Daily Archives: March 30, 2011

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

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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