To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the BBC reported on the event in 'real time' as if it were breaking news. It was a fascinating experiment showing how one of the most seminal events in modern history would have transpired on social media.

For the coverage, the BBC used all the techniques they would normally use to cover a breaking story, such as videos and live updates. They even used real correspondents:

...Allan Little, who has great experience of reporting in the Balkans, will be our man in Sarajevo. Royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell tells the story of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, his wife, and their relationship with our own king and queen of the time. Diplomatic correspondent Bridget Kendall will look at how the assassination was viewed by the government in London.

Security correspondent Frank Gardner will tell us about the security concerns surrounding the archduke's visit to Sarajevo. And we have reaction from correspondents based in the most important European cities at the time - St Petersburg, Berlin, Vienna and Paris - to find out how the tsar, the kaiser, an emperor and a president were all told the news.


Here are some screen grabs as the story unfolded:

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This is so cool — but to be fair, it's doubtful that the event would have been covered by the British press in such detail. First of all, very few people outside of Britain and France really cared about the Archduke and the goings on in Serbia. Second, this news item would have competed against other stories; the British were pre-occupied with the Irish Home Rule crisis, while the French were distracted by a sensationalistic murder trial. And finally, very few imagined that the assassination of a single individual would have cascaded into a global conflict. But to its credit, the BBC actually addressed some of these issues in the coverage itself.


Well done, BBC. Well done.

Check out more at the BBC commemoration page.


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