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Reach boss hits out at ‘monster’ BBC website

Lloyd Embley 1The editor-in-chief of Reach plc says the BBC website has excerbated the industry’s current problems and prevented it from launching more paywalls.

In a keynote address to the Society of Editors Conference in Manchester, Lloyd Embley, left, described the BBC site as an “all-consuming monster” that made it hard for commercial publishers to compete.

Said Lloyd:  “As an industry we have sleepwalked into a situation which has made it far more difficult than it already was.

“We have allowed our national broadcaster to become the biggest publisher in the country

“How can we compete with the resources thrown at the written word by by the BBC? Broadcasting means moving pictures, spoken words.

“We should never have allowed the BBC website to become the all-consuming monster that it is.”

Lloyd, who is also editor of the Daily Mirror, went on to say that while the BBC website’s coverage of live football on Saturdays was a “must read,” it had prevented commercial publishers from monetising football content.

He said that the Mirror and other national titles could have succeeded in making Saturday afternoon live football coverage a “premium paid content area.”


marc-reevesA regional editor has highlighted the introduction of a black and ethnic minority quota for journalist vacancies as a way of tackling a lack of diversity in his newsroom.

As reported by HTFP in April, Marc Reeves introduced a system whereby 50pc of shortlisted candidates for vacancies at the Birmingham Mail would be from black and ethnic minorities.

Marc, left, has since interviewed 20 candidates for four editorial roles, ten of which were from ethnic minorities, with one BAME reporter subsequently appointed.

He spoke about the scheme during a panel discussion at the Society of Editors Conference on making newsrooms more representative of their communities.

Marc said that of the 35 people in his core team, barely 10pc came from black and ethnic minorities, whereas the population of Birmingham is almost 50pc BAME.

He said: “It is not acceptable for the Birmingham newsroom to be 40pc off that. But the only people who can change this is us.”

Marc said he had had no problem achieving the 50pc quota for interview candidates, saying: “The talent is there.”

He also said the paper was spearheading other initiatives to tackle the issue including reaching out to community groups and schools and encouraging moslem women to consider journalism as a career.

16 comments

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  • November 5, 2018 at 5:09 pm
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    It’s hard to take lectures about digital journalism from the chairman of a company whose entire online outfit is predicated on brainless and dishonest clickbait. Our local ‘Live’ website is a laughing stock because so many of its scoops turn out to be fictitious and based purely on idiots’ Twitter pages.

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  • November 6, 2018 at 12:19 am
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    Laughable. This is coming from a company that has been deliberately running down its print side – which had a captured core of readers that wanted to give Reach money for their printed product, compared to web viewers who don’t – and has been putting all its eggs in one bottomless basket, the web – despite them being warned for years that the free nature of the web is impossible to counter.

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  • November 6, 2018 at 10:59 am
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    Yawn – another anti-BBC rant from a newspaper group boss failing to look in the mirror (no pun intended) and see where they might have gone wrong themselves.

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  • November 6, 2018 at 12:12 pm
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    Usual sour grapes.

    “Nobody wants to click on our stories about ‘what’s your favourite Greggs pasty’ and go to the BBC to read news instead.

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  • November 6, 2018 at 12:23 pm
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    As I monitor the national news websites a few times a day, I have noticed the BBC has increasingly trying to become the Mail Online or Sun websites. Often with a 12-24hr delay as they source free photos, or often just embed a tweet or youtube video. When they lift copy, you’ll often find the attribution at the bottom of the copy, rather than the top where it should be. A quick look at the BBC top stories – Five arrested for a disgusting Grenfell video was posted 45 mins ago. Whereas the Daily Telegraph posted the same story 17 hours ago.

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  • November 6, 2018 at 1:14 pm
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    If “the BBC website’s coverage of live football on Saturdays [is] a ‘must read'”, have a look at what the BBC does and do it better. Job done. You’re welcome.

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  • November 6, 2018 at 1:16 pm
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    Mr Embley, if Reach websites weren’t such ghastly tosh, I might have a tiny bit of sympathy for you.
    But since my regional and local papers’ websites have been replaced by an endless cycle of badly-written recycled clickbait interspersed only by a few rehashed tweets about road crashes from police and bystanders with fuzzy phone photos, I think I’ll pass on any moaning lectures from you, thank you very much.

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  • November 6, 2018 at 2:13 pm
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    lyetownmax – good advice but it will fall on deaf ears. The latest whinge about BBC’s live football is coming from a representative of a media outlet that doesn’t want to send reporters to football matches to save money.

