Author Archives: kirstymalcolm

Are national broadcasters simply endorsing social media platforms ‘like Facebook and Twitter’ ?

“We’ve received this tweet from ….”

It’s the latest trend in news and everyone’s following suit. It seems like there isn’t a news programme that goes by these days without some kind of reference to UGC platforms Twitter and Facebook. For some this represents an essential new connection to the audience, while others feel this is a perfect example of broadcast networks endorsing social networking brands.

There were plenty of examples people who were unhappy with BBC constantly referencing the websites (I shall try not to name them again, as the fear grows that I myself am endorsing them…) on the most recent episode of BBC’s Newswatch which can be watched here.

When talking to Former ITN Chief Executive and Ofcom Partner Stewart Puvis about the future of UGC he told me he thought that broadcasters could be in danger of unfairly promoting Twitter and Facebook. You can hear is comments below:

But what can we do about this  when there only really is one place you CAN ‘Tweet’… should we be saying ‘we have received a social media commentary from one of our viewers’ ?? Or is that just taking political correctness to an unnecessary extreme?

When talking to BBC Breakfast Producer James Laidler I took the opprtunity to ask him what he thought of the idea that BBC, a public service broadcaster, might be endorsing online brands. He pointed out that the main platforms being used at the moment simply are Twitter and Facebook. He justified the BBC’s use of these services by saying that as a ‘public service broadcaster’ the Beeb has to take into account how its audience is digesting news and keep up to date with it.

Many people nowadays go straight to social networking sites to find out what’s going on. It’s therefore essential for networks to present news across these platforms in order to not fall behind. he also emphasised that the BBC Breakfast audience enjoy the interaction and direct connection that Twitter and Facebook create. He said “….”

You can see the interview with James here:

So what do you think?

By Kirsty Malcolm @kirstymalcolm

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

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

How Media outlets can use User Generated Content for Feedback and Complaints. ‘Ranters to Ravers’ a Case Study

Lots of people like to comment and complain about the media coverage. Be it that they are unhappy about a TV presenter’s beard or that they are not happy about the panel of a Question Time programme.

The audience is key in media, they are the reason journalism is created. All TV, radio and online content is catered to specific audiences and demographics. This is so strong that some companies go to great lengths to create a fictional character that embodies the kind of person they are trying to make content for. They often even give the character a name. For example ITV Daybreak’s person might be called Sheila. She has 3 children, has a part-time job in an office and is a stay at home mum the rest of the week. At meetings it wouldn’t be totally bizzare to refer to Sheila by saying “now remember Sheila I don’t know if she’d like to see someone having their arm amputated at 9 in the morning.”

Well you get the picture!  Audiences are crucial in media, so it has always been open and receptive to comments about their shows. Traditionally this was done through the good old Royal Mail. Your letter would get through to a person in for example the BBC Points of View office who would, if you were lucky, broadcast your views on the PoV show. These days most people don’t send letters, but they do send lots of angry emails and tweets over the internet at just the click of a button!

The fact that people can tweet or use other forms of social media including Youtube to ‘rant’ about media coverage as it happens could be detrimental to a network’s ratings. If twitter is ‘trending’ for example #bbcqt (BBC Question Time), and all of the tweets are negative, surely it would be a good idea for the network to try and improve people’s perceptions of the show.

Some businesses like Dell have managed to harness the art of complaining into an online experience which transforms as they put it ‘Ranters to Ravers‘. I.e. people who hate the service to people who rave about it! I think that this form of user generated content is something that journalism and media outlets could learn a lot from.

They connect with their customers online, helping them with problems and listening to their views. Unlike many outlets which people contact and never receive any reply. They try to find solutions to their problems and change people’s perceptions of the company by improving their experience of the product.

Here Dell’s Stephen Jio talks about the project:

If people knew that their views were being dealt with in real time, they would perhaps be more willing to keep listening or watching a show. It would be equally useful for the media to listen to their audience and interact with it as they would know what they like and what they don’t. They could therefore cater to their audience’s every wish and who knows they might see their ratings shoot up…

What do you think?

Is it enough that BBC Question Time only has these ways of contacting them ? Or is it time for them to bring feedback and complaining into the social networking century?

This is a good article about how companies are profiting from customer interaction over social media.

http://www.fishburn-hedges.co.uk/news/articles/new-media-age-event-reputation-online

By Kirsty Malcolm @kirstymalcolm

What are the advantages of using UGC on hyperlocal websites and blogs?

User generated content is extremely important to hyperlocal blogs. The readers of this kind of blog are often those who generate content for it.

People are always interested in what’s happening in their area. Equally if something interesting happens in a local area be it a car crash or a street party, people seem to like to talk about it and connect with other people to see if they know what’s going on.

Blogs and websites can either have simple comments sections to allow people to generate content or they can actively seek user generated content and news using plugins like the box shown below.

Battersea people is a hyperlocal website that focuses on news and events in London’s Battersea area. They have an area on their homepage dedicated to asking its readers about what’s happening in the area:

As you can see someone called “ex-teacher” has just sent in something.

And what are the advantages of asking your readers for UGC?

