OCTOBER 12, 2023

Ros Atkins: Let Me Explain

Presenter and author Ros Atkins in the BBC Newsroom

Journalists must always consider whether the way they are telling stories is right for the audiences they are trying to reach to ensure that their work remains relevant.

In the new episode of the Making the Media Podcast, BBC News analysis editor, presenter, and author, Ros Atkins, discusses how he constantly re-evaluates his work to ensure he explains topics clearly enough across multiple platforms.

Ros has just released a new book, called The Art of Explanation and in the podcast episode, he outlines the techniques he deploys when gathering, interpreting, and then presenting information.

One issue which comes up is that of news avoidance—where audiences are switching off the news as it fails to engage or interest them. Ros says, “Our general purpose as journalists hasn’t changed. We want to tell you what’s happened in the world. We want to explain it. We want to hold people to account. We want to analyze how issues and stories fit together. Journalists have been trying to do that since there have been journalists. We always need to stop and think: Is the way our journalism is manifesting itself right for the people that we're trying to reach?”

In the episode, Ros also talks about the creation and his presentation on the groundbreaking “Outside Source” program on BBC World News, which sought to tell stories in new ways using touch screen technology and innovative methods of news delivery.

Ros also discusses the role of his explainer video series, “Ros Atkins on….” which has received millions of views across multiple platforms. His videos cover stories in depth, and he adds, “While it is definitely true that short video in some circumstances is the way to go, there is also a market for longer explanation where we take more time than might be available in more classic forms of journalism. To provide the context, provide the historical background, to provide the extra data and evidence that you might need to fully unpack a subject. And I think there are a number of examples, and newsletters are one. Podcast is another. Any number of different video formats on YouTube is another. There are examples on the TV as well, of course, where people will watch for longer because they do want that extra information.”

He also discusses in depth how he developed a system for explanation and his book identifies ten key elements which he believes anyone can use to express themselves clearly, citing examples from his career in high-pressured newsrooms and also in his personal life.

Find out more on the next episode of the Making the Media podcast, available on all major podcast platforms on Friday, October 13.

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  • Craig Wilson headshot

    Craig Wilson is a newsroom specialist with over thirty years of experience in the broadcast industry. Craig has held various roles with Avid and is now the Global Media and Cloud Product Evangelist and host of the Making the Media podcast.

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