BBC News Online

BBC News Online

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BBC News Online is the website of BBC News
BBC News
BBC News is the department of the British Broadcasting Corporation responsible for the gathering and broadcasting of news and current affairs. The department is the world's largest broadcast news organisation and generates about 120 hours of radio and television output each day, as well as online...

, the division of the BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

 responsible for newsgathering and production. The website is the most popular news
News is the communication of selected information on current events which is presented by print, broadcast, Internet, or word of mouth to a third party or mass audience.- Etymology :...

 website in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 and forms a major part of BBC Online (
The site records around 14 million unique users a week (around 60 to 70% of visitors are from the UK).

The website contains international news coverage, as well as British, entertainment, science, and political news. Many reports are accompanied by audio and video from the BBC's television
Television is a telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that can be monochrome or colored, with accompanying sound...

 and radio
Radio is the transmission of signals through free space by modulation of electromagnetic waves with frequencies below those of visible light. Electromagnetic radiation travels by means of oscillating electromagnetic fields that pass through the air and the vacuum of space...

 news services, while the latest TV and radio bulletins are also available to view or listen to on the site together with other current affairs programmes.

BBC News Online is closely linked to its sister department website, that of BBC Sport
BBC Sport
BBC Sport is the sports division of the BBC. It became a fully dedicated division of the BBC in 2000. It incorporates programmes such as Match of the Day, Grandstand , Test Match Special, Ski Sunday, Rugby Special and coverage of Formula One motor racing, MotoGP and the Wimbledon Tennis...

. Both sites follow similar layout and content options and respective journalists work alongside each other. Location information provided by users is also shared with the website of BBC Weather
BBC Weather
BBC Weather is the BBC's department in charge of preparing and broadcasting weather forecasts and is now part of BBC News. The broadcast meteorologists are employed by the Met Office...

 to provide local content.

The site was named best news website at the BAFTA Interactive Entertainment Awards every year from the website's creation until 2001 when the award category was withdrawn.


The website was launched in November 1997, headed by founding editor Mike Smartt
Mike Smartt
Mike Smartt OBE is a journalist and broadcaster, and was the founder and editor-in-chief of BBC News Online, the BBC's Internet news service. With Project Director Bob Eggington , and held the post of editor-in-chief of BBC News Interactive, which also encompassed interactive television news, until...

. There had previously been a special website marking the 1995 Budget
United Kingdom budget
The United Kingdom budget deals with HM Treasury budgeting the revenues gathered by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs and expenditures of public sector departments, in compliance with government policy.Adjustment is achieved with the GDP deflator....

, the 1997 General Election, as well as the death of Princess Diana in 1997, but nothing on the scale of the launch of the main site itself.

The original design was created by a team, including Matt Jones, based on designs commissioned from consultancy Lambie-Nairn
Lambie-Nairn is an international branding agency within the WPP Group, headquartered in London with offices in Munich, Madrid, Abu Dhabi and Prague...

, and has been redesigned several times mainly to match the visual style of BBC News television bulletins and to exploit increases in readers' typical screen resolutions. A major overhaul in 2003, primarily by Paul Sissons and Maire Flynn, coincided with a relaunch of the BBC News Channel (then BBC News 24) and featured a wider page design.

New features were gradually introduced, including the publicising of video content more prominently, and the introduction of live streaming of the BBC News channel.

In line with the introduction of new features across BBC Online, including a new navigation bar, the site was updated with wider centred page designs, larger images and more emphasis on audio and visual content.

Smartt was later succeeded by Pete Clifton
Pete Clifton
Pete Clifton is a British media executive with MSN UK and the former head of BBC News Interactive.-Career:Clifton was previously the editor of Ceefax, and before joining the BBC was a news and sports reporter at the Chronicle and Echo in Northampton, a sports journalist at the Exchange Telegraph...

 who was subsequently promoted to Head of BBC News Interactive and replaced by the previous editor Steve Herrmann in 2005.

A restructuring of BBC News starting in 2007 saw the dissolution the separate BBC News Interactive department; the editorial and management departments joined the new multimedia newsroom along with television and radio news within BBC Television Centre
BBC Television Centre
BBC Television Centre at White City in West London is the headquarters of BBC Television. Officially opened on 29 June 1960, it remains one of the largest to this day; having featured over the years as backdrop to many BBC programmes, it is one of the most readily recognisable such facilities...

