#BreakingNews: Can TV Journalism Survive the Social Media Revolution? Royal Television Society Huw Wheldon Memorial Lecture


#BreakingNews: Can TV Journalism Survive the Social Media Revolution?

Social media has changed how news is sourced and delivered. BBC reporter Lyse Doucet asks how TV journalists should harness this new resource.


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Transcript


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The DNA of news is changing.

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Breaking stories now come to us on our phones and our computers

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as well as our TVs.

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Social media is at the heart of all the big stories.

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It's transformed our speed and space for news,

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the way we source, inform and deliver it.

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Now we all have instant access to overwhelming amounts of information.

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How should TV journalists harness this astonishing new resource?

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Or does this social media revolution spell the end for broadcast news?

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APPLAUSE

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Good evening.

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Here is the news as it used to be.

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Here is an illustrated summary of the news.

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It'll be followed by the latest film

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of events and happenings at home and abroad.

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The truce talks in Indo-China went on today.

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It is in a neutral zone here at Trung Gia

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that the talks are being held.

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The Queen received the Right Honourable Sir Anthony Eden MP

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in audience this morning,

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and offered him the post of Prime Minister

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and First Lord of the Treasury.

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Sir Anthony Eden accepted Her Majesty's offer,

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and kissed hands upon his appointment.

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Norwegian television is preparing tonight

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to televise a cabinet meeting with King Olaf presiding.

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Now, that sounds pretty hard to beat,

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but we'll try when you come back to Newsroom later on.

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The Queen has interrupted her tour of Australasia

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for the election formalities.

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While there, she faced noisy demonstrations

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from Aborigine demonstrators demanding equality and land rights.

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That's all for now. The main news on BBC One tonight is at 10:15.

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And this is what news looks like today.

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..there are reports tonight the government is trying to regain the initiative.

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..the streets, and attacked the unarmed protesters.

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CHANTING

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Just go!

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The United States government had absolutely nothing

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to do with this video.

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So let's do this!

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CHANTING

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Over the past few years, there has been a revolution

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in the way we gather our news, the way we tell our stories.

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The stories themselves have been shaped and changed

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by a new generation of citizen journalists and activists.

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They're texting, tweeting, filming, photographing.

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They don't work for mainstream media.

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But they're all involved in this business now

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of sending their news to the world.

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And it's happening not just in countries far away.

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In the London riots in the summer of 2011,

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Twitter, Facebook, BlackBerry Messenger

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were used by the rioters and protesters to gather, to regroup.

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And they were used by citizens to follow or to tell a story,

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or to be the story themselves.

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Social media sites are streaming instant information

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for good and ill.

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Communities are warning each other of trouble,

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but rumours can quickly spread.

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There's also been violence in Nottingham, Leicester

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and other cities.

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The messaging service of BlackBerry phones

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has been commonly used by those intent on disorder,

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because it's private, keeping plans off the police radar.

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Social media have become part of every major story,

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whether it's a tragedy, like the earthquake in Japan,

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or a moment of celebration, like the Royal Wedding.

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News is now breaking at the speed of, well, life.

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How does it happen?

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Well, some of you may already be part of this brave new world.

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If not, here's a short guide for those who are the uninitiated,

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and perhaps, so far, unimpressed.

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Post a tweet that's a message no longer than 140 characters

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it will be seen instantly by all of the people

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who have decided to follow you on the Twitter website.

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And if your followers retweet it, it will be seen by many more people.

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Highlight a subject by putting a hashtag on it,

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people searching by hashtag will see it.

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And if it's really big, in Twitter language,

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you'll be "trending" in other words, making headlines.

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Or set up a Facebook page, and then you can post your own comments,

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your own videos and photographs.

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Or there are special pages - they're known as Facebook groups.

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They're for people who may not necessarily know each other,

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but they share common interests be it politics, protests, pop music, Prince William.

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Whatever it is, it's a space to share and to spread the word.

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And then there's YouTube, the video-sharing website,

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where anyone can upload material so that everyone can view it,

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if they wish, wherever they are.

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Those are just three examples in the fast-changing world of social media.

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And they all work the same.

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Like nuclear reactions, one post can spark off a chain of reposts,

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and they're seen by dozens, thousands,

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millions of people around the world.

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And it happens in minutes, sometimes seconds.

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Welcome to a whole new world of network news.

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So what about us, then?

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Us old broadcast journalists?

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Where do we stand in the midst of a revolution

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where the people have new power?

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We're the leaders, news leaders.

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We're choosing the stories,

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we're filming, recording, editing, broadcasting the news.

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You're the audience, waiting for our news.

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What do we do now?

