The Most Intimate Medium

European Broadcasting Union European Broadcasting Union (EBU) Members have met the President of the European Newspaper Publishers' Association (ENPA), Valdo Lehari Jr., to discuss the future of news services on the internet. Public value tests, convergence of media and changing consumption patterns were some of the issues discussed during the keynote session of rNEWS10, the EBU's annual Radio News Specialized Meeting.

Markku Laukkanen, the Chairman of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly Sub-Committee on the Media, later argued that public service media had a special role in the field of news and current affairs. Mr Laukkanen said that editorial independence and strong ethical values meant that PSM could provide the information necessary for "an exchange of views which are necessary in a democratic society".

Mr Laukkanen noted that in response to the changing media environment, public service media had developed new, interactive internet services. Other speakers confirmed that radio was ideally suited to what Charlie Beckett, the Director of POLIS Media, described as "an age of multi-tasking, multi-platform, mobile, instant, citizen-generated news".

Andy Carvin, a Senior Social Media Strategist based in Washington, told rNEWS10 that NPR had always believed that radio was the most intimate medium, with social media "a very close second".

A good example of radio's intimacy was the RAI Radio 2 current affairs show, 'Caterpillar', which had one million daily listeners. Filippo Solibello, the show's co-presenter, revealed that they used not only a network of more than 200 'citizen reporters' for on-air contributions, but also social media, including Facebook.

RT'E's former Washington correspondent, Mark Little, presented his new start-up venture, called Storyful, which he described as a news agency for social media. Mr Little said that he aimed to curate news from different sources, rather than aggregate, like Google or other search engines, in order to "separate the news from the noise".

Mr Beckett urged public service broadcasters not be "snooty" about citizen journalism, bloggers or user generated content. Radio and other media, he claimed, had much to gain by learning to tap into the wisdom 'in' rather than 'of' the crowd.

Mr Carvin highlighted another strength of radio. NPR's morning news show had more listeners than all of the national commercial TV news channels combined, although the show's entire budget was smaller than the salary of one TV presenter, Katie Couric.

The Radio News Conference was above all an opportunity for members to share ideas, transfer knowledge and find common solutions to universal challenges. During the conference, there were more than 500 tweets with the #rnews10 hashtag and afterwards, Members gathered on the EBU's third floor terrace to continue the conversation late into the evening.

Whose Web? In the same way that good marriages sometimes go through rough patches, the current relationship between public service media and newspapers is looking a tad strained. This time the quarrel is over the Internet.

James Murdoch, the Chairman of News Corporation Europe, warned a media conference in Edinburgh last year that, "The expansion of state-sponsored journalism [online] is a threat to the plurality and independence of news provision." Mr Murdoch claimed it was essential for the future of independent digital journalism that a "fair price" could be charged for news.

Mr Murdoch's comments echoed similar charges levelled by many other European newspaper publishers against what they see as the market distorting effects of free online news services. Public service media retort that they have an obligation not only to stay close to their audiences by making content available on all platforms, but also to develop services that satisfy changing needs and consumption patterns.

Pay walls are the publishers' latest ploy to offset lost revenue from dwindling sales and advertising as more of their readers opt to get their stories online. The trouble is, they argue, that it becomes harder to convince readers to open their wallets when services like BBC News Online, or Germany's are available free of charge.

Newspapers have hit back by stepping up their lobbying activities and piling up the political pressure on public service media. Some newspapers have devoted ample column to "market impact" issues and all the signs are that governments are listening.

In Germany, public service broadcasters have had their online ambitions curtailed. Not only does the German Broadcasting Law lay down more than 20 restrictions, but also all new online services need to be approved through a "three step test" to gauge potential market impact.

Similarly, the BBC cannot launch a new service or make significant changes to an existing one without seeking the approval of its supervisory board, the BBC Trust. The Trust decides whether a 'Public Value Test' is needed, which sometimes results in potential new services being turned down.

Last year, the Trust rejected proposals for a local video service, covering news, sport and weather, on enhanced BBC Local websites. Based on the results of a Public Value Test, the Trust decided that the potential benefits were not sufficient to outweigh a negative effect on local newspapers. Some German newspaper publishers view as a threat to their online business model

Elsewhere, it is not always governments who intervene: sometimes broadcasters choose self regulation.

Czech Radio's has held back its online activities, following measures imposed by the Czech Radio Council. Despite the lack of any legislation imposing such constraints on CR , the Czech Radio Council has insisted that all online services should reflect broadcast content.

If this is a difficult moment, though, the relationship between broadcasters and publishers runs stronger and deeper than the current row may suggest. For many years, listeners, viewers and readers have benefitted from the keenness of broadcasters and newspapers to work together for the benefit of journalism.

It helps that the different media have complementary strengths. Broadly speaking, broadcasters are able to react more quickly to breaking news, while newspapers are traditionally better at commenting and providing analysis.

