Monthly Archives: March 2011

How UGC can be used to empower marginalised communities online; a reaction to Savvy Chavvy and Big Fat Gypsy Weddings

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about an online community for gypsies and travellers called Savvy Chavvy. It got me thinking about the influence, and to a certain extent the power, of mainstream media. In some ways entertainment media these days can seem to be even more powerful than the news, which in the past, represented many people’s main source of news and information.

Today there is a whole new generation who consume news and media in an entirely different way… Infotainment. That is to say information combined with entertainment. This is a fun and interesting medium to gain news and information from, and with some 9 million viewers it’s definitely popular. The problem however, is when the entertainment factor begins to overtake the information factor.

I believe we have seen this in “documentaries” like Channel 4 ‘s Big Fat Gypsy Weddings. Dare I call them ‘mock-umentaries’? They are interesting and new, but surely they cannot be compared with a traditional journalistic documentary.

What I have found from research on many social networking sites is that these programmes generate a great amount of conversation and online. If you #BFGW there are references not only to the programmes themselves but to an entirely new social reference. This reference from what I have gathered seems to be on the whole quite negative.

Big Fat Gypsy Wedding Screen Shot Twitter Negative Comments

Many people are beginning to associate negative, laughable, and stereotyped behaviour with the gypsy way of life portrayed on the programme. The problem is that this programme is not representative of all traveller and gypsy communities.  By creating a programme so dedicated to entertainment over information, C4 have created an extremely entertaining show, but a show that may have pigeon-holed an entire marginalised community.

These people are not happy about this as can be seen from the outbreak at an RTS meeting yesterday..

The people in marginalised communities, now when I say marginalised I don’t just mean gypsies and travellers. We’re talking about prisoners, ex-prisoners, disabled people etc… are starting to use platforms to have their side of the story heard using user generated content.

I talked to Matt Grimes about the importance of online communities like Savvy Chavvy and the content they are producing…

Matt told me that these UGC platforms can:

  • empower marginalised communities
  • bring marginalised communities closer together regardless of physical distance
  • counter the media’s pre-established ‘agenda’
  • allow these communities to address issues covered in mainstream media
  • create a space for people to learn more about these communities from the real people who live in them

For More you can visit the links in the post or there’s more in these ones:

Matt Grimes

On Road Media- Savvy Chavvy

BBC College of Journalism Post on BFGW

BFGW STV Criticism

Guardian Article on BFGW

More on Savvy Chavvy

By Kirsty Malcolm @kirstymalcolm

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The Facebook Factor- Facebook in Films

At the beginning of 2011, the social media site Facebook is used by more than 600 million people across the world.

Not only is it one of the most frequently used UGC sites and can be a veritable fountain of information for journalists, for example being invited to events or groups of interest, but it also proves to be a good subject for media in its own right.

Tonight MTV will be showing the “Diary Of Facebook”. Its a documentary that will expose the inner workings of lives of Facebook and the employees that work there. The documentary includes interviews with Mark Zuckerberg the head of Facebook, talking about the culture of the company and how it has progressed. It has become so popular that the behind the scenes workings of the company are of interest to the general public.

Let us not forget the phenomenal success of ‘The Social Network. The film was based on the creation of Facebook by its founder Mark Zuckerberg. ‘The Social Network’ received critical acclaim and was one of the biggest films of the year.
It is has won four Golden Globes, an Academy Award, four Critics Choice Awards as well as many others!

Watch the Trailer below!

As this form of UGC became so popular and such a massive financial and commercial success, it shows that UGC should not be limited to giving ideas and contributing information to a story.
It surely is a matter of time before we see a ‘Twitter- The Movie’.

By Vanessa Holland

5 (and a half) Simple Steps for YOUR site to get MORE User Generated Content

We all know content is king, but there are only so many posts that you can churn out before your creativity/willing evaporates. So how can you get your community to become more engaged with your site and contribute?

1. Comments – It may sound obvious but so many blogs and websites still don’t allow comments, so activate the comment box and get communicating. Respond to all comments with more information and debate, you want to stimulate debate on your website.

2. Ask the Right Questions to get Debate – Now your community can comment you need to provoke a bit of debate. Users won’t readily comment they will only do so if they feel they have something to say, if your post leaves them feeling cold, they’ll stay quiet. So finish your posts with a question it could be as simple as what do you think? Or have you got anything to add?

3. Polls – are a great and simple way to get your community involved and reacting to your posts. There are loads of different tools that you can use most of which can easily embedded into your blog/website. Our favourites are;
i) PollDaddy
ii) micropoll.com
iii) twiigs.com
All three can be embedded onto your blog or website and PollDaddy even comes with analytics so you can see who is responding. Here are a couple we made earlier on PollDaddy about what you think of UGC.

