Category Archives: Mass Media

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

The Responsibility of UGC- The Curious Case of Charlie Sheen

The power of User Generated Content has recently been highlighted with the case of Charlie Sheen.

The actor Charlie Sheen made history when he opened Twitter account, amassing over 1 million followers in 24 hours, setting a new record.

And why such a following over such a short period of time? Well it was a response to the seeming mental breakdown of the actor. Sheen’s breakdown since being fired by the producers of Two and a Half Men have been captured in his own uploaded YouTube videos. The ‘Sheen’s Corner’ videos along