  • people in the community can be original sources for stories
  • they often know more about what’s happening at a local level than journalists
  • they will be able to comment on the real life situation as it happens
  • they can send in pictures/videos which is especially good if your journalist can’t be there
  • people like to be members of communities so if they see their content being used they are very likely to continue sending in information which maked them a reliable source
  • it can be a great source of case studies

I talked to Anisa Kadri,, the Community Publisher of Battersea People, about how the site uses UGC. She told me that some of the advantages to UGC are finding original stories, getting feedback from readers, and adding value and information to stories that they might have missed.

When I asked about how they regulate their UGC she said that the main regulator is the readers themselves. Anyone can press “report as abuse” on a comment or post and it will be immediately sent to the site administrators who can decide if it should stay or go!

Many people are scared by UGC being on their websites, but in the end a lot can be gained from it. As long as there is some form of content regulation that means that abusive comments or content can be removed it should be ok.

One of the big problems is when people start to say things that could be against the law. People might say something defamatory or libelous.  We’re working on a post to explain all about this right now!

Click here to listen to the interview with Anisa. Or follow the link below:

http://boos.audioboo.fm/swf/fullsize_player.swf

Here are some other websites with interesting articles about UGC and Hyperlocal websites:

User Generated/Community Content

By Kirsty Malcolm @kirstymalcolm

A User Generated alternative to My Big Fat Gypsy Weddings: Savvy Chavvy explained

At the moment there are some 300,000 gypsy travellers in the UK. They have been brought into the public eye by the Channel 4 hit show ‘My Big Fat Gypsy Weddings’. Many however have criticised the show for stereotyping the traveller community.

A couple of years ago before BFGW hit small screens nationwide Nathalie McDermott started Savvy Chavvy an online forum for the traveller community. Having talked to and met people in the community who had experienced many kinds of discrimination and stigmatisation, On Road Media felt it was high time they had a platform to express themselves.

Nathalie explains that on Facebook and other social networking sites the travellers are sent a lot of abuse, stereotyping, and racist commentary.

#BFGW is often a trending subject on Twitter these days…

Twitter screen show bfgw

Savvy Chavvy which actually means ‘young person’ in the traveller community is a place where young ‘gypsies’ generate their own content about their own community.

Nathalie criticised BFGW saying that “C4 says it is shining a light on a community” but actually it is only looking at a tiny part of the society. This causes a skewed interpretation of what life as a traveller is really like. According to her many feel that the show is embarrassing.

Blogs and social networks where people in communities can contribute their own information and experiences may be able to counter the single view. Platforms like this as well as Twitter and Facebook can also be excellent tools for journalists looking for the real people behind the stories, and for generating stories in themselves.

Finally Nathalie told us that it’s important that journalists get to grips with how to build networks online. This is because it’s an invaluable and extensive tool for finding and building networks of contacts and stories. Paul Bradshaw is also a great advocate of building a social community online. You can read more about ‘community strategies‘ on his website.

As a closing comment she said that as journalists we cannot put off learning the essentials of online journalism for any longer. Young journalists may be worst affected by this as well. The first thing employers do these days before taking someone on is to ‘google them’. According to Nathalie if there’s nothing online about you, chances are you’re much less likely to bag the job… so we say get online!!

Here’s the interview with Nathalie:

This is an example of a video from Savvy Chavvy:

This post also show how anyone can generate content for online without lots of expensive equipment. The interview with Nathalie was recorded on a smart phone! Users generate that content!

By Kirsty Malcolm @kirstymalcolm

User Generated content in media discussed at the NUJ Student Conference

I went along to the NUJ (National Union of Journalists) Student conference last weekend and managed to get in a question to the panel about UGC.

From left to right: Marc Vallée (photojournalist) – Heather Brooke (campaigner & author) – Donnacha Delong (VP NUJ) – Shiv Malik (investigative reporter)

I asked what they thought about user generated content in journalism. As an example of UGC I mentioned how the Guardian published MP’s expenses details, and asked readers to take a look and find any information that they might have missed. This is what each of the panelists had to say:

  • Heather Brooke thought it was impossible for just one person to go though huge amounts of data like the expenses information. She said it was a great idea to put the information into the public domain so that more data could be analysed faster.
  • Marc Vallée used the example of the amateur footage of when Ian Tomlinson was pushed over by police at the 2009 G20 in London. This event led to his death. The footage was sent to The Guardian newspaper who published it. He explained that this is a great example of how the media uses UGC to its advantage. He said that twitter is also extremely useful for journalists. They can find out where people are and what’s happening. It is used a lot by paparazzi to find out where celebs are.
  • Shiv Malik thought that ‘citizen journalism‘ and UGC are very important. But he believes there still needs to be a skilled journalist to put the story together. He said that without the journalist and news organization the information wouldn’t get transmitted to as big an audience.
  • Donnacha Delong mentioned that the police at the G20 summit were trying to keep journalists as far away from the protests as possible. He said that journalists were told to go away for an hour or risk being arrested.
  • Shiv Malik concluded by saying that user generated content is not a replacement for traditional journalism. It does however compliment and add important information to journalism. It also helps keep the police and government in check because anyone can publish online and become a part of news.

By Kirsty Malcolm @kirstymalcolm