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Do we take to our television trenches and say,

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"We're bigger and we're better"?

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Or do we say that we're joining forces

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with this social media revolution, and we're all on the same side now?

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Or do we admit defeat

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in this age-old battle to be first with the news?

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The answer, ladies and gentleman,

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is about nothing less than our own survival.

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Back in the day, news was a different kind of business.

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When I covered my first war, in North Africa, in Chad,

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in March 1987,

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I ended up being the only foreign journalist left

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in the capital, Njdamena, when the big battle finally happened.

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The news reached us about midnight that French-backed Chadian troops

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had crushed Libyan forces at the fabled desert outpost of Ouadi Doum.

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Breaking news! I sent it the quickest way possible -

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running as fast as I could to the one place that had a telex machine,

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the State Telecommunications Building.

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But my speed, as it was then,

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was slower than a pack of wild desert dogs lurking in the night.

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So they chased me.

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And one bit me.

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-LAUGHTER

-But that's another story.

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I telexed my war report to London.

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The next day, I was expelled by the government.

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They didn't realise I was still there.

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Or at least they tried to expel me,

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because a sandstorm closed down the airport.

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So that gave them more time to get through to me

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on a crackling telephone line from London.

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So I was interviewed about the war,

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and my dog bite, too.

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Those days are gone.

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I, and many other journalists, both local and foreign,

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are still reporting on wars in North Africa and the Middle East.

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But there's very little chance now

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that there would only be one journalist in a country

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to report on a big battle, big news, anywhere.

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And you don't need much these days to get the story out.

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If you have to, you can do it all with a smartphone -

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this tiny piece of technology, that can film, take photographs,

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tweet, access the internet,

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broadcast live on ISDN-quality lines -

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everything we need to do in the field.

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And that's what my colleague, Paul Danahar,

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our Middle East bureau chief did,

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when he found himself at the scene of a massacre in Syria,

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armed only with a smartphone.

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The observers had been trying for more than 24 hours

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to get into the village of Kabir.

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In the end, the flies found the evidence of the massacre

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before the UN did.

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The first house had been gutted by fire,

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but the stench of burnt flesh still hung heavy in the air.

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The scene in the next house was even worse.

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The UN have come here to try and find out

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what happened in this village, and what's clear already

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is whoever carried out this attack, it was...

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DROWNED BY SPEECH IN ARABIC

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..and moved into the houses like the one I'm standing in now.

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In front of me here are pieces of people's brains on the floor,

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there is a tablecloth covered in blood and flesh,

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and in the corner, the blood has been pushed into a pile -

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someone's tried to clean it up, and frankly, given up,

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because there's simply too much of it.

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In this house and one behind me,

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there are signs of an appalling crime having taken place.

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And if we, the journalists, aren't on the scene,

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there will almost always be someone with the same kind of smartphone,

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who can tweet a thought, a picture,

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upload a video to YouTube or Facebook,

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or whatever social media they serve.

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There may never be another television moment

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like Michael Buerk's exclusive and haunting report

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from the 1983 famine in Ethiopia.

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Dawn, and as the sun breaks through the piercing chill of night

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on the plain outside Korum, it lights up a biblical famine,

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now, in the 20th century.

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This place, say workers here, is the closest thing to hell on earth.

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Thousands of wasted people are coming here for help.

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Many find only death.

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They flood in every day from villages hundreds of miles away,

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dulled by hunger, driven beyond the point of desperation.

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15,000 children here now,

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suffering, confused, lost.

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Some call it one of the most influential pieces of television ever broadcast.

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It provoked a surge of compassion around the world.

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425 organisations broadcast the material,

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and of course, it led to the Live Aid concerts.

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Today's connected world may not lead

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to the same outpouring of generosity,

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as it did after Michael Buerk's legendary story.

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But it's very hard now for anyone to say,

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"I didn't know it was happening."

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But will we still ever - get the story out first?

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And does that mean the end for broadcast journalists?

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A lot of news now is in the hands of the people, quite literally.

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So what is our future when so much has changed and keeps changing?

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To answer that question, let me just tell you a little bit

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about my own journey through social media.

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About three years ago, one of my editors told us,

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"You should all be on Twitter and Facebook."

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I refused. "Too busy.

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"No use to me, no use to my journalism.

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"What could I possibly say in those tiny tweets?

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"Facebook?

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"For teenagers."

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A few months later came my first, let me say, social media moment -

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Iran, June 2009, the presidential election.

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We were sitting in the BBC Tehran office,

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waiting for reactions on the streets to the controversial election results.

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Suddenly, someone called out,

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"People are gathering in Inquilab Square!"

