Taliesin News Consortium and Cardiff Journalism School

Today the leaders of the Taliesin News bid came to run a focus group with Cardiff Journalism School broadcast and newspaper students.

The three leaders of the bid Clive Jones the Chairman of GMTV who currently sits on S4C board of directors, Phil Henfrey the Head of News at ITV Wales and Jonathon Hill the presenter of ITV Wales took a bit of a grilling from Cardiff students.

The bid

Taliesin want to create a Welsh  multi media platform for lots of different types of digital content which is relevent to their Welsh audience.  Since the ITV Wales program is currently growing its audience the programme won’t really change.

The new website will include content from a range of Taliesin producers including a radio service, local newspapers, blogs and citizen journalists.

The key part of Taliesin’s pitch is that their content will be available to everyone. Hospital radio, universities, citizen journalists and bloggers will have access to Taliesin’s content, and be able to produce content which will then be in Taliesin’s programming.

Current problems with the ITV Wales website

Last year we had a lecture by Micheal Jermey ITV’s director of news and current affairs in which he gave us a preview of the new ITV website.

Since then I have been monitoring the ITV Wales site and comparing it to BBC Wales. The big problem with the ITV site is that is mainly full of video content, with little writing or other forms of digital media.

The videos are very hard to access and have no option for comments.  Since there are no blogs it is impossible to engage with ITV Wales about what they are showing in their programming. They are well hidden in their fortress.

Editorialist verses aggregator

Taliesin hope to change this by being “the first stop” for news in Wales. They will display all their content from a range of platforms in one place, and will guide their viewers through the content online.

However I left the focus group confused about Taliesin’s  aims for their out reach programmes.

The Taliesin bid talked about how it wants to get involved in communities and through training, bring in user-generated content which could be used in their bulletins.

But I am confused about how they would do this. On the one hand Taliesin want to develop beat bloggers who would report stories from their communities. The content the bloggers produced would be aggregated on Taliesin’s site, alongside the content produced by their journalists.

But Taliesin also say that they would need to maintain some form of editorial control, to make sure that these bloggers did not inadvertently get them sued. There is then a danger that Taliesin could become a ” big brother”.

It is a very expensive model to train up community groups and then monitor their output to insure it meets journalistic standards. Considering how small Taliesin is I am still not sure that this model is workable.

The Welsh language

The pilots are being initially financed by using the digital switchover surplus money. This will only finance an English language broadcast service.

Although Taliesin are hoping to generate revenue from other streams, it will be a long time before they have enough money to do a Welsh language news programme.

Considering that Taliesin wants to be a Welsh brand, it is problematic that they will only be able to produce an English language service when they first start.

The Brand Image

Finally my last concern with the Taliesin bid was that the graphic for the Taliesin brand looked too much like the Sky News title. The only difference I could see was it’s colours.

If Taliesin wants to create a strong brand they need better graphics.

It does sound positive

I do think that the Taliesin bid is really trying to produce a better range of content than ITV Wales currently manages.  Hopefully the focus group with Cardiff students has produced some constructive ideas, which will help Taliesin develop strong local content for the people of Wales.

I believe it is crucial for the future of local news, that broadcasters integrate their content with their audience and citizen journalists. Although I still need to be convinced that Taliesin has the perfect solution.


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