People really sometimes fail to appreciate that banking, travel, shopping – all of these sectors have already done the digital transformation. Media, somehow, thinks that we are separated, but, actually, we are not. We are just yet another sector which needs to apply digital transformation, the BBC World Service Digital Development Editor Dmitry Shishkin explains.
Dmitry is responsible for developing and implementing the BBC’s digital editorial offer for all 28 non-English foreign language news services, including a project in the Serbian language that should be launched soon.
- It seems that nowadays newspapers are limited to older population, while computers and smartphones are diminishing the impact of television.
Digital affects all parts of life. I think all broadcasts – all press, newspapers and radio stations – they can learn a lot from digital. It’s a long game, we know that in a generation, the current TV viewing generation will disappear. If you are not engaging your younger audience, who actually have nothing to do with TV anymore, if you are not relevant to them, if they don’t know who you are, then you are setting up yourself a big problem in 20 or 30 years. Your brand is going to be so irrelevant to them so they are not going to migrate.
Our job now, that’s a really interesting time to be living. You are now almost putting foundation of your success down the line. It’s going to be hard, it is hard, I’m involved in driving changing newsrooms all the time and I now people don’t like changes, but also people don’t like changes because they are afraid. It’s sometimes psychological, you need to take people on boat with you, but there is no point of pushing them.
- How challenging is it for journalists?
You really need to read the hearts and minds of your journalists, you need to invest a lot of money in meetings with people, best possible editorial team need to be put together and you need to present findings to them, because people sometimes think that our joined-up digital view, including what is happening on social media, can be compromising to them. So, I think it’s only about being transparent. As a leader, I think it is a very important thing. Maybe it’s a cultural difference in various countries, but everybody in the team needs to know why they need to change, you can’t just take a lot of decisions in the board meeting, and then start making those changes without painting a bigger picture to everyone. You need to take the people with you, and then the change will be much easier.
You also need to listen to your readers, as well as the people you work with, because they are all going to be consuming news in a way the audience is consuming it. They are all going to be using Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, but, when it comes to their work, majority somehow thinks that it’s not relevant. But, it is. What people really sometimes fail to appreciate is that banking, travel, shopping – all of these sectors have already done the digital transformation. Media, somehow, thinks that we are separated, but, actually, we are not, we are just yet another sector, which needs to apply digital transformation. It’s the same technique and tools. Just someone sells the sweaters, while someone sells the newspapers.
- BBC is coming back to Serbia, what are your plans and do you have any advice for colleagues here?
We need to learn a lot about Serbian market. We have been running both – Serbian radio and Serbian web site until 2011. so we are going into something for we think we have organizational memory.
Of course, we are changing, we want to reach young people and the people with wider variety of context, and to bring something different that the local market doesn’t providing. It is a really exciting chapter and I am looking forward to start working with team.
Since August, we have launched many languages, so we already have the knowledge how to do it. We are learning every time but the real work starts after the launch.
- What is the secret of BBC and the credibility and influence that you have?
I represent only one small part of BBC – we are huge organization with so many TV channels and radio, but what is really helping is that we have our producers guidelines that everybody sticks to. We have very specific way of dealing with absolutely every aspect of journalistic work on a daily basis. There is very strong internal control of what can be done and in terms of ethics and journalistic integrity. The rule of sticking always to report something only with two sources, unless it is exclusively done by a correspondent, and we trust our correspondents to brake stories with one source.
Also, we do a lot of editorial reviews and we always look feedback and we always invite junior members of staff to these meetings as well, so we have conversations about how the program went.