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BBC News Online is the website of BBC News, the division of the BBC responsible for newsgathering and production. The website is the most popular news website in the United Kingdom and forms a major part of BBC Online (bbc.co.uk).The site records around 14 million unique users a week (around 60 to 70% of visitors are from the UK).

The website contains international news coverage, as well as British, entertainment, science, and political news. Many reports are accompanied by audio and video from the BBC's television and radio news services, while the latest TV and radio bulletins are also available to view or listen to on the site together with other current affairs programmes.

BBC News Online is closely linked to its sister department website, that of BBC Sport. Both sites follow the same layout and content options and respective journalists work alongside each other.

The site was named best news website at the BAFTA Interactive Entertainment Awards every year from 1998 until 2001 when the category was withdrawn.

History

The site launched in November 1997 headed by founding editor Mike Smartt. There had already been a special site marking the 1995 Budget, as well as the death of Princess Dianamarker in 1997, but nothing on the scale of the launch of the main site itself.

The original design was created by a team, including Matt Jones, based on designs commissioned from consultancy Lamby-Nairn, and has been redesigned several times mainly to match the visual style of BBC News television bulletins. A major overhaul in 2003, primarily by Paul Sissons and Maire Flynn, coincided with a relaunch of the BBC News Channel (then BBC News 24) and featured a wider page design.

New features were gradually introduced, including the publicising of video content more prominently, and the introduction of live streaming of the BBC News channel.

The site saw its largest redesign on 31 March 2008, with wider centred page designs, clearer links and more of an emphasis on audio/visual content. A new BBC navigation bar was introduced as part of the redesign, as well as a change to the coding responsible for the structure of the site. The increase in page resolution meant more space could be added around content, since more viewers have screen resolutions set to 1024 pixels.

Smartt was later succeeded by Pete Clifton who was subsequently promoted to Head of BBC News Interactive and replaced by the current editor Steve Herrmann.

A restructuring of BBC News starting in 2007 saw the dissolution of BBC News Interactive department; the editorial and management departments joined the new multimedia newsroom along with television and radio news within BBC Television Centremarker; the development and site design teams are based in BBC White Citymarker, both in the White Citymarker area.

Image:BBC news 270499.jpg|The original BBC News website design, 1999Image:BBC news 110901.jpg|BBC News on September 11, 2001Image:BBC news 170805.jpg|BBC News in August 2005 (includes BBCi navbar)

Features

UK/International editions

There are two different editions of the site: a UKmarker edition, which gives prominence to UK stories, and an International edition, which prioritises international news. All articles are archived indefinitely and can be retrieved via searching or by browsing the extensive Special Reports section, which contains collections of articles relating to major news stories. The previous seven days' top stories were formerly available through the Week at a Glance section of the website.

Internet users with addresses originating from the UK are served the UK edition, all others receive the World edition.

As well as pure news articles, the site also contains material to support BBC news, current affairs and factual programmes. The Magazine section contains features prompted by current news stories, as well as a number of regular items within the daily Magazine Monitor blog with various light-hearted sub-sections including 'Caption Competition', 'Reader's Letters', 'Punorama', quizzes and other humorous items.

A forum, Have Your Say, is also a major part of the site, linking with the BBC programme of the same name (see Have Your Say) and promotions on BBC News bulletins. The current system behind the forum was introduced in 2005 to allow or comments to be added to debates and appear in real-time, subject to varying levels of moderation.

A more detailed section of the web site is Special Reports, formerly In Depth. This brings together news articles by theme or incident and also includes many explanatory articles or diagrams.

Since the beginning of May 2007, the BBC News channel has been streamed live on the UK version of the website.

Columnists

BBC News Online has a small number of topic-specific columns written by BBC journalists. Examples include education correspondent Mike Baker's Mike Baker Weekly column and technology commentator Bill Thompson's bill board (formerly bill blog). BBC News Online Science Writer Ivan Noble, diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour in August 2002, shared his experiences of cancer in Tumour Diary until his death on 31 January 2005.

The use of blogs has also grown with correspondents including Nick Robinson, Robert Peston, Mark Mardell, Justin Webb and Evan Davis, amongst others, making use of them to provide updates on the latest news events. The Editors' blog has also seen BBC News editors giving their reasons for editorial decisions, as well as defending criticisms of the BBC. Members of the public are given the opportunity to comment on entries

Embedded video and audio

Embedded video using the BBC Embedded Media Player now accompanies many articles.
The launch of the BBC iPlayer, with the new Adobe Flash based BBC Embedded Media Player in July 2007 enabled BBC News and Sport Online to change the way it presented video content. Previously the site had delivered online video content using embedded RealPlayer video in pop-up window branded as the BBC News Player. From March 2008 the BBC began to gradually introduce embedded video using the EMP into individual news articles and onto the front page. The news player also provides constant live streaming of the BBC News channel via the website. This had previously only been viewable in a separate window.

Real-time information

The site launched a set of semi-official RSS 0.91 syndication feeds in June 2003 and upgraded them to full feed RSS 2.0 in 2008. Each news index has its own RSS feed, including the in-depth sections.

The BBC began providing real-time global user information in June 2006.

In-text links

Beginning on 30 April 2009, some published stories included in-text links, mostly to in-site profile articles on people, locations and organizations.

BBC Newstracker

In 2004 the BBC News website partnered with Moreover Technologies, in a response to the 2003 Graf Report, to provide links from BBC articles to rival publishers. Whilst the BBC does not censor or change results the algorithms used tend to give greater weight to national and international sources over regional or local ones.

Search Engine Optimization

The BBC announced on 19 November 2009 that it was to pay more attention to SEO by extending news headlines.

Criticism

The site is primarily funded by the television licence, paid by all UK households owning a television set, and used to carry no advertising. The World edition has received some subsidy from the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Officemarker through its grant-in-aid to the BBC World Service. This has led to complaints of unfair competition from commercial rivals. Others note that large numbers of international visitors enjoy the site at the expense of the UK public, leading to suggestions that foreign users be shown advertising or charged subscription fees when accessing the site. Proposals to include advertising on the international version of the website were discussed by the BBC Trust in February 2007, but were opposed by BBC journalists, who feared it would weaken public trust in the impartiality of the BBC. In November 2007, the site did start to carry advertising. The advertising consists of large animated banners, which has led to complaints that these make the site's content harder to read.

The impartiality of the Have Your Say forums has been disputed by organisations such as News Sniffer: moderators are accused of sometimes appearing to promote their own agenda.

References

  1. Ten years of BBC News Online Jemima Kiss: Guardian Unlimited. 30 October 2007
  2. The BBC News website is (not quite) 10 years old Martin State: Press Gazette. 30 October 2007
  3. BBC News | Special Reports | Our first 10 years BBC News Online; 13 December 2007
  4. BBC News Interactive's new Editor BBC News Online. 2 December 2005
  5. Newsroom changes Steve Herrmann: BBC News Online. 27 June 2008
  6. Full feeds for every BBC blog Jem Stone: BBC Internet Blog. 13 June 2008
  7. Most popular now BBC News Online
  8. BBC Makes Concession To ‘Unfair Advantage’ Gripes With New Links Push paidContent: UK. 4 June 2008.
  9. Changing Headline Steve Hermann: BBC Internet Blog. 19 November 2009
  10. BBC Wakes up to SEO Sona Web Blog. 22 November 2009
  11. BBC NEWS | Business | BBC's global website to carry ads
  12. BBC NEWS | The Editors BBC News Online


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