Monthly Archives: January 2011

The BBC Online Cuts: Where, When, Why?

Originally posted on General Musings of an Idiot.

As some of you may have read in the news this morning, the BBC Online budget is being cut by 25% as part of the bigger cuts they are making to the whole of the corporation, to the tune of 20%. Not only that, but 360 jobs will be lost as well. As someone whose dreams and aspirations of becoming a BBC Sport journalist now hang in the balance, I just wanted to write my bit and see who reads it.

With the use of Facebook, Twitter, Google’s new Instant Search feature, and social media, the minute I hit ‘Publish’, my newly-created blog is hammered across 190 different countries, 7 different continents, and ends up on your screen. And it’s this social media that has, ultimately, led to many features being involved in the cull at the BBC.

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The budget cuts announced in October, affecting the whole country and taking £84b out of the funding available to public bodies, had to affect the BBC in some way at some point. Mark Thompson, the Director-General, chose to accept the suggestions of a 6-year license fee freeze, leaving a 16% gap in real-term funding over that period, and a £34m funding windfall. Which means these cuts were going to have to happen at some stage as it is.

So, the news this morning didn’t come as a huge shock, but what the cuts actually are did.

As it stands at this very moment, there’s around 400 different BBC-affiliated websites – from BBC Sport, BBC News, BBC Bitesize, all the way through to BBC History, BBC Jobs and BBC Religion & Ethics. Oh, and obviously the relevant TV and radio sites.

To cut the wheat from the chaff of all these cuts, the BBC will be removing around half of these websites. 180, to be precise. This includes BBC Blast, BBC RAW, BBC h2g2 and BBC Video Nation too. Video Nation is something I hold very close to my heart – it was my first contact with the BBC. I made a few videos for them, had to sign 25-page contracts – the lot. My ‘agent’, if you were, was Ian Stringer, who later appeared on the fourth series of the Apprentice. Little fact for you there.

Anyway, alongside these cuts will be the closure of BBC Switch and the 606 messageboards, which have a cult status amongst sports fans. There’s been a lot of backlash towards this already, but, as mentioned on other blogs and sites, the up-rise in Twitter, and Facebook (see how this all links?), have killed off these messageboards. The majority of discussion now links through Twitter – all live text commentaries and blogging services now have access to some form of Twitter links.

Even more cuts take place with major radio programming – 1Xtra, 5 Live Sports Extra, 6Music and Radio 7 will all now have automated content filling their sites. All this chopping and changing also means that there will be fewer individual news blogs, the vast majority of forums, messageboards and communities will be replaced by social media feeds, sport coverage will be cut back, as will entertainment news, and there’ll be no more non-news coverage for local sites. However, there’ll be an increase in culture and arts coverage… Cutting sport – what the Government are trying to increase in this country – for some more coverage on the West End. Now that seems a little strange.

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But what does this all actually mean for the sites we love and care about? Well, I can tell you a little more about the BBC Sport website, as Ben Gallop’s editorial blog brilliantly explained earlier.

There will be an increase in ‘fast, reliable and in-depth sports news, and more dynamic coverage of the biggest sporting events.’ Increasing these means a loss of other areas – 5 key areas, in fact. Obviously, the aforementioned 606 will be cut, as will the Sport Academy website and the sports news bulletin that features on the site. Also, there’ll be less minor sports coverage, and a re-focus on core coverage, rather than games, which were scrapped last summer.

These changes will start in the spring, and should be in place by the end of the summer. Sad, but a glimpse of what our country is currently suffering.

But that’s just BBC Sport. The overall goal, as explained on Erik Huggers’ blog earlier, is to ‘do fewer things, better‘. A brilliant tagline that explains everything so much better than anything anyone can write. The new strategy sets out 10 separate ‘products’ – different sections of the BBC that will be built upon and around each other. These include News, Sport, Weather, CBeebies, CBBC, Knowledge & Learning, Radio & Music, TV & iPlayer, the homepage, and the recently-updated Search feature. The graphics that feature below explain these changes a lot easier, and are a great resource to demonstrate what the BBC’s ultimate goal is.

