BBC Pop Up


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A crowdsourced doc unit

BBC Pop Up was the company’s first “crowdsourcing bureau,” which relocated to a new city or country each month to unearth local story ideas from area residents. We then made short films based on the suggestions we received in each region.

The basic premise was simple: relocate to a new location for a month at a time, hold a town hall in a local auditorium and ask residents what issues they wanted BBC journalists to film in their region. We later opened the idea up to social media and, in some locations, received hundreds and even thousands of suggestions for stories.

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Some of the story ideas were turned into short films and ran on BBC World News television as well as the website. The half-hour program aired on the BBC for two years and was broken down into chunks and posted to all digital platforms.

The Pop Up unit often incorporated the person who suggested the idea in some way into the story, even if just through on-screen text.

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I created the program and ran as the head for two years, employing other BBC video journalists to help make the segments and larger show. Together, we relocated to six states in the US and then to India, Russia and Kenya. The program was later brought to Beirut by a journalist who joined us during the first six months of the project. (That segment below.)

BBC Pop Up officially ran between 2014-2016. And though its social offerings are now defunct, it is still occasionally carried out as one-offs by BBC bureaus around the world.

Other media outfits have also since adopted the model and executed exciting crowdsourcing projects based on this BBC unit.

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Some of my favorite BBC Pop Up segments are listed below.