; the development and site design teams are based in BBC White City
BBC White City
BBC White City refers both to a collection of BBC buildings at Wood Lane, White City in west London, and an office building opened in 1990 within that collection of buildings...

, both in the White City
White City, London
White City is a district in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, to the north of Shepherd's Bush. Today, White City is home to the BBC Television Centre and BBC White City, and Loftus Road stadium, the home of football club Queens Park Rangers FC....


On 14 July 2010 the site was completely redesigned, with the vertical section headings moved to run horizontally near the top of the page. The new design, incorporating larger in-line videos within news articles and standardised font usage, was introduced as a first step to bringing the entire BBC website into line with its new style guidelines. It was met with mixed opinions; Stephen Fry stated his approval of the redesign, and the new design was praised for being "more attractive [and] graphically stronger". However, there was also criticism, with some stating that the use of white space was too widespread and led to the need for continuous and excessive scrolling.

UK/International editions

There are two different editions of the site: a UK
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 edition, which gives prominence to UK stories, and an International edition, which prioritises international news. All articles are archived indefinitely and can be retrieved via searching or by browsing the extensive Special Reports section, which contains collections of articles relating to major news stories. The previous seven days' top stories were formerly available through the Week at a Glance
Week at a Glance
Week at a Glance was a section of the BBC News online website. It was updated each morning, so that it contained links to the archived articles for about five of the top stories from each of the preceding seven days, except that Saturday and Sunday were combined into a single "weekend" entry which...

 section of the website.

Internet users with IP address
IP address
An Internet Protocol address is a numerical label assigned to each device participating in a computer network that uses the Internet Protocol for communication. An IP address serves two principal functions: host or network interface identification and location addressing...

es originating from the UK are served the UK edition, all others receive the World edition.

As well as pure news articles, the site also contains material to support BBC news, current affairs and factual programmes
Television program
A television program , also called television show, is a segment of content which is intended to be broadcast on television. It may be a one-time production or part of a periodically recurring series...

. The Magazine section contains features prompted by current news stories, as well as a number of regular items within the daily Magazine Monitor
BBC News Magazine Monitor
The Magazine Monitor is a column in the Magazine section of BBC News Online; the website of BBC News; where a wily and irreverent take on the day's news is collated. The first article added to the Monitor each day is usually the Paper Monitor - often pointing out the glorious imperceptible...

 blog with various light-hearted sub-sections including 'Caption Competition', 'Reader's Letters', 'Punorama', quizzes and other humorous items.

A forum, Have Your Say, is also a major part of the site, linking with the BBC programme of the same name (see Have Your Say
Have Your Say
Have Your Say was a weekly discussion-based television programme, produced by the BBC and broadcast on international news channel BBC World News and BBC World Service radio. Its last broadcast was on 20 April 2008. The programme linked to the section of the BBC News website, BBC News Online, which...

) and promotions on BBC News bulletins. The current system behind the forum was introduced in 2005 to allow or comments to be added to debates and appear in real-time, subject to varying levels of moderation.

A more detailed section of the web site is Special Reports, formerly In Depth. This brings together news articles by theme or incident and also includes many explanatory articles or diagrams.

Since the beginning of May 2007, the BBC News channel has been streamed live on the UK version of the website.


BBC News Online has a small number of topic-specific columns
A columnist is a journalist who writes for publication in a series, creating an article that usually offers commentary and opinions. Columns appear in newspapers, magazines and other publications, including blogs....

 written by BBC journalists. Examples include former education correspondent Mike Baker
Mike Baker (journalist)
Mike Baker was the BBC's Education Correspondent from 1989 until 2007. Before that he was a BBC Political Correspondent from 1980 to 1989. He also spent brief periods as a Foreign Correspondent and Deputy Home News Editor at the BBC. Baker is currently a regular columnist for BBC News Online, The...

