You can see why that might cause disquiet at Sky because that sharing, collaborative culture is at odds with the fiercely competitive ethos of its newsroom – and every other worth its name. Why should Sky journalists promote stories broken by rivals, and why should they use Twitter as a platform for breaking news when their employer has poured huge sums into reaching audiences via satellite?
And these are questions that we debate all the time at the BBC too. As someone who was an early Twitter adopter – and an evangelist for its usefulness as a tool for journalists – I have on occasion been involved in discussions about how our social media policy should be framed.
But tonight for me marks a milestone that I’ve expected for a long time – perhaps it had already passed and I’d not noticed, but tonight is the first time that I have heard it with my own ears:
Last week BBC Radio 4 trailed and broadcast a production of Michael Morpurgo’s Private Peaceful – presumably in the wake of Morpurgo’s War Horse, and in anticipation of an upcoming movie production of Peaceful – and from the coverage and broadcast slot one can only assume that it was a big production of which they are immensely proud; I have not listened to it myself yet, but I may.
However: tonight they ran a trailer, and essentially said: in case you missed it, Private Peaceful is available for download from the BBC website, now with extra binaural widgetry.
And that is it: they trailed a programme that they had already broadcast – and from what I caught were not planning to immediately broadcast again anytime soon – and were essentially advertising something only available online in a prime (“PM”) slot.
It could all be a vast experiment on their part, but for me this is the crack in the dam – the move from broadcaster to content-producer, and the start of a drift away from scheduling; the internet doesn’t care that it’s 6pm on a saturday evening and it’s therefore time for Dr Who – all they want to know is how the story progresses and whether the next chapter is out.
Scheduling won’t die – but it will become as artificial as the 140-character limit in Twitter, something honoured in the breech; but maybe Pick of the Week will have to become Pick of the Month, or Best of the Feeds, or somesuch.
And as for news coverage… why should we wait for 6pm? Perhaps BBC News 24 will start aggregating and streaming stories to Twitter, instead of the onscreen ticker…