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Lessons learned from the BBC's global editorial transformation

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Lessons learned from the BBC's global editorial transformation

This past Wednesday, Shishkin joined us for an lively and enlightening WAN-IFRA webinar to discuss the massive expansion project that he and his teams at the BBC World Service have been working on to add 12 languages to the 28 they were already working with.

Approximately 50 attendees joined us live from around the world and the recording of the webinar can be accessed here for those who were unable to join the live presentation.

Here are our takeaways from the Webinar "Lessons learned from BBC's global editorial transformation,” with Dmitry Shishkin:

Dmitry ShishkinDmitry ShishkinBroaden the agenda

Shishkin said adopting an editorial approach that satisfies six distinctive user needs has been a great success for the BBC World Service. These are the needs:

  • “Update me”
  • “Inspire me” 
  • “Amuse me” 
  • “Educate me”
  • “Keep me on trend” 
  • “Give me perspective” 

He also pointed out the huge importance of attracting female audiences and creating content that is relevant to them, given that many news websites around the world are heavily skewed male in their coverage.

Make data-informed decisions

While news organisations shouldn’t be dictated by data, it’s important to use these insights to inform editorial decisions and understand why stories perform well and, more importantly, why some stories don’t. Relying on the experience of their East Asia growth editor, BBC Thai started publishing fewer but more valuable stories, leading to an uptick in weekly unique browsers even though the number of stories produced per week was cut by nearly half.

Decentralise the creative process

Instead of a single central visual journalism team catering to all bureaux, the BBC World Service created a network of teams around the world. Consisting of a designer, a developer and a visual journalist, each team satisfies the needs of several bureaux at any given time, with content being distributed across all other teams if necessary. 

Make use of automation

Introducing automation processes, especially in larger organisations, can simplify workflows and free up journalists’ time, allowing them to focus on more valuable tasks. An example is the Stitch Reversioning System, used by BBC World Service bureaux, which allows journalists to easily create versions of subtitled videos in various languages.

Past posts

In addition to the webinar, Shishkin has been a speaker at WAN-IFRA events and also a guest writer on our blog. Below are some related links that we have posted both by and about him.

Shishkin also recommends a post he wrote on LinkedIn:


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2018-03-23 15:05

Author information

The World Editors Forum is the organisation within the World Association of Newspapers devoted to newspaper editors worldwide. The Editors Weblog (, launched in January 2004, is a WEF initiative designed to facilitate the diffusion of information relevant to newspapers and their editors.

© 2020 WAN-IFRA - World Association of News Publishers

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