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Like a flash, some of us instinctively headed to the desks

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at the far end of the office.

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The others headed to the sofas in the middle.

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One group was racing to check the latest newswires.

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The others, social media.

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Now, it just happened that most of the people checking social media

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were, let us say, the youngest people in the room.

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LAUGHTER

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And nearly all of them were Iranian.

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And those hunched over their computer terminals

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and much-loved wire services were, yes, people like me.

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But I was quite young then.

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Now, guess who found out first what was happening on the streets?

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I poked my head above the computer terminal and looked across the room,

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and said, "Guys, did you notice that something, um...

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-"generational just happened?"

-LAUGHTER

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But I still wasn't completely sold.

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And yet you couldn't ignore the growing impact of social media.

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Not in a place like Iran,

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not at the time of what was called the Green Revolution.

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The authorities were telling foreign journalists

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that they couldn't go into the streets, they couldn't move freely,

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to cover what they described as "unauthorised gatherings."

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And our visas soon ran out.

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In Iran, social media became virtually the only way

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we could see and be part of what was happening.

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It was activists and bystanders who sent an SOS to the world,

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who went out into the streets and sent 140 characters

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of excitement, of anger, of fear.

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Or dispatched memorable images of defiant crowds,

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clouds of tear gas, running battles on the streets.

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Because of reporting restrictions imposed by the Iranian authorities,

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most of the images coming out of Iran

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have been filmed by demonstrators and put on the internet.

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This video was sent to the BBC. We can't verify its source,

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but it appears to show shooting from a militia base.

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CHANTING

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A BBC editor who monitored what he called, in inverted commas,

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"Twitter's coverage" of those historic days, noted that at one point

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there were anywhere between 200 and 2,500 updates a minute.

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Suddenly, the great advantages and disadvantages were clear.

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Twitter and Facebook gave us a new window on an extraordinary story.

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They didn't just tell us that something was happening -

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they took us inside the heads and the hearts of those making the news.

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It took us inside the stories in a much more intimate way

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than the traditional, detached journalism

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of who, what, when, where and why.

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But were we getting the full story? No.

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Much of it was on one side -

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the opposition to President Ahmadinejad's re-election.

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But then the government got wise and set up its own Twitter accounts,

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and launched its own social media campaign

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to fight what was turning into the biggest news battle in town.

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Now, back to our battles at the BBC,

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and my long-suffering, social media obsessed editor.

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Now he was telling us,

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"Look, if you don't get on Facebook or Twitter...

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"..you should look for a new job, because if you don't get on them,

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"you're not doing your job."

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So many ignored him. But many didn't.

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And I had already decided to put my toes

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in the murky waters of social media.

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I decided that I would use it IF it was useful.

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So what conversation to choose?

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I decided to choose a small, but a very worthy one.

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Afghan women activists were using this weapon

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in their war for greater rights

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as part of the wider war in their country.

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Of course, they were already used to being followed,

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sadly, by intelligence agencies and warlords.

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But now they were being followed by women activists around the world,

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journalists and people who were just interested in their stories.

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There was a vibrant conversation, and I became part of it.

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And then I crossed the border to Pakistan, to my first big story,

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where I used a mobile telephone

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as much as I relied on a television camera.

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It was a story of epic floods tearing across the country,

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from Kashmir to Karachi,

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the worst natural disaster that Pakistan had ever seen.

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In covering this story, we needed to know where the water was flowing,

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where help was needed, what people were saying.

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So I would tweet. "It's pouring rain in Peshawar.

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"The main roads into the city are washed out.

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"#Pakfloods."

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That was the hashtag used by most people following this story.

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Within seconds, someone responded -

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"It's raining in Rawalpindi too.

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"The roads are full of water. Are you coming here?

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"#Pakfloods."

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And from Karachi in the south -

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"It's not raining in Karachi yet. But we hear it will.

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"We're all worried. #Pakfloods."

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Wow. An instant conversation.

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It almost felt like my own personal news channel.

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I felt connected in a totally new way.

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It gave new information and insights

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into the mood of a nation at a time of crisis.

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It let people on Twitter know that the BBC was on the ground,

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covering their story, interested in their stories.

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We were beginning to understand the huge potential

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to communicate directly with audiences

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we couldn't reach otherwise,

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get tipped off about stories, gather information,

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see what other journalists were doing

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even our rivals

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and we could post links to our own stories,

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so our own audiences grew even bigger.

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More and more people who matter to the story

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were joining Twitter and Facebook activists, officials, journalists,

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and people from all walks of life

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who just wanted to join a conversation

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that was both very local and truly global.

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By the time the events that we call the Arab Spring

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erupted in early 2011, many of us were hooked.