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These changes plug the £36m funding gap, and will take place before 2013/14. Over 26m people access the BBC website a week now – it’s the 45th most accessed website on the internet. These changes and cuts will affect every one of these users in some way, but fundamentally, the message the BBC is trying to convey throughout these cuts is that although it looks bad, it is for the best, and the BBC will remain as the most-trusted, highest-quality media outlet we all have come to love.

This blog has obviously taken a little while to write, with the masses of coding that has to be put in to get all the right links working. But, if you want some other great articles regarding the cuts, have a look at Jemima Kiss’ take on it all on the Guardian website, or just follow Lewis Wiltshire on Twitter – he is the Editor of the BBC Sport website, and always has the relevant articles to hand when it comes to great journalism from the BBC.

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Do You Care?

Originally posted on General Musings of an Idiot.

I sat down tonight to write something, but couldn’t think of anything to write. Nothing – my mind was just blank.

Until it hit me.

Last night, we were out and stayed the night in Harpenden. It was late, but we started watching ‘A Single Man‘, the film directed by Tom Ford, with Colin Firth, that was up for a lot of awards last year. I’d seen it before, and really enjoyed it, but everyone else thought it was a bit odd.

For those of you who don’t know what it’s about, it’s the love story of a gay man and how he handles the death of his long-term boyfriend. Bearing in mind it is set in 1962, there were no gay slurs, which in some ways, shocked me. The whole film shows homosexuality in such a good light, and it was warming.

But this is where my lightbulb turned itself on above my head. What can I write about?!

Last October, I was touched enough by an organisation in the States called The Trevor Project to write a blog all about the wonderful work they do. They campaign for LGBT rights – or equality for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender individuals, and campaigning to stop the homophobic bullying.

‘A Single Man’ is only the second film I’ve seen that shows gay people in a good light – that they’re not filthy, dirty or wrong to society. That’s not the attitude the majority of the world’s population take, but it is the one the media portrays.

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The Trevor Project have the backing of major celebrities – both straight and gay – and this is why it’s really taken off the last year or so. With the abolition of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in the States, President Obama showed that there was hope.

Along the way, we’ve all used language that we only mean in a humorous way, in a way that allows for people to express themselves and for others to take the mick. It’s how the world works – I take the piss out of you, so you have the right to take the piss out of me. As long as it’s not personal, or hurtful, I couldn’t care less! But words like ‘gay’, ‘poof’, ‘dyke’ – they’re very sensitive words. Everyone uses them now in this society in a derogatory manner, which is helping bring the youth of today up in a world filled with homosexual hatred. You see people sue and take action when someone uses the N-word, so why not any of these? Yes, use them if you are taking the mick, and you know what you’re saying around whom, but don’t mean them.

Its something I feel very strongly about – I agree to equal rights to all. Black, white, rich, poor, gay, straight, male or female – we’re all human beings, at the end of the day. If we weren’t all unique, what’s the point in the world?

We all know that the only way forward is to give everyone the rights they deserve. I dunno, maybe 2011 is the year this is all put into action, but the world needs to change to accept those most in need.

We raise money for the third-world countries in Africa and Asia, because we care. We help countries around the world in need, because we care. We give to charity, because we care. We protest for things we think are right, because we care. We want a better world, because we care.

We want equal rights for all, because we care. We want to live in a society where we can walk down the street with a group of friends – one Muslim, one gay, one poor and on benefits, and we want to be able to smile, and know that no matter who we are, or what we look like, or what the colour of our skin, or our race, or our religion is, we can make a difference.

So here is your opportunity to make a difference. I’m not telling you to go to a protest, or to join a Facebook group, but I’m asking you to do one very simple thing.

Care. Because if you don’t help make the difference now, the world will remain open to some, but not all.

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Food Revolution #123 – Chicken Karahi

Originally posted on My Food Revolution.

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That’s a curry, to me or you. Was beautiful – the mint and ginger really came through. Went down well with a bottle of beer. Or two. Maybe three…

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