I am struggling to decide what I think about this. BBC is creating a new video series called BBC Shorts that delivers 15-second videos that summarize the stories of the day.
My struggle starts with the fact that the general public needs some guidance in what news to consume. There are a lot of important things going on in the world that we really need to be better informed about. It is this kind of ignorance that makes us so bad at evaluating important issues like climate change or foreign wars. And if we are ignorant, we are at the mercy of political ads that play on our emotions when it comes time to vote. We also don’t take the personal steps that we should be using to make out society (and our families) safe, fair, and sustainable.
But BBC’s announcement says that they will be creating videos based on what is “trending and popular.” If it is just Buzzfeed by BBC, it will fail to accomplish what I see as being an important role for news media. TMZ maybe, but BBC?
On the other hand, private companies should not be compelled to do what is best for society. I appreciate CSR and the quad bottom line and all that. But that is their internal choice. If they want to chase ratings with these videos, it is not my place to tell them to do otherwise.
But on the third hand, a lot of BBC’s funding comes from the British government. That changes the equation. I am more open to Fox, MSNBC or CNN doing this. BBC may be an exception.
It is having three hands that makes me struggle with it.
Please help me resolve this. A few quick questions:
- Are you interested in selecting from a collection of 15-second videos to get your news?
- Do the news media have any responsibility to help us become a better informed public?
Is your answer to #1 influenced by the fact that BBC gets government funding?