not to brief a guest just before you put them on air.  I was working to the Drive Programme on BBC Cov & Warks and the weather, not for the first time, was making the headlines.

The day’s planning for the programme had been pushed aside in light of the falling trees, powercuts and general chaos caused by last weeks 99mph winds. And it was a great example of local radio reacting to a breaking news story. We were getting dozens of calls from listeners, all eager to tell us what the situation down their road was like, all interacting with the station.

It was an exciting end to an interesting few weeks seeing BBC Local Radio in action. I was regularly impressed by the ideas and creativity that came out of the daily meeting (I’ve decided an ideas meeting is a must in any newsroom) and above how in touch the station was with it’s patch.

Rather than wait for news to come in via councillors, press releases and the like, there’s a real effort to get out and react to what the listeners care about.

BBC Coventry and Warwickshire open centre in actionThe studios in Priory Place, Coventry contain an Open Centre – a new idea in local radio. It’s a wireless hub, cafe and computer classroom all in one and it tries to encourage people to come in even just for a drink. Seeing as many people don’t know where the studios of their local stations are I think this is excellent.

Most impressively, Coventry’s pioneering a citizen journalism scheme called Citizen 1000; The aim is to recruit 1,000 citizen journalists to come and report for the station – whether by phoning in with a story, doing a film review or talking about sport.

Within it’s first three weeks of launching, several CJ’s had phoned in with tip-offs and these became stories that no other rival would get.

That’s absolutely brilliant, and this symbiotic relationship between local radio and local community is something the BBC (and commercial rivals) should seize upon right away.

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