's Mike Baker Weekly column which still continues and technology commentator Bill Thompson's
Bill Thompson (technology writer)
Bill Thompson is an English technology writer, best known for his weekly column in the Technology section of BBC News Online and his appearances on Click, a radio show on the BBC World Service. He is also an Honorary Senior Visiting Fellow at City University London .Born in Jarrow, Thompson grew...

 bill board (formerly bill blog). BBC News Online Science Writer Ivan Noble
Ivan Noble
Ivan Noble was a British journalist who worked for BBC News Online and became well known for his diary documenting his fight against cancer....

, diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour in August 2002, shared his experiences of cancer in Tumour Diary until his death on 31 January 2005.

The use of blog
A blog is a type of website or part of a website supposed to be updated with new content from time to time. Blogs are usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in...

s has also grown with correspondents including Nick Robinson
Nick Robinson
Nicholas Anthony "Nick" Robinson is a British journalist and political editor for the BBC. Robinson was interested in politics from a young age, and went on to study a Philosophy, Politics, and Economics degree at Oxford University, where he was also President of the Oxford University Conservative...

, Robert Peston
Robert Peston
Robert Peston is a British journalist. Since February 2006, he has been the Business Editor for BBC News. He became known to a wider public with his reporting of the late-2000s financial crisis, especially with his scoop on the Northern Rock crisis.-Early life and education:Peston is the son of...

, Mark Mardell
Mark Mardell
Mark Mardell is the North American Editor for BBC News. He has provided coverage for each United Kingdom general election since 1992.-Education:...

, Justin Webb
Justin Webb
Justin Oliver Webb is a British journalist who has worked for the BBC since 1984. Since August 2009, he has presented on the Today programme.-Early life:...

 and Evan Davis
Evan Davis (journalist)
Evan Harold Davis is a British economist, journalist and presenter for the BBC. In October 2001, Davis took over from Peter Jay as the BBC's economics editor. He left this post in April 2008 to become a presenter on BBC Radio 4's Today programme...

, amongst others, making use of them to provide updates on the latest news events. The Editors' blog has also seen BBC News editors giving their reasons for editorial decisions, as well as defending criticisms of the BBC. Members of the public are given the opportunity to comment on entries

Embedded video and audio

The launch of the BBC iPlayer
BBC iPlayer
BBC iPlayer, commonly shortened to iPlayer, is an internet television and radio service, developed by the BBC to extend its former RealPlayer-based and other streamed video clip content to include whole TV shows....

, with the new Adobe Flash
Adobe Flash
Adobe Flash is a multimedia platform used to add animation, video, and interactivity to web pages. Flash is frequently used for advertisements, games and flash animations for broadcast...

 based BBC Embedded Media Player in July 2007 enabled BBC News and Sport Online to change the way it presented video content. Previously the site had delivered online video content using embedded RealPlayer
RealPlayer is a cross-platform media player by RealNetworks that plays a number of multimedia formats including MP3, MPEG-4, QuickTime, Windows Media, and multiple versions of proprietary RealAudio and RealVideo formats.-History:...

 video in pop-up window
Modal window
In user interface design, a modal window is a child window that requires users to interact with it before they can return to operating the parent application, thus preventing the workflow on the application main window...

s branded as the BBC News Player. From March 2008 the BBC began to gradually introduce embedded video using the EMP into individual news articles and onto the front page. The news player also provides constant live streaming
Streaming media
Streaming media is multimedia that is constantly received by and presented to an end-user while being delivered by a streaming provider.The term "presented" is used in this article in a general sense that includes audio or video playback. The name refers to the delivery method of the medium rather...

 of the BBC News channel via the website. This had previously only been viewable in a separate window.

Mobile and text only versions

In addition to the standard website with embedded video and audio, there is an XHTML
XHTML is a family of XML markup languages that mirror or extend versions of the widely-used Hypertext Markup Language , the language in which web pages are written....

 version optimised for users on mobile devices. Additionally the WAP
Wireless Application Protocol
Wireless Application Protocol is a technical standard for accessing information over a mobile wireless network.A WAP browser is a web browser for mobile devices such as mobile phones that uses the protocol.Before the introduction of WAP, mobile service providers had limited opportunities to offer...

 version of the website is automatically updated with news, and a text-only version of the main news website can be accessed via the BBC Betsie service.