4. Use the Right Tools – aside from polls there are literally hundreds of tools out there that help you to get more user generated content. We love Nabble, a tool that allows you to seamlessly embed a forum into your website ( unfortunately only as long as it is WordPress.org).

Nabble Forum on UGC


What do you think of UGC and the best ways to attract it?

The forum took two minutes to create and is embedded with a quick copy and paste of HTML code. Users stay on your site when using the forum and can share posts with social media plugins, helping your UGC reach a wider audience with no extra work for you! Call us lazy but we like that even if it is only available on WordPress.org!

5. Get the Community to do it for YOU!FV Community News is a WordPress.org plugin that allows you to create a form for users to submit fully formed articles with pictures, tags and they can be posted automatically on your site or after moderation straight off a fully intergrated WordPress dashboard.

Intergrated dashboard with FV Community News plugin

The plugin is completely spam proof using the same Aksimet system as WordPress. All you have to do is click “approve” and hey presto some brand spanking new UGC content. It is also good for receiving anonymous tips! You can see here what it looks like on Divito Design.

Lastly, but most definitely not least… optimize your publishing date and time. There is no excuse for not doing this as you can pre-set publishing time and dates for your posts! Time the publication so the maximum number of your readers will be online and your content isn’t lost in the big digital sea! A fellow member of team GbU did a similar post on this a few weeks ago!

So let us know what you think? Or if you have any top UGC generating tips, Comment, Tweet or go on our UGC forum!

by JAMES GLYNN

Are people putting their lives at risk for ugc and journalism and is the media industry encouraging it ? A look at Japan and the Middle East

As previous posts on this website have shown a huge amount of the news coverage coming out of conflict and disaster zones such as Libya, Egypt, and more recently Japan, is user generated. That is to say that civilians and citizens are using their cameras to document what’s happening all over the world from being shot at by Gaddafi forces, to filming their houses crumbling around them.

The quality is not always great but the undisputed power it yields, is that it’s captured as the action is happening. This is something journalists cannot always achieve due to time, safety constraints, and deadlines.

Watching the footage of the earthquake in Japan and the violence in Libya got me thinking about how people around the world might actually be putting their lives at risk in order to, paradoxically, record moments of life. Recent eyewitness footage demonstrates this desire and need to record what’s happening as it’s happening. The first thing many people did when the earthquake struck was to grab their cameras and press record, while in Libya many people are risking their lives to film during open gunfire.

Videos coming out of these troubled areas are showing a fascinating yet potentially deadly trend. We have already seen the death of one ‘citizen journalist’ in Libya being called a ‘citizen journalist martyr’. People are going against what has been perceived for generations as a basic human instinct. The drive to survive. Many people these days seem to outright put their lives at risk in order to capture something on film. But why is this happening and should it be happening?

I talked to ITN’s former Chief Executive Stewart Purvis to see what he thought about this growing trend, and whether broadcasters are justified in using UGC footage in the first place.

You can see the interview here, or check out the main information below.

Stewart started by saying that he did think broadcasters are justified in using the footage, as these people are capturing world events. The issue however, is when there is a risk of broadcasters indirectly encouraging people to film these kinds of dangerous events. He explained that this ‘indirect encouragement’ could be a greater risk with UGC because these people have no official connection to the networks.

Another risk is that ‘citizen journalists’ don’t have any formal training in what to do while filming under these circumstances. Many people seem to believe that if they have a camera filming they will be immune from danger, when in actual fact it could make them more of a target.

According to Stewart the events in Libya and Japan are very distinct. This is because in Japan there was amateur footage of the quake, but it was nothing compared to the incredible film shot by state media like NHK. In Libya however, due to the lack of state media coverage of what’s going on, and Gaddafi’s government restrictions on western media, a vacuum has been created. This means that everyday citizens have taken covering events into their own hands, to make sure the world is aware of what the real situation not being portrayed on state television. The government there are able to control to a certain extent what foreign media gets to see, but not how people use their mobile phones and the telecoms systems to then distribute that material.

Links:
Young Journalist Killed in Iraq

Libyan Citizen Journalist Killed – Mohammad Nabbous

British Journalist Killed in Iraq

By Kirsty Malcolm @kirstymalcolm

Tweet / Facebook your pics of India vs Pakistan @ Generated By Users: the quest for UGC

I was browsing through this blog, when I noticed something was missing – consideration of UGC when it comes to sport. You will often see users taking to social media during sporting events as they generate a great emotional response in fans. India played Pakistan in the Cricket World Cup today – a huge rivalry largely due to the two countries’ proximity and history. Plenty were Facebook –ing and tweeting about the game.

I took to both Twitter and Facebook to try and get users to send me pictures of their viewing experiences to convey the atmosphere and buzz surrounding the clash.

Here was my first tweet:

Generated By Users tweets during India vs Pakistan

Unsurprisingly, it received no response – so I requested that people send me pictures in tweets using the trending #indvspak and by hashtag -ing towns where I knew there was a large Asian population including Southall, Bradford and Tooting.