    Go figure.

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  • November 6, 2018 at 2:21 pm
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    I can only echo the sentiment of other posters here. My local Retch website is a ghastly mix of recycled PR fluff and idiot-baiting (“We attended the opening of this entirely unremarkable chain restaurant and you won’t BELIEVE what happened!”…. spoiler alert, nothing happened).

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  • November 6, 2018 at 3:27 pm
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    While the BBC website’s coverage of live football on Saturdays was a “must read,” it had prevented commercial publishers from monetising football content. – He’s absolutely tripping – if the BBC were not there you’d still have local radio, Sky Sports, the clubs themselves and social media all giving content away. (Although a lot of clubs do monetise their content)

    Newspapers have to learn to live in a multi-media landscape they are no longer the only game in town, nor do they have an inbuilt right to their audience. They need to learn some humility.

    Local football picks up a lot of hits for newspapers but if they tried to monetise it they’d soon lose a lot of readers. it’s ok whilst it’s free but the standard of reporting/broadcasting isn’t good enough to compete with the others. Some reporter with his iphone outside a stadium isn’t really good enough to compete with some Youtubers.

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  • November 6, 2018 at 3:58 pm
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    @Jimbledon – Ah, yes, very familiar with those:

    “THIS is why armed police were spotted at Tesco last night…”

    You click it, and it turns out… There were no armed police. It was just one attention-seeking idiot on Twitter who said there were armed police. Yes, there was a police car there – but it was a routine call-out because someone had shoplifted a frozen chicken.

    Earlier this year, our local ‘Live’ website ran a breaking news story which sent the community into a total panic. They reported that our local hospital was ‘on lockdown’ and there were ‘reports of a gunman inside the building’.

    I telephoned the hospital. They were not on lockdown. That was literally all it took to knock down that part of the story. I telephoned the hospital and said, ‘Are you on lockdown?’ And they said no, they weren’t, they were open as usual. Heaven only knows how many A&E patients went somewhere else, further away, because of that inaccurate lockdown story.

    Needless to say, there also was not a gunman on the premises. Once again, that turned out to be the mad wittering of a Twitter idiot, amplified by the terminally gullible staff over at the Live group.

    The ‘Live’ series represents everything that is wrong with modern digital journalism. Take an unverified claim from Twitter and stick a massive, red and white ‘BREAKING NEWS’ banner on it, write, ‘We have reached out to police for a comment’ on the bottom, then blast it all over social media and wait for the hits to roll in.

    Their favourite does seem to be unverified reports of a gunman. We’ve had a gunman at the train station, a gunman at the council building, a gunman at the hospital, a gunman at Tesco – all fictitious. It’s outrageous. Their unscrupulous actions leech hits from their local rivals who actually do things properly, like actually checking whether there is a gunman at the council building before putting it online with a big, flashing ‘breaking news’ banner.

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  • November 6, 2018 at 4:13 pm
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    Actually, I think the fictitious gunmen at Tesco and the train station might have been Newsquest.

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  • November 6, 2018 at 4:49 pm
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    @TwisV

    What an excellent summing up of the ‘not Live’ brand – eveything has ‘live’ updates – usually another tweet and then it simply ends!

    The other one is cordons – endless breaking news items of cordons here and cordons there – no info – reached out to police – then the other titles, often independents like us and / or hyperlocals – publish the actual story maybe later, but accurately – Reach readers must have been glued to the ‘not Live’ Live updates page for hours waiting for the conclusion…

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  • November 6, 2018 at 5:09 pm
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    As an example, the Telegraph’s website costs £2 a week. The BBC licence fee is almost £3 a week and for that I get umpteen radio stations, a rolling TV news channel and quite a few TV stations, plus a website. Few would claim that the BBC is not value for money. If Reach could offer similar value, its website would be very successful. Show us the goods, Mr Embley. The ball is in your court.

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  • November 8, 2018 at 9:22 am
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    I wonder id TwisV is referring to the incompetent and scaremongering coverage of a “lockdown” at a hospital in Bristol. The Bristol Post relied solely on press officers and social media for coverage and never got anywhere near discovering what actually happened. Time was when journalists were ordered by newsdesks to develop reliable contacts with such as the emergency services and health authorities. Not any longer it would seem.

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  • November 8, 2018 at 12:36 pm
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    Akhenaten: don’t be ridiculous. Develop contacts? Why? Social media is one of the most reliable sources of information I know.

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