Category Archives: Mass Media

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

 

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

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

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.       

Channel 4 News launches cuts map in time for Budget – UGC to the max

The developer behind the #uksnow map Ben Marsh has launched a crowdsourced cuts map for Channel 4 to monitor spending cuts across the UK in time for George Osborne’s Budget.

Twitter can be used to report government cuts taking place via this map. On Twitter, the hashtag #c4cuts, a place name/postcode and a link to an article will appear on the map on Channel 4’s website.

So we see a big broadcaster using UGC in a fantastic way, reaching more communities than they might do otherwise. Channel 4 News say they want to “harness the power of social media and the wisdom of the crowd” to find stories they may have missed.

Channel 4 News’s Head Of Online Ed Fraser told Generated By Users: “…if you ask a Channel 4 News presenter like John Snow or Krishnan Guru-Murthy a question or one of our correspondents or producers then you will usually get a reply/answer.

“We are now looking to evolve the next stage of our social media strategy and reach out to the audience to help us develop our journalism both online and then to translate that onto television.  There have been a lot of collaborative style projects online but few that make the translation onto television.

“We hope our Cutsmap will enable the audience to join with us in pinpointing cuts around the country at a local level and it can be a resource for both them and for us to develop stories from.”

Channel 4 isn’t the only broadcaster using innovative Budget-inspired UGC. Sky News will have a Budget calculator available shortly after the announcement so people can fill in their details and see how much better or worse they will be as a result of the Budget. The BBC also has a Budget calculator. And ITV News had a live web chat featuring a panel of experts whom users could post questions to and interact with online.

If you’re in Budget mode, here it is at a glance. And below is some reaction from Twitter:

@drummermik: Wow. A whole penny off fuel per litre. I can now get a couple penny sweets every time I fill up. #Budget

@lightboxstudios: So far it seems the budget is pretty good, especially for small businesses. Nice one George, looking forward to my reduced business rates!

@mancman: @10anta i suggest you watch the BBC, this shocking budget is not going down well with the public, Roll on May 5th when you get massacred

Lots of different opinions then – what are your thoughts on the cuts map/Budget? Feel free to add some UGC to this post with a comment or two!

By Anisa Kadri @anisakadri on Twitter

UGC for Entertainment Journalists

User Generated Content can be a useful medium for all types of journalism. All mainstream news companies provide excellent internet sites, that are linked to Twitter and other social media platforms. Their content relies on polls, videos and content that the wider public uploads.

One aspect of journalism that relies increasingly on social media and UGC is entertainment journalism. There are thousands of bloggers and UGC members who contribute to entertainment journalism.

Below are two case studies that utilise UGC in different but equally successful ways.

Perez Hilton

Perez Hilton is the ultimate entertainment and celebrity blogger.

He has built his career on his website and the infamy it generated. Within the first six months of Hilton’s blogging career, his first blog PageSixSixSix.com was named “Hollywood’s Most-Hated Website” by Us TV program The Insider.

As of April 2009 PerezHilton.com was ranked as the 491st most trafficked website on the Internet (143rd within the US) according to Alexa, the subcompany of Amazon.com.

His infamy has been built on the UGC input on his blogs. Relying on his network of sources of personal contact but also tips given to him by the public via his internet sites. He is dependent on the UGC input to his website for his success. His success has become so monumental that he has branched into mainstream international media, including a slot on Radio 1 and on British TV, see the video below!


Hollyscoop

Hollyscoop is  is an online entertainment magazine focusing on Hollywood media, celebrities, fashion, and “Hotspots”.

Hollyscoop provides a good example of UGC and sourcing information for entertainment journalism. It provides up-to-minute breaking news and exclusive stories, directly from the source. It is also updated 24/7, bringing readers from around the world fresh international content daily.

It also commits to a wide variety of UGC sites, promoting itself and its brand across all social media and online community. It has its own Website, a feed on Twitter, FacebookMySpace, and multiple channels, including channels on Blinkx, 5min, Vimeo,  and Youtube.

Hollyscoop has reached across so many online platforms that they are able to get interviews from all the top celebrities as you can see from the video below.

Both these internet entertainment institutions use UGC to their advantage. Building the online networks they depend on and utilise they have built successful careers as entertainment journalists. The impressive scope of their online networks and the publicity they gain from it show how useful UGC can be to a journalist.

By Vanessa Holland

The Top Twitter 100

Last month The Independent Newspaper published their list of 100 Top Tweeters.

‘Its 200 million users share 110 million messages a day – and if you don’t know who rules the twittersphere, you don’t understand the 21st-century world’ The Independent aim to give their definitive guide of the UK’s tweet elite.’

To see who made the top 100, click here.

The Independent’s list does present a helpful list to those working in the media and those interested in UGC. The list breaks with tradition as it doesn’t place their primary focus on numbers of followers (although they do consider popularity), but also content, interactivity with followers and social impact of their Tweets. This is a welcome change from the usual polls that publish lists of the ‘top tweeters’ that comprise of vacant celebrities.

Their Top 100 is comprised of a wide strata of the public world, not just the Katie Price celebrities of the UK (although she does rank in at number 89). Those who made it into the top 100 Tweeters included politicians, comedians, broadcasters, journalists, scientists, activists, authors and musicians.

The very first person listed is Sarah Brown, wife to ex-Prime Minister Gordon Brown and is called by some “the first lady of Twitter“. She seems notable as she heads the list and rightfully so. Hailed by The Independent as ‘an unexpected pioneer of the medium’ her case seems to show the triumph of Twitter. While she was mocked when she first began Tweeting, and her Tweets are often rather dull. Yet through her endearing nature and her campaigning work that she publishes on Twitter, she has grown incredibly popular. Her interactivity with her followers also commends her as a top Tweeter, an important aspect of any UGC forum.

The Independent argues that ‘she is now more listened to than her husband’. This seems an amazing achievement when she has based it all on her User Generated Content of Twitter. Using her experience in PR to create such a successful online identity,  inviting her husband to guest edit for the day, increasing her following by a thousand. While her Twitter account does not reveal any opportunities for journalism, it does provide an excellent case study for how to manipulate UGC to the best possible capacity.

If a woman who has nothing of particular wit or breaking news can reach the top of a list like this, posting about family walks and the generally mundane then it seems that UGC can be accessible, and useful to everyone and anyone!

By Vanessa Holland