Sadly, I didn’t receive any responses on the Generated By Users Twitter account at this stage despite using hashtags to focus my tweets so they can be searched for more easily.

But I did get responses to my Facebook appeal:

Malpreet Lidder sends me a picture of her India vs Pakistan viewing experience via Facebook

My friend Malpreet probably took time to take this picture and tag me in it because she knows me personally, emphasising the importance of social capital. My family friend Romana also snapped a picture of her viewing experience in Lahore:

My family friend Romana Chohan watching the match in Pakistan

I was conscious that people may be so absorbed by the game that they won’t take time to send little known but obviously awesome blog Generated By Users their pictures. So after the game, I appealed for pictures of places where I knew fans would be celebrating on the streets following India’s win.

More Twitter appeals post-match

Alas, no one would get back to Generated By Users.

I decided to search #southall and came across a man called Jez Humble who had tweeted a picture of the jubilant scenes in this West London town.

I got in touch with him and he kindly let me put his photo on my blog…

Thanks Jez!

Southall post India vs Pakistan in the Cricket World Cup: spot the India flags! Picture taken by @jezhumble on Twitter

Thus, I got some UGC for this post through Twitter after many hours, to convey the excitement surrounding today’s match.

Phew!

This experiment shows me using Twitter and Facebook to source UGC, and also allowed me to demonstrate knowledge of the Creative Commons Licence. This essentially gives the go ahead for an organisation/person to use other people’s pictures for free with their permission – always remember to credit them!

If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out bloggers’ your2pence’s attempt to get in touch with people on the ground in Japan. They did good!

By Anisa Kadri @anisakadri on Twitter

How the BBC uses UGC: part Two. An interview with Matthew Eltringham

Matthew Eltringham is assistant Editor of Interactivity and Social Media Development at the BBC. I did an article about how he developed the UGC hub at the BBC and how the line of verification is a way of understanding which information the BBC will and will not use and how it is verified.

Matthew describes the different ways of incorporating UGC into newsgathering and more importantly, how we as fellow journalists can learn from the BBC how to verify that UGC is correct.

I asked Matthew if he could explain to me and GeneratedByUsers‘ fellow journalists exactly what the line of verification is in his own words.


I then asked him: If something comes up from the dark side, the dark side of the line of verification, how do you go about checking that it is okay to use it  and what influences you to use it?


And finally, I asked him what are the consequences of using wrong information from the dark side and is it worth using?


Although Matthew and his team experienced some skepticism from the BBC when the UGC hub was created, he claims it is merely another form of journalism and must be used alongside conventional journalism in the 21st century to keep up with breaking news.
By Linzi Kinghorn

PREVIEW: Al Jazeera English’s new UGC news show: The Stream

Al Jazeera is a news channel on the up. Riding high after the success of its Middle east coverage over the last couple of months, this May it is launching an all new show with user generated content at its heart.

“The Stream”, which has been in development since last year, will be a new daily talk show on Al Jazeera English with a fully intergrated web community. In fact, ‘the web community is arguably more important in getting the right feedback, stories and editorial angle of the show’

Generated By Users spoke to Ahmed Shihab-Eldin producer and co-presenter of “The Stream”. The whole concept behind he programme is to seek out untold stories, get ground level angles on big news events and to link into often overlooked discussion points or conversations online. That means that Justin Bieber and Charlie Sheen, popular as they are online won’t be featuring, but instead “The Stream” will stay true to Al Jazeera’s mission by giving a voice to the voiceless.

To create the narrative of the show which is unscripted and without autocue, social media curation is vital and they make use of a tool called Storify to create the conversation that fuels the show. Storify allows you to take multiple feed from social networks and compile them into one narrative.

As the show is built on user generated content and is screened live trust obviously becomes an issue. Al Jazeera already have a portal roughly similar to CNN’s iReport so they are already attuned to issues of UGC and trust. Ahmed Shihab-Eldin says that the number of people engaged online mean that facts are checked by crowdsourcing, but admittedly on face value we have to be wary of UGC.

News organisations no longer have exclusivity over our news and what we see, stories are breaking on twitter and online tools mean that everyone can be a part of telling the story as is the case with live blogs. But will there be more intergration of UGC and News?

Viewers and consumers of news are more willing to except lesser quality for immediacy and traditionally unreported angles, but does it risk making traditional reporting obsolete?

Al Jazeera English has seen a massive surge in popularity in recent months (increase of web traffic by 2500%), especially in the United States, due to its non-stop comprehensive coverage of the uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa. They hope “The Stream” can help to advance the cause of social media as a legitimate form of publishing information.

We’ll have to wait and see if “The Stream” succeeds where others (CNN we’re looking at you) have failed. But if anyone can make it work it’s a news organisation on the up.

Join “The Stream” on Twitter or http://www.ajestream.com/