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Many of us now say we couldn't have covered these events

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across the Middle East and North Africa and beyond

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if we weren't following the blur of posts

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by activists and the engaged,

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and the tsunami of videos being uploaded.

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CHANTING

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WHISTLING

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SHOUTING

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GUNSHOT

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CHANTING

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There's been a lot of discussion about whether these uprisings

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were in fact Facebook revolutions

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political movements made possible

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by the mobilising power of social media.

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That's another story.

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It's part of a much more complex political story.

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But there's no question that for activists,

0:23:060:23:09

for analysts and correspondents

0:23:090:23:11

following these unprecedented events,

0:23:110:23:14

that the unprecedented power of social media was an essential tool.

0:23:140:23:21

And the conversation is huge.

0:23:210:23:23

Twitter now has some 500 million users worldwide -

0:23:230:23:28

there's some 340 million messages a day.

0:23:280:23:32

But can you always be sure who is tweeting?

0:23:330:23:37

As the cynics say, it could just be a dog,

0:23:370:23:40

or a prankster,

0:23:400:23:42

someone with an axe to grind, someone who's spinning the news.

0:23:420:23:47

And what about that tempting quality of what we call,

0:23:470:23:52

"The story that's too good to check?"

0:23:520:23:56

There have been some momentous mistakes.

0:23:560:24:00

World leaders, including Margaret Thatcher,

0:24:000:24:03

have been pronounced dead more than once.

0:24:030:24:05

And families have been informed

0:24:050:24:08

about the real loss of their loved ones on Twitter first.

0:24:080:24:13

Sadly, that happened in the case of some well-known correspondents

0:24:130:24:17

covering the events of the Arab Spring.

0:24:170:24:20

And sometimes, as it turns out,

0:24:200:24:22

the Twitter personality is not the person you think it is.

0:24:220:24:27

The Gay Girl in Damascus turned out to be a man from the United States.

0:24:340:24:39

My intention was never to hurt anyone.

0:24:390:24:44

In fact, the only intentions I had, besides my own vanity,

0:24:440:24:48

was to draw attention to what I believe are important issues,

0:24:480:24:54

and second, I am somebody who feels guilt a lot.

0:24:540:24:59

And I'm feeling incredibly guilty about hurting people,

0:24:590:25:03

and harming causes that I personally, as a human being,

0:25:030:25:07

believe in.

0:25:070:25:08

Let me tell you my own cautionary tale

0:25:080:25:12

about using someone else's material.

0:25:120:25:15

On one trip to Syria, we arranged to do a live television interview

0:25:150:25:19

with the presidential advisor Bouthaina Shaaban.

0:25:190:25:22

We needed to have the strongest case to put to her,

0:25:220:25:27

so we chose the story of Zainab al-Hosni -

0:25:270:25:31

19 years old, said to be the first woman to die in detention.

0:25:310:25:37

Human rights groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch

0:25:370:25:40

had taken up her case. Zainab's story was horrendous.

0:25:400:25:46

And this is how it appeared on the internet,

0:25:460:25:48

and set off an extraordinary chain of events.

0:25:480:25:51

And I should warn you, some of the pictures are distressing.

0:25:510:25:55

MAN SPEAKS ARABIC

0:26:100:26:13

This was a shocking story of a young woman whose decapitated body,

0:26:270:26:32

limbs detached, was handed over to her family in the morgue.

0:26:320:26:38

Her brother was an activist, and it was said she paid the price.

0:26:380:26:42

This is how CNN covered it.

0:26:420:26:45

And notice how their story is almost completely based

0:26:450:26:48

on amateur video, which they tried their best to verify.

0:26:480:26:53

CHANTING "They killed the Rose, Zainab"

0:26:530:26:56

were the placards carried by dozens of women in the city of Homs,

0:26:560:27:00

protesting her slaughter,

0:27:000:27:03

and chanting for the downfall of the regime.

0:27:030:27:06

Her crime?

0:27:060:27:08

Zainab's older brother, Muhammad, was an activist,

0:27:080:27:11

well-known for leading demonstrations

0:27:110:27:14

and treating the wounded in Homs.

0:27:140:27:16

For months, he had been evading the authorities.

0:27:160:27:19

The family says that the security forces

0:27:190:27:21

demanded Mohammed in exchange for Zainab.

0:27:210:27:24

On September 10th, the family says

0:27:240:27:27

Muhammad was wounded in a demonstration.

0:27:270:27:30

He came back to his loved ones a corpse.

0:27:300:27:34

Tortured to death, they believe.

