Category Archives: Journalism

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

Does BBC Newsnight DUMP guests if they get bad comments on Twitter?

Two weeks ago I saw this tweet.

This really interested me as a journalist who writes about UGC and the power it can have. Most people who consume news and media now follow and comment events on twitter, we have written about this in relation to the Xfactor on #Xfactor and BBC Question Time on #bbcqt. But the revelation that the Editor of Newsnight has a twitter feed in the gallery and uses real time feedback to cull tanking guests really impressed me. As avid reader of this blog you will know we still have something of a trust issue with UGC so we decided to put it to the test (after contacting Newsnight but getting no response).

Theory..

Newsnight ‘data’ set

We watched Newsnight and set up a twitterfall feed with the search #Newsnight, so far so scientific. We then timed how long each guest spoke for and how many positive or negative comments they or the debate that they were having got on Twitter. We then subtracted the negative comments from the positive comments and so each guest receives a single +/- figure. For example. Shaun Bailey received 3 negative comments and no positive ones so he gets a score of -3. We did this on two dates Tuesday 22nd March and Thursday 31st March as we thought it may be slightly more scientific and then we put all the data into a table then a lovely graph thanks to Many Eyes – to see the fully interactive graph click here.

Many Eyes Visualisation

So what have we learnt from this albeit it entirely unscientific experiment..

1. That we need more data to make more of an accurate reading.
2. Any strong reaction on Twitter be it negative or positive means the guest gets more airtime
3. Guests that are hovering near the 0 likeability scores are actually getting less time..therefore boring means less screen time.

It seems that that the initial tweet was right if a guest is tanking i.e boring then they get less screen time! The POWER of UGC is very much alive!

Here are some tweets from John_Crooks when Noman Bentoman, Hisham Matar and Mike O’Brian were talking and they all got amongst the shortest time as they didn’t provoke debate.


Aside from the very many factors that can change. Guests it seems are likely to be dropped if they are dull and get no reaction not bad reaction, after all a programme like Newsnight is all about debate.

As a side note the biggest reaction on Twitter was for a package on the Big Society by Stephen Smith, whose whimsical style seems to have rubbed most viewers up the wrong way..

No chance of that being dropped then..

by JAMES GLYNN @jamesglynn

 

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

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 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/

The future of User Generated Content? CNN, iReport and Open Story.

CNN are pioneered a new approach to UGC and News with iReport and now they are launching a new user generated experience with Open Story. Generated by Users spoke to Lila King – Participation Director of CNN.com who takes us through the last five years of iReport and crucially what CNN have planned for the future with Open Story.

Open Story – CNN’s big UGC jump forward?

Japan Open Story

iReport has existed for almost five years and become more and more intergrated into CNN’s website and coverage of news. Now with Open Story (still in Beta) it takes CNN’s footage and all the perspectives of iReporters and it places it on a map and timeline giving you a full overarching picture of a news story. This rounded approach to user generated content existing together in one realtime platform is a bold one and one that the GBU team like a lot. Check out the SXSW and Japan Open Stories that Lila King Mentions.

So what is iReport?

Back in 2006 CNN first started its iReport initiative. CNN iReport is the network’s participatory news community. CNN iReporters from all over the world come to CNN.com to share video, photo, audio and text they deem newsworthy. Additionally they form communities of shared interests and engage in impassioned discussions.

CNN's iReport Homepage


It began after a number of stories where footage taken on camera phones was more compelling than traditional news organization footage. News events such as the Asian Tsunami, London 7/7 and Hurricane Katrina really shuck up the way we receive news and how news is gathered.

Here is Lila explaining in full

and a little more on the History of iReport…

Can we Trust User Generated Content?

The biggest challenge when it come to UGC is trust so we asked Lila if we can trust iReports and how CNN vet them. She says that iReports are vetted for CNN with the same rules as any other kinds of footage used on CNN staff. iReport has the same editorial philosophy as CNN.

So is UGC the future of News?

According to Lila the power of UGC is in combination with professional journalist as it offers incredible diversity and human viewpoints, but also UGC requires a lot of filtering and curating to make it successful.

iReport in Numbers

  • Typically CNN vets between 5 and 10 percent of the iReports that are received
  • CNN’s iReport has more than 753,000 registered “iReporters” (Source: iReport Server Log Data) with an average of 2.1 million unique users each month through February 2011. (Source: ComScore).
  • In its history the community has brought in 799,959 videos and photos
  • There are an average submission of 15,391 iReports each month on iReport.com.
  • CNN has received an iReport from every country in the world.       

Social Media Replacing Research Surveys?

Many journalists, bloggers and businesses rely on research surveys to direct their products and output.

Research surveys have been vital in the past but the top research executive of Procter & Gamble Co., (Joan Lewis) has said that she expects research surveys to dramatically decline in importance by 2020. The reason?-  social media.

