BBC conducts multimedia reporting experiment in the US
Spanish language service will use social media tools to shape its journey through Latino communities of the US
Last month, the BBC sent two journalists to Turkey to conduct an editorial experiment filing 'back stage' reports of the journalistic process via online social media tools while simultaneously filing more traditional reports on the upcoming elections.
The Mundo reporters left Miami last week using a similar range of devices - blogs, Flickr, Facebook, Skype and YouTube - intending to use the tools to reach an audience beyond that usually served by the BBC, while also filing more traditional reports.
The ¿Hablas español? (Do you speak Spanish?) project involves reporters Jose Baig and Carlos Ceresole travelling across the US from Florida to Los Angeles, only speaking Spanish to report stories of the US Latino community.
There are an estimated 42.7 million Hispanics in the United States, making it the world's second largest country of Hispanic people.
The ¿Hablas español? team are using the social media devices to encourage the audience to help shape their story.
"In the beginning we didn't plan it that way, but the response the team got from these websites was so strong," Americo Martins, executive editor BBC Americas, told Journalism.co.uk.
"Because the idea was to cover the issues related to the community they [the reporters] wanted to meet some of these people, but the response was much stronger than expected with people wanting to meet them and tell their stories.
"They [the reporters] are travelling very close to the Mexican boarder. Lots of people have suggested they visit other Latino communities much further from the border.
"Because of this, we are considering also travelling back to Florida overland via a different route much closer to the northern boarder of the US where we will have a different set of issues. This is at the suggestion of the people that have been responding to the project."
Once in Los Angeles the reporters will be involved in a debate about issues developed through their multimedia experiment.
"We've got to be integrated much more into the places [on the web] and the tools the audience choose to use rather than demanding that they come to a BBC site and consume content in the way we set out. There are issues surrounding that, copyright and other considerations, but if that is the way the web is working we need to be part of that too," Richard Sambrook, director of BBC Global news, told Journalism.co.uk.
"Hopefully, we will also reach an audience that we would otherwise not get to, that's a big part of doing it."
The BBC is planning to develop the multimedia reporting project further. A climate change project, Mr Sambrook said, is intending to take a boat through the areas of Bangladesh that would disappear if sea levels rise.
It's expected to use a similar range of social media tools to continue the editorial experiment.
"I very much hope that - other than encouraging reporters to do it and giving them the space to do it - our other encouragement is that people debrief and learn from each other until we get to a stage where our using these tools and sites delivers real editorial value back to an audience," Mr Sambrook added.
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