0:27:340:27:36

The family had just collected Muhammad's body

0:27:360:27:38

from the hospital when doctors told them

0:27:380:27:41

there was a young woman named Zainab's body in the morgue.

0:27:410:27:45

A few days later, they received her mangled remains.

0:27:450:27:48

CNN cannot independently confirm

0:27:480:27:50

the family's account of what happened.

0:27:500:27:54

When I interviewed the presidential advisor in Damascus,

0:27:540:27:57

she didn't deny the story.

0:27:570:27:59

Take one of the most recent examples,

0:27:590:28:01

which Amnesty International has called,

0:28:010:28:03

"The most disturbing case in detention."

0:28:030:28:06

19-year-old Zainab al-Hosni, the first woman to die in detention.

0:28:060:28:10

Her parents found, by mistake, her decapitated body in the morgue.

0:28:100:28:14

How do you explain that?

0:28:140:28:16

Well, there are so many people who have been found maimed and killed, but...

0:28:160:28:19

-But you must know about this case, Dr Shaaban...

-But I refuse...

-You've always stood up for women's rights.

0:28:190:28:24

-I know...

-What do you say to the case of Zainab?

-I refute the accusation

0:28:240:28:28

that it is the government or the country or security people killing these people.

0:28:280:28:32

Who decapitated her and tied her arms, her hands and her feet?

0:28:320:28:35

Well, I can show you ten neighbours of my family in Homs

0:28:350:28:39

who have been killed and maimed and strangled by armed gangs,

0:28:390:28:44

and this is why we need the world to stand with us,

0:28:440:28:47

in order to fight this kind of terrorism.

0:28:470:28:51

Then, a week later, after I'd left Syria,

0:28:510:28:55

this story appeared on Syrian state television.

0:28:550:28:58

SHE SPEAKS ARABIC

0:28:580:28:59

Zainab al-Hosni. Alive in Syria.

0:29:160:29:19

The truth of this story still remains a mystery.

0:29:190:29:24

But videos posted by activists on the internet

0:29:240:29:28

had been enough to persuade many news organisations

0:29:280:29:31

and human rights groups to take up her story.

0:29:310:29:34

So how do we minimise the risks of reporting a story

0:29:340:29:38

which turns out to be wrong?

0:29:380:29:41

The BBC has long relied on what is called UGC -

0:29:420:29:46

user generated content.

0:29:460:29:49

But it's grown from a trickle of videos and photographs

0:29:490:29:53

and audience feedback

0:29:530:29:55

to a tide of material, coming into the BBC,

0:29:550:29:59

or being found out there, on numerous servers.

0:29:590:30:02

Streams of eyewitness accounts from all points of view,

0:30:020:30:05

from all points of the globe.

0:30:050:30:07

To cope with it, the BBC set up an established team of journalists.

0:30:070:30:13

And the UGC Hub was born.

0:30:130:30:15

There was still a lot of scepticism

0:30:170:30:19

about what the value of a hub like this would be,

0:30:190:30:23

but a week after the UGC Hub pilot project was set up,

0:30:230:30:26

the July 7th bombings happened.

0:30:260:30:28

And that completely transformed, I think,

0:30:280:30:31

the way many of us saw the relationship

0:30:310:30:35

between us as a news organisation and our audience,

0:30:350:30:38

because whilst we and many other news organisations

0:30:380:30:40

were still reporting a power surge on the London Underground,

0:30:400:30:43

our audience were telling us

0:30:430:30:44

what was actually happening on the ground.

0:30:440:30:46

We're now a 24/7 team of about 20 producers.

0:30:460:30:51

We can sort of give filters of confidence

0:30:510:30:53

in terms of how accurate or authentic

0:30:530:30:56

we think a bit of content is.

0:30:560:30:58

It's often very difficult to actually get to the source

0:30:580:31:01

of that content creator, and so in these types of situations,

0:31:010:31:05

what we've done is to basically apply a journalistic

0:31:050:31:07

or news assessment.

0:31:070:31:09

And quite often we'll use services like Google Maps

0:31:090:31:13

and Google satellite imagery searches

0:31:130:31:15

to see whether particular locations do match up.

0:31:150:31:18

In addition to that, it's listening out to the sound,

0:31:180:31:22

does it sound like it's authentic audio?

0:31:220:31:23

And then also, does it look like

0:31:230:31:25

there's any manipulation in the video,

0:31:250:31:27

has there been any editing in it?

0:31:270:31:29

All of these things would raise questions.

0:31:290:31:32

I can give you a lot of examples where we've stopped stuff going on air.

0:31:320:31:36

And one particular one that comes to mind was a video

0:31:360:31:39

that appeared to show a man who was being dug into a hole

0:31:390:31:42

and effectively being buried alive by Syrian army men.

