BBC Newscast team uses Discord to shape coverage

Newscast will also be “central to the BBC’s general election coverage”

Hit BBC current affairs podcast Newscast is now using messaging platform Discord to get ideas for guests and interact with fans, PressGazette reports. 

The hosts and producers of the podcast launched the server just over a month ago, as a collaboration between BBC News and BBC Sounds, as a way to interact with audiences in real-time with channels dedicated to episode discussion, ideas for guests, as well as behind-the-scenes insight into the making of the podcast.

“The BBC are so mindful that it’s not just only about getting listeners, it’s also about deepening your relationship with those listeners,” BBC News Podcasts executive producer Jonathan Aspinwall told Press Gazette. “And there’s loads of work – loads and loads of work – going on at the moment about how you deepen your relationship with existing BBC users and what value we can add. And this is a really key part of that.”

In addition to using text chat functions to interact with fans, the team has run one live audio discussion, with more coming later. The BBC’s Discord strategy will also be used as a way to encourage listeners to migrate from other podcast platforms to BBC Sounds, according to BBC news podcasts senior news editor Sam Bonham. 

Newscast’s Discord server now has 3,700 members, according to PressGazette, since it launched at the end of June. Discussions on the server have led to editorial decisions on the podcast, including coverage of the Nigel Farage banking story as well as explaining phrases on climate change that come up during news coverage. 

Aspinwall also added that Newscast will be central to the BBC’s general election coverage. Newscast was BBC Sounds’ most listened to podcast from August last year to January this year which was credited to the fast-changing political climate in the UK at the time. 

Other podcasts that will be at the centre of the wider general elections news coverage include Goalhanger’s The Rest is Politics with former politicians Alistair Campbell and Rory Stewart. At The Podcast Show this year, the show’s executive producer Tony Pastor said that the podcast may have a “manifesto” for the next general election and it will test if the topics that are discussed can actually influence what the politicians talk about. Pastor also stated that he’s already got Campbell to agree to continue working for Goalhanger during the general election, rather than working for the Labour party.