Joan Lewis, is responsible for P&G’s $350 million budget in annual market-research outlays. She has warned that the advertising industry should get away from “believing a method, particularly survey research, will be the solution to anything,” she said. “We need to be methodology agnostic.” However this doesn’t just apply to the advertising industry. It has more far reaching applications to any businesses or media.

Another important element P&G warned was that businesses are not being interactive enough. Indeed, P&G were the only UK company among the top five companies to use Twitter.

Joan told the conference: “The more people see two-way engagement and being able to interact with people all over the world, I think the less they want to be involved in structured research,” she said. “If I have something to say to that company now, there are lots of ways to say it.”

As UGC is recognised by big business we should realize it is just as important in our online community and journalism.

Using online polls, Twitter and other forms of trending provide an insight into the feelings of the online community. As the online community can include a whole strata of the public, it can offer a good cross section and therefore act as an accurate research facility. The ability to target a specific audience by targeting different social media forums is also a key advantage.

Well, what do you think? Vote below!

By Vanessa Holland

Twitter Communication: The Revolution

The Micro-Blogging UGC site that has 200 million users could be seen as either a new-age technology revolution or a symbol of how we have been changed by a new, faster, more public, digital age?

As we celebrate Twitter’s 5th Birthday I take a look at how Twitter has changed the way we communicate online, for good and bad and some important lessons we should learn.

* Faster Information

We should all be aware that information is far more accessible and fast than it has ever been.
From Eygpt to Libya to Katie Price’s love life: information can be shared across the world, in real-time via mediums like twitter than it has been. As such it could be seen as one of the first port of calls for any journalist to turn to in trying to verify information.
We just need to exercise caution in verifying our sources.

* Information Whenever, Wherever

The nature of mobile internet on our phones and laptops we can receive Twitter alerts wherever, whenever. This mobile nature allows us to access information in real-time. This allows us instant access to immediate reactions to situations, be it earthquakes of The Only Way Is Essex, judging public opinion. The #hashtag tool allows you to keep up with trends in the internet and find subjects quickly.

* Online Community and Inclusion

As Miley Cyrus (among other celebrities) return to Twitter this week, it seems as if we can’t escape the online community of Twitter. Nor should we want to be excluded from the Twitter community, for fear of missing the exclusives, and yes even the gossip that Twitter provides. Which leads nicely on to my next point…

* Openess

We thank Twitter for creating the perfect portal for sharing our thoughts with thousands of other people. This provides a forum for those who have taken to Twitter tend to share a lot more about themselves than may be considered wise. This is not just a non too subtle nod at Mr Sheen, but also the like of PJ Crowley, sacked as US State Department Spokesman for his Twitter comments.
Interactivity is also promoted by Twitter, as you are encouraged to interact with the online community. This allows people unprecedented access to people around the world.

To watch the media storm surrounding PJ Crowley’s Twitter comments see below!

* Opportunity

While Top Tweeters are still celebrities and traditional heavyweights of media, it also gives the bloggers, podcasters and online journalists an audience, allowing them a medium to share their journalism, ideas or agendas.

By Vanessa Holland

Comment is Free…but is it the best way to generate your content?

Is CommentIsFree on the Guardian the best place to get your work submitted? Although it is open for anyone to contribute opinions, the articles that are submitted are carefully selected by the editor and therefore must be of a very high standard to be posted on the website.

George Monbiot is a well-known author. Click here to see the full article on the Guardian’s website.

Richard Seymour is also an author and political activist. Click here to see the full article.

What they both have in common is that they can both write and are well-known for their ability to write well. For our fellow journalists out there desperate to publish your own content, perhaps this isn’t the best way to get your ideas across to other journalists. I have picked out some of the best comments from which the articles have prompted to show that perhaps this is the way forward – to get involved in commenting and contributing that way.

You can see the comment here.

You can see the comment here.

. Here is where you can see the comment.

These are both informative and detailed responses that could easily be contributed and generated by any journalist and will be seen by many.

Here are what two journalists said about CommentIsFree:

Jess Parker @markerjparker- “I think Guardian Comment is Free is quite a regulated form of user generated content. I believe you have to submit articles to the editor, meaning it’s not a ‘freeforall’ like youtube or photbucket or flickr. Also I think people often use it to perhaps pursue journalistic ambitions so in a way it’s a top down run and a slightly niche form of user generated content. I submitted one about a year and a half ago, and recieved good feebback from the editor but it wasn’t topical enough to publish at that time.  i think its impressive if young journalists can get work published on there but the quality is not as high as those articles published in the Guardian and the Observer.”

Emily Lingard @EmilyLingard- “I think it would be naive to assume that having an editorial presence contradicts the fact that CommentisFree is User generated. Whenever anyone posts anything online, they either edit it themselves or someone else will look over it or retweet it or comment on it. These are all forms of editing in their own right. I think the kind of articles they select are usually people who have invested interests in the written word and therefore the content is more manufactured but at the end of the day it offers a wide range of opinions.”

And remember,

Comment Is Free …but facts are sacred – CP Scott 1921

By Linzi Kinghorn