0:31:420:31:47

There were other news organisations that were already running it

0:31:470:31:50

or referencing it, but we had some concerns from the outset.

0:31:500:31:53

It just didn't quite look right.

0:31:530:31:55

The sequence didn't look right, and it cut very abruptly.

0:31:550:31:59

Also, the sound sounded too good, it sounded too clear.

0:31:590:32:03

SHOUTING IN ARABIC

0:32:030:32:05

We just weren't confident that this video was accurate,

0:32:050:32:08

so we didn't put it on air.

0:32:080:32:10

Subsequently, a lot of the social media sites

0:32:100:32:12

which had uploaded this video started deleting those videos

0:32:120:32:15

as well, because we started sharing what we knew on Twitter,

0:32:150:32:18

and warning people that this was a video

0:32:180:32:20

that we didn't think was particularly legitimate.

0:32:200:32:23

And it's not just the BBC.

0:32:240:32:26

Every newsroom is now trying to keep up

0:32:260:32:29

with this fast-changing news world,

0:32:290:32:31

struggling to establish ground rules for their own journalists

0:32:310:32:36

posting their own messages.

0:32:360:32:38

We all now work five times harder than we ever did in television before.

0:32:400:32:44

We are blogging, we are writing, we are reporting, we are editing.

0:32:440:32:50

We're tweeting.

0:32:500:32:52

It's a busy old time.

0:32:520:32:53

We do have social media guidance generally,

0:32:550:32:59

which has a few don'ts in it,

0:32:590:33:01

so, for example, we ask staff not to talk about their political opinions,

0:33:010:33:04

not being partisan, not being critical of colleagues,

0:33:040:33:07

not revealing confidential information, and so on,

0:33:070:33:09

but by and large, our aim with it is actually to be as encouraging

0:33:090:33:13

and open as possible, because that's how social media works.

0:33:130:33:17

If you were to simplify it, it's, "Don't be stupid."

0:33:170:33:21

Exercise common sense.

0:33:210:33:23

Think twice before pressing "tweet".

0:33:230:33:25

Keep clear lines between personal use and professional use,

0:33:250:33:29

although sometimes my rants on Scottish football

0:33:290:33:32

do leak over into the personal.

0:33:320:33:33

If people wouldn't say it on screen,

0:33:330:33:36

they shouldn't be saying it on Twitter or Facebook.

0:33:360:33:38

The real danger is that you hear a really fantastic rumour,

0:33:380:33:41

and you spread it.

0:33:410:33:43

I mean, there was a rumour that Piers Morgan

0:33:430:33:46

had been disciplined or possibly even removed from his programme,

0:33:460:33:50

and I tweeted some reference to this,

0:33:500:33:52

and suddenly realised, of course, it was wrong.

0:33:520:33:54

Seriously wrong. Potentially libellously wrong.

0:33:540:33:56

But he was very nice about it and we got away with it,

0:33:560:33:59

but since then I've been much more judicious.

0:33:590:34:01

I suppose the other one is just

0:34:030:34:04

when to break a story and when not to.

0:34:040:34:06

In terms of breaking news, we ask our staff to file it and tweet it

0:34:060:34:12

at least at the same time.

0:34:120:34:14

We've actually built a new system which means

0:34:140:34:17

that we can break news on air and on Twitter simultaneously.

0:34:170:34:20

If it's something that everyone's going to get to in due course,

0:34:220:34:26

if it's the G20 protests or the Arab Spring,

0:34:260:34:29

it would be crazy to wait.

0:34:290:34:31

We need to get it out, and then the rest can follow

0:34:310:34:34

in the programme.

0:34:340:34:35

So...

0:34:380:34:41

Have we broadcasters just become no more than a bunch of tweeters

0:34:410:34:46

and bloggers, just like everybody else?

0:34:460:34:48

Is it just a matter of time before this social media revolution

0:34:480:34:53

topples us from the top of news?

0:34:530:34:57

Survival starts by recognising there is a new news order.

0:34:570:35:02

Now we won't always be first with the news.

0:35:020:35:05

Twitter may get there first.

0:35:050:35:07

Now we won't always get the first compelling videos.

0:35:070:35:11

Facebook or YouTube may show them before we do.

0:35:110:35:16

But it doesn't mean the downfall of the regime,

0:35:160:35:20

our regime, our way of broadcasting.

0:35:200:35:23

Contrary to expectations, during strong social media stories

0:35:230:35:29

like the England riots, Japan's earthquake, Norway's massacre,

0:35:290:35:34

viewing figures for BBC television news actually spiked.

