February 2017 Newsletter

Ritchie Cogan
Ritchie Cogan 1st February 2017


Welcome to IBT’s February newsletter with an update on our work and relevant news from the media industry.    (Download/Print this Newsletter)


New IBT annual report

Today we publish our annual report which covers our work in 2016. We held a number of briefings and training sessions for our members; we published two research reports (Small Screen, Big World which looked at the international content of news on TV and other outlets, and Climate Change on Television which examined media coverage of climate change a year after the all-important UN agreement in Paris) and we lobbied successfully for the strengthening of the global purpose in the new BBC Charter. If you have any questions about our work do get in touch.



This month’s briefing will be with Unreported World

Our next briefing will be with Monica Garnsey, the series producer of Channel 4’s international current affairs strand, Unreported World. This is the one space on mainstream television that guarantees coverage to under reported stories from around the world. Monica will talk about the sort of stories they are looking for and how best to pitch ideas to her and her team. She has worked extensively with NGOs in the past, including many IBT members. The last series of Unreported World was one of the best to date. Now entering its 18th year, Unreported World remains an important part of the Channel 4 schedule but its position cannot be taken for granted. If the channel is privatized Unreported World is likely to be an early victim. The briefing with Monica will take place at 10am on Tuesday February 28th. Spaces can be booked in the usual way via the IBT website.




Last month’s briefing with Today

Our last briefing was with Ollie Stone-Lee, the acting deputy editor of Radio 4’s Today programme. Ollie talked us through how the programme selects stories and how best to pitch ideas or suggest studio guests. They are keen to widen the range of voices that they feature. There is also a big digital push happening at Radio 4 with a dedicated online team promoting Today content across social media. Digital is driving change and giving the production team a clearer insight into the stories that audiences are interested in. International content does well online. Ollie also spoke about the move at BBC News for more so called ‘slow news’ which in practice means a greater emphasis on analysis and an attempt to track big picture changes that are taking place in society but are not reflected in the day to day news agenda. A more detailed note on what was said at the briefing can be found on the members’ page of the IBT website.


Defending aid

A meeting took place at Bond last month, bringing together media officers and others from across Bond’s membership, with the aim of developing a series of joint communications and campaign initiatives for 2017 which proactively make the case for maintaining aid spending. It’s clear that certain sections of the media, most notably The Daily Mail, have the Government’s 0.7% commitment to aid spending in their sights. As a result of the meeting, Bond has now set up a media group to coordinate the response from NGOs. The aim of the group is to ‘defend and put the case for UK aid into the media with increased frequency across all media types.’ The media group had its first virtual meeting earlier this week and a number of sub groups have been set up to look at messaging, research, engagement and strategy.  If you are interested in joining the group contact Hratche at VSO Hratche.Koundarjian@vsoint.org He is running the group in the absence of a Bond media officer.


New IBT research 

IBT is producing a new piece of research to be published in the spring. The main focus will be online video – we will be looking at a range of ways in which video is being viewed online and talking to the key platforms and content producers. The aim of the report is to develop a practical guide for IBT members who are producing online video content. If you’d like to contribute to the research, contact Sophie who is leading on this Sophie.chalk@btinternet.com


Changes at the BBC

In a speech last month Tony Hall, the BBC Director-General, outlined his strategy for the next Charter. A key priority is to reinvent the iPlayer for a new generation. This will inevitably mean more personalization. The thinking behind this, in the words of Tony Hall, is that ‘by finding out more about our audiences and what they like, we can make better content, make it more relevant, and bring it to them more effectively.’ This is of course, a good thing, but there is a danger that audiences will live in a bubble of content they love and be less exposed to content outside their range of interests.



Regulation of the BBC for accuracy and impartiality

From April, the BBC will be regulated by Ofcom and the BBC Trust will be abolished. This is one of the major changes resulting from the new Charter. IBT is in the process of responding to a series of consultations by Ofcom. One issue of contention is regulation for accuracy and impartiality. At present, the BBC is regulated by the Trust for accuracy and impartiality across all BBC content, including online and the World Service. Under the current Ofcom proposals future regulation will only apply to BBC News on radio, TV and on the iPlayer. This is cause for concern and we have suggested to Ofcom that it finds other ways of monitoring the BBC to ensure that it delivers its commitment to accuracy and impartiality across the whole of its output. You can see our submission here:



Fake News

A number of initiatives have been announced by social media platforms and broadcasters to address the issue of fake news. The BBC has launched a new service, Reality Check, which will investigate fake news online and expose it.


At the Today briefing, Ollie Stone-Lee told us that BBC news producers are trying to be more rigorous about fact checking and their use of data, so it’s important that NGOs check carefully any statistics that they supply to BBC News.

Channel 4 has announced a slate of new programmes to be broadcast this month which will also investigate the phenomenon of fake news.




A new report, Newspaper consumption in the mobile age, makes for interesting reading. Its author, Neil Thurman, from City University, examined 11 UK national newspapers and found that they are still largely read in the printed form – 89% of people read a newspaper as newsprint; 7.5% read it on their mobiles; 4% on their PCs. He also found that time spent reading the newspaper is much greater for those reading the paper itself than looking at the content online. The average time spent reading the paper as newsprint is 40 minutes a day; for those reading online the average time spent is 30 seconds. http://neilthurman.com/timespent.pdf


Human Rights Watch film festival

The Human Rights Watch film festival takes place in London next month, from March 6-17. Tickets go on sale next week. The festival opens with I’m Not Your Negro, a documentary charting the history of racism in the US. It closes with Nowhere to Hide, a documentary telling the story of a male nurse living and bringing up his children in the Iraqi city of Jalawla and filmed over several years. https://ff.hrw.org/london


Best wishes



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