An interview with Dmitry Shishkin, Digital Development Editor and World2020 Digital@ BBC World Service Group (Languages), about the latest trends in digital content.
- What are the latest digital trends in genre and formats used to inform, entertain and educate?
There are so many – you can’t just say everyone is obsessed with one particular thing. TV channels are interested in augmented and virtual reality, as are news outlets; radio stations – in how to visualise audio and make it socially sharable, news outlets – how to engage your audience in a meaningful way and reach audiences beyond their own filter bubbles.
There is also visual journalism, where data specialists work on projects together with developers and designers. There are also bots and conversational interfaces as well as voice activated services – BBC has always behaved like both a creative and a tech company, ever since its inception as a radio service, all the above activities prepare us for future challenges – we have been always been prepared for a new leap in technology, be it radio, TV, web, mobile, social or whatever comes next.
2- How does digital audience consume content?
You can’t generalise about it – we are as global company and our markers differ greatly, in the same way how Kinshasa’s main square is different from NYC Times square. There are similarities of course – the dominance of mobile news consumption as well as social media one are the main things we consider irrespective what language we do news in.
Also, people’s attention span is shortening, whether we like it or not and that could be a massive problem especially in busy and saturated news markets, you really need to stand out – by your independence, creativity, trustworthiness and relevance.
We also see a strong trend of diversification – the audience doesn’t just want to be updated on what has happened, they demand to know why it happened and what it means for them, so original content, explanatory and solution-based journalism are all at the centre of everything we do.
Fact checking is another really important ares in times where trust in media is generally going down, especially with young people. We also invest heavily in digital video production preparing ourselves for when the markets and audience catch up – we invest in the future.
3- What does it take to be a digital content innovator?
Getting organisational structure right is important – you must allow your team to be able able to do things that are not yet within the mainstream, it’s this 80-20 rule, or perhaps in our case it’s 90-10. It’s important to give your staff an ability to learn and try new things. “Fail fast” has been the slogan of the decade, although I’d add – “but make sure you learn from it too”.
We are all obsessed with data – digital sector is a very honest one, as every bit of your activity and offer is fully measurable hence you are able to be much more demanding and granular in your approach than our TV and radio colleagues can ever be towards their output – we just know so much more about every single thing we publish, audience reaction to it, whether on our own sites or on social media channels, or on the third parties’ syndication platforms.
It’s incredibly important to be nimble and change tactics and sometimes strategy too – that’s why media companies need teams like mine, that connect tech and creative side of operations, look out for new opportunities, experiment with startups – we call ourselves practical strategists of digital media, or strategic practitioners of it – I’ve got the best job in the world.