In March 2010 the BBC announced that the low graphics and PDA
A PDA is most commonly a Personal digital assistant, also known as a Personal data assistant, a mobile electronic device.PDA may also refer to:In science, medicine and technology:...

 versions of the site would be discontinued. As of May 2010 these versions of the site are no longer available and redirect to the main and mobile websites respectively.

Real-time information

The site launched a set of semi-official RSS
RSS (file format)
RSS is a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated works—such as blog entries, news headlines, audio, and video—in a standardized format...

 0.91 syndication feeds in June 2003 and upgraded them to full feed RSS 2.0 in 2008. Each news index has its own RSS feed, including the in-depth sections.

The BBC began providing real-time global user information in June 2006.

In-text links

Beginning on 30 April 2009, some published stories included in-text links, mostly to in-site profile articles on people, locations and organizations.

BBC Newstracker

In 2004 the BBC News website partnered with Moreover Technologies
Moreover Technologies
Moreover Technologies is a provider of business intelligence and news aggregation products for enterprises, also offering free news feeds for consumers...

, in a response to the 2003 Graf Report, to provide links from BBC articles to rival publishers. Whilst the BBC does not censor or change results the algorithms used tend to give greater weight to national and international sources over regional or local ones.

Search Engine Optimisation

The BBC announced on 19 November 2009 that it was to pay more attention to SEO by extending news headlines.


The site is primarily funded by the television licence
Television licence
A television licence is an official licence required in many countries for the reception of television broadcasts...

, paid by all UK households owning a television set
Television set
A television set is a device that combines a tuner, display, and speakers for the purpose of viewing television. Television sets became a popular consumer product after the Second World War, using vacuum tubes and cathode ray tube displays...

, and used to carry no advertising
Advertising is a form of communication used to persuade an audience to take some action with respect to products, ideas, or services. Most commonly, the desired result is to drive consumer behavior with respect to a commercial offering, although political and ideological advertising is also common...

. The World edition has received some subsidy from the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, commonly called the Foreign Office or the FCO is a British government department responsible for promoting the interests of the United Kingdom overseas, created in 1968 by merging the Foreign Office and the Commonwealth Office.The head of the FCO is the...

 through its grant-in-aid to the BBC World Service
BBC World Service
The BBC World Service is the world's largest international broadcaster, broadcasting in 27 languages to many parts of the world via analogue and digital shortwave, internet streaming and podcasting, satellite, FM and MW relays...

. This has led to complaints of unfair competition from commercial rivals. Others note that large numbers of international visitors enjoy the site at the expense of the UK public, leading to suggestions that foreign users be shown advertising or charged subscription fees when accessing the site. Proposals to include advertising on the international version of the website were discussed by the BBC Trust
BBC Trust
The BBC Trust is the governing body of the British Broadcasting Corporation. It is operationally independent of BBC management and external bodies, and aims to act in the best interests of licence fee payers....

 in February 2007, but were opposed by BBC journalists, who feared it would weaken public trust in the impartiality of the BBC. In November 2007, the site did start to carry advertising. The advertising consists of large animated banners, which has led to complaints that these make the site's content harder to read.

The impartiality of the Have Your Say forums has been disputed by organisations such as News Sniffer: moderators are accused of sometimes appearing to promote their own agenda.

External links

  • BBC News Online – About the site at
    BBC Online is the brand name and home for the BBC's UK online service. It is a large network of websites including such high profile sites as BBC News and Sport, the on-demand video and radio services co-branded BBC iPlayer, the pre-school site Cbeebies, and learning services such as Bitesize...

  • About BBC News – News Interactive
    BBC Online is the brand name and home for the BBC's UK online service. It is a large network of websites including such high profile sites as BBC News and Sport, the on-demand video and radio services co-branded BBC iPlayer, the pre-school site Cbeebies, and learning services such as Bitesize...

  • BBC News OPML file of all RSS feeds (XML) at
    BBC Online is the brand name and home for the BBC's UK online service. It is a large network of websites including such high profile sites as BBC News and Sport, the on-demand video and radio services co-branded BBC iPlayer, the pre-school site Cbeebies, and learning services such as Bitesize...

  • First article on the BBC role in Social Bookmarking on the Internet – The BBC added Social Bookmarking links in August 2007, to their News and Sport articles, raising the profile of them significantly

Most popular now

Early pages (look and feel may have been applied in 2001)