0:35:340:35:40

Strip away this new-fangled technology,

0:35:410:35:45

this incessant stream of information,

0:35:450:35:49

and what is it all about?

0:35:490:35:51

Authority, journalism,

0:35:510:35:55

storytelling.

0:35:550:35:56

Because while everything has changed, nothing has changed.

0:35:560:36:03

In our business, the story and the storyteller still matter.

0:36:030:36:10

They still do. And it's the faces,

0:36:100:36:14

the much-followed, much-appreciated correspondents,

0:36:140:36:17

the best in this business, who have been on our screens

0:36:170:36:21

and in our homes for as long as anyone can remember.

0:36:210:36:26

And the new faces who keep emerging.

0:36:260:36:29

Perhaps there is something that's reassuring,

0:36:300:36:34

a reality check, if you like,

0:36:340:36:37

of putting aside this constantly shifting

0:36:370:36:40

and sometimes confusing kaleidoscope of the internet

0:36:400:36:46

for something more solid, more trusted,

0:36:460:36:50

the programmes and correspondents that have stood the test of time.

0:36:500:36:55

Because speed is only one part of the news.

0:36:550:37:00

Above all, we need accuracy.

0:37:000:37:03

Any broadcaster worth anything at all

0:37:030:37:06

would want to be second with the news and right,

0:37:060:37:10

rather than first and wrong.

0:37:100:37:14

Many reports on Twitter during the Iranian elections

0:37:140:37:19

were just that.

0:37:190:37:20

"Mousavi was under house arrest."

0:37:200:37:23

He wasn't.

0:37:230:37:25

"The election had been declared invalid."

0:37:250:37:27

It hadn't been.

0:37:270:37:29

In a global village awash with information,

0:37:290:37:32

with tweets and blogs and posts and instant video clips,

0:37:320:37:36

who do you trust?

0:37:360:37:38

The people who have to get it right in order to survive.

0:37:380:37:43

And that's what the strong viewing figures for broadcast news are telling us.

0:37:430:37:48

A social media revolution could have signalled the end of broadcast news.

0:37:480:37:56

But instead, it's become its greatest confirmation.

0:37:560:38:00

So how do we keep that trust?

0:38:020:38:04

The best way is to be there -

0:38:040:38:07

on the ground, talking face to face,

0:38:070:38:11

feeling the heat, eating the dust, talking to everyone and anyone

0:38:110:38:17

who can help clarify a complicated story.

0:38:170:38:21

That's journalism.

0:38:210:38:24

Take one of our biggest foreign stories right now

0:38:240:38:27

Syria, now said to be in a state of civil war.

0:38:270:38:31

There have been huge amounts of videos and eyewitness accounts

0:38:310:38:36

from places like the embattled Syrian city of Homs.

0:38:360:38:40

But for me, until I went myself

0:38:400:38:44

to the devastated neighbourhood of Baba Amr,

0:38:440:38:47

I didn't really know just how bad it was,

0:38:470:38:52

and what it felt like to be there.

0:38:520:38:55

And that's what we try to convey to our audiences.

0:38:550:39:00

Someone asked me if this next report, which led the Ten O'Clock News,

0:39:000:39:04

was actually run in slow motion.

0:39:040:39:07

It wasn't. It's just that all of us,

0:39:070:39:09

including the UN monitors we were travelling with

0:39:090:39:13

and our experienced cameraman, Phil Goodwin,

0:39:130:39:16

were holding their breath in the midst of real danger.

0:39:160:39:20

Just notice how slowly we are moving through this neighbourhood.

0:39:260:39:31

The Syrian police and military have left us.

0:39:310:39:34

It's the UN monitors...

0:39:340:39:35

..in an area controlled by the opposition.

0:39:370:39:39

Not a single person is on the streets.

0:39:420:39:45

The area is completely destroyed.

0:39:460:39:49

-But hospitality trumps fear as this woman greets me.

-Salaam.

0:39:510:39:55

I ask her son if he still plays with his friends.

0:39:550:39:58

SHE SPEAKS ARABIC

0:39:580:40:00

He replies, "They're all dead."

0:40:000:40:02

And his father and brothers have been taken away.

0:40:020:40:05

His mother welcomes me into her home, but not the camera.

0:40:050:40:10

SHE SPEAKS ARABIC

0:40:100:40:12

"What can I do but wait for news?", she says,

0:40:120:40:15

"I cry every night and day. I have no man to protect me.

0:40:150:40:20

"No-one to help me."

0:40:200:40:22

And then soldiers interrupt us, uninvited.

0:40:230:40:27

They say they're worried about my security.

0:40:270:40:30

As I'm ushered out, I worry about hers.