Material from regional press conferences is often shared in situations where it is too expensive or impractical for the different media to send separate teams. Czech Radio is one of many public service broadcasters who provide online newspapers with audiovisual material, such as an exclusive interview with the President.

In addition, CR supplies newspaper websites with traffic and travel information and shares pre-election statistics. Latvian Radio (LR) also offers the printed press research data and like other public service broadcasters, drives web traffic back to newspapers by linking to articles.

Elsewhere, three of Polish Radio's national channels cooperate with newspapers to cover news events. The agreements include reciprocal linking to each other's websites, as well as cross promotion of the paper edition or radio channel.

Last year, the BBC launched a video news sharing project with major newspaper partners. In Lithuania, LRT also works together with newspapers' online portals.

Training is another area where broadcasters and newspapers often combine their efforts. Sometimes this involves shared training institutes for journalists, as is the case in Sweden, where public radio and TV have set up a common educational institute with the print media.

In the UK, the BBC College of Journalism is a comprehensive online resource developed for internal training purposes but made available to all journalists. The COJ website covers about 2'500 pages of BBC learning material on audiovisual skills and guides to all aspects of reporting and interview techniques.

Romanian Radio (ROR) has arranged training sessions together with newspapers on topics such as war correspondence and investigative journalism. Finland's YLE has teamed up with print media to develop journalists' social media skills.

On the whole, the relationship remains a healthy one and mutually beneficial. Indeed, recent research carried out by the EBU suggests that cooperation is growing across the continent with several public broadcasters apparently ready to expand editorial partnerships further.

News for Digital Natives

rNEWS10 looks at the impact of smartphones and the internet on radio news

This year's Radio News Conference, rNEWS10, looks at the impact of social media, mobile communications and the internet on the news environment in which radio operates.

The success of public service media in this interactive, multimedia space has given rise to a certain amount of friction with commercial competitors and especially newspaper publishers, who share a mission to provide their readers with quality journalism. Keynote speaker Valdo Lehari (ENPA) will debate these and other issues, including the opportunities for more collaboration, with ARD's Arthur Landwehr.

Other distinguished speakers will include Guido Baumhauer (DW), Charlie Beckett (POLIS Media), Andy Carvin (NPR), Michael Good (RTE), Mark Little (Storyful), Tomas Miglierina (RSI), Ulrich Neuwöhner (SWR), Mark Rock (Audio Boo) and Filippo Solibello (RAI).

Above all, rNEWS10 is an opportunity to celebrate the power and relevance of radio news. Participants will share insights and experiences as they discuss the challenges that lie ahead.

rNEWS10, which takes place in Geneva on 7th and 8th October, is free for all EBU Members. Participants will have the opportunity not only to network with peers, colleagues and experts, but also to gather ideas that they can implement in their organizations.

You can register here to participate. Non-members who would like to participate or become a sponsor, please send an email to the contact address at the bottom of the page.

Radio Members Share Multimedia Content

EBU Radio has agreed an important partnership with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to provide members with multimedia content from the inaugural edition of the Youth Olympic Games. The Youth Olympics, which are taking place in Singapore from 14 to 26 August, will see athletes aged between 14 and 18 competing in 26 sporting disciplines.

EBU Radio will present Euroradio MES at rNEWS10 EBU Members will be able to download photographs and short video clips from the event via the new Euroradio Multimedia Exchange System (MES). The service aims to provide Radio members with content for their websites and visual radio services.

Visitors to the site log in with their email address and EBU Lounge password. Those who do not have a login can sign up by clicking 'Register'.

Content will be uploaded into the system as it becomes available. The 'Email Alerts' functionality (found under 'Tools') provides a useful way to stay informed about new content added to the system.

The portal was originally requested by the EBU New Radio Group and fills a need that many EBU Radio Members have felt for some time. While Radio was in the past an audio-only medium, the internet and mobile platforms now play such an important role in the way people listen, that it is fast becoming an expectation that public service media organizations provide rich multimedia content in support of their broadcast output.

Many listeners to a radio station's news bulletin will habitually turn to the website expecting to find the video and images that make up the 'DVD extras' of radio news today.

Sourcing these elements, however, is not straightforward for journalists. Complex rules governing copyright, high fees charged by photo agencies and the huge range of sources available mean that broadcasters are often unable to find all the content that their audiences expect.

Addressing this challenge, the Euroradio MES aims to be a 'one-stop-shop' bringing together rights-cleared media from EBU Members and partner organizations including UN Multimedia and trusted freelance journalists across the world.

The Euroradio MES is the newest member of a family of exchange services offered by EBU Radio, including the Euroradio News Exchange - which supplies radio journalists across Europe with audio clips from major events - and the Eurosonic and Euroclassic concert databases.

EBU Radio will present Euroradio MES at rNEWS10.