Home > Future of Journalism, Online Journalism > The Blog is at the core of everything I do – BBC Journalist Robert Peston

The Blog is at the core of everything I do – BBC Journalist Robert Peston

Just read a nice piece from Alfred Hermida – Professor of Journalism at UBC, and ex BBC Multimedia Journalist – from August 2009 on How Blogs became part of BBC News.

In his post, he references a presentation by Robert Peston, the BBC’s Business Editor, on the Future of Media and Journalism. It’s an interesting presentation, but here’s my favorite part. Quoting Peston:

For me, the blog is at the core of everything I do, it is the bedrock of my output. The discipline of doing it shapes my thoughts. It disseminates to a wider world the stories and themes that I think matter. But it also spreads the word within the BBC – which is no coincidence, because it started life as an internal email for editors and staff. It gives me unlimited space to publish the kind of detail on an important story that I can’t get into a three minute two-way on Today or a two-minutes-forty-seconds package on the Ten O’Clock News.

It connects me to the audience in a very important way. The comments left by readers contain useful insights – and they help me understand what really matters to people. That is not to say that I give them only what they want. I retain an old-fashioned view that in the end the licence fee pays for my putative skills in making judgements about what matters. Most important of all, the blog allows me and the BBC to own a big story and create a community of interested people around it. Sharing information – some of it hugely important, some of it less so – with a big and interested audience delivers that ownership and creates that committed community.

As a Business Architect for a large Canadian publishing company, I’m not sure the Blog format has quite this prominence for our Journalists and their audiences. But it is most certainly, to my mind, where we must move, and quickly.

A couple more quick snippets from the interview, on the changing world of today’s journalist:

For men – usually men of a certain age – there is no greater pleasure than watching the Dutch football team of the 1970s, total football. The point about that Dutch team, but especially the inspirational captain, Johan Cruyff, is that all of them could more or less play in every position. And my argument is that hacks like me increasingly have to become total journalists.

When I started in journalism, I wrote one or two stories a week on a clunky mechanical typewriter – it was the last century but it really wasn’t that long ago. Now I write up to five or six blogs in a single day, I broadcast on the Today programme, the Ten O’Clock News, as the broadcasting pillars of my output – and up to 20 or so other channels and programmes in a single day.

Certainly my strong advice to any young person thinking of becoming a journalist is to acquire all the skills, don’t think of themselves as wanting to be broadcast journalists, or radio journalists or print journalists: increasingly it’s all the same thing. What matters is what has always mattered – the facts, the story. The skill for a journalist is unearthing information that matters to people and then communicating it as clearly, accurately – and if possible as entertainingly – as possible.

For additional insight into the emergence of blogging at the BBC, please see:


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