0:40:300:40:33

We've seen and heard so many terrible stories

0:40:340:40:39

about how Syrian children are being targeted, terrorised and tortured in this war.

0:40:390:40:46

But it's still the stories, told by trusted storytellers,

0:40:460:40:51

that have the greatest impact. Reports like Ian Pannell's,

0:40:510:40:55

with Darren Conway's sensitive filming, from northern Syria,

0:40:550:40:59

that I and many other viewers won't forget.

0:40:590:41:02

This is where some of the artillery landed.

0:41:060:41:08

It's difficult to see what the value of the attack was.

0:41:080:41:11

As far as we know, no fighters were staying here.

0:41:110:41:15

Just six boys sleeping in this bedroom when the shell hit.

0:41:150:41:20

HE SIGHS

0:41:200:41:21

And so, another father mourns...

0:41:210:41:24

HE SPEAKS ARABIC

0:41:240:41:26

..as the innocent suffer the most.

0:41:270:41:29

One of Mohammed's sons is now dead.

0:41:300:41:32

The others are injured.

0:41:320:41:35

We were taken to see the boys, wounded and in hiding.

0:41:350:41:39

The family say they can't take them to the hospital for treatment,

0:41:390:41:42

afraid they'll be arrested if they do.

0:41:420:41:46

The rebels say this is why they fight,

0:41:460:41:50

but in a deadly cycle, so the bloodshed only grows.

0:41:500:41:53

HE SPEAKS ARABIC

0:41:540:41:57

Eight-year-old Rayan struggled to tell his story.

0:41:570:42:00

HE SPEAKS ARABIC

0:42:000:42:02

"The Syrian army did this to me," he says.

0:42:060:42:08

The rebels vow revenge.

0:42:090:42:11

Stories like that must be told.

0:42:170:42:20

But it's not always easy or safe to be there on the ground.

0:42:200:42:24

More and more journalists, local and foreign,

0:42:240:42:28

are being killed on the job. There are times, and places,

0:42:280:42:33

where we simply cannot be where it's happening.

0:42:330:42:36

In these cases, social media can be our ally, not our enemy,

0:42:360:42:41

in trying to tell all sides of the story -

0:42:410:42:44

as long as we're careful.

0:42:440:42:46

And it's important in another sense.

0:42:460:42:50

Because this social media revolution,

0:42:500:42:52

like all of the revolutions we've been reporting on,

0:42:520:42:55

is in a sense about democracy.

0:42:550:42:58

Journalism is no longer an exclusive club

0:42:580:43:02

enjoyed and practised by the few.

0:43:020:43:04

We now cohabit a much wider, a more open space.

0:43:040:43:09

We keep an eye on social media,

0:43:090:43:11

they keep an eye on us.

0:43:110:43:13

And that's not such a bad thing at a time of ever greater scrutiny

0:43:130:43:17

of media ethics and practices.

0:43:170:43:19

The social media revolution also empowers the audiences.

0:43:190:43:23

We hear from you immediately, and you expect to hear from us.

0:43:230:43:27

We broadcast your comments and your criticism.

0:43:270:43:31

It's part of our coverage.

0:43:310:43:33

Our monopoly on delivering the news has been broken.

0:43:330:43:38

There's always been a saying in our business

0:43:380:43:40

"You're only as good as your next story."

0:43:400:43:44

We have to keep confirming that we should be watched and listened to

0:43:440:43:49

for our editorial judgment, for our talent to inform and entertain,

0:43:490:43:55

and because you still trust us.

0:43:550:43:57

The history of television news has been written on a canvas

0:43:590:44:03

of ever-changing technology, ever-growing threats,

0:44:030:44:07

ever greater opportunities.

0:44:070:44:09

And now it's confronting a challenge so great,

0:44:090:44:14

it seems to threaten the end of broadcast news.

0:44:140:44:19

But in this revolution of social media,

0:44:190:44:24

we can be on the right side of history.

0:44:240:44:28

But only if we approach this story

0:44:280:44:31

the way we do all the rest of our news

0:44:310:44:34

by trying to understand it,

0:44:340:44:37

by trying to get it right.

0:44:370:44:40

Thank you.

0:44:410:44:43

APPLAUSE

0:44:430:44:45

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

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The DNA of news is changing. Breaking stories come to us on our phones and computers as well as our televisions. Social media like Twitter and Facebook have transformed the speed and manner in which our news is sourced and delivered.

In the annual Royal Television Society Lecture, BBC reporter Lyse Doucet, who has reported from Syria, Iran and Afghanistan, asks how TV journalists should harness this astonishing new resource - or does the social media revolution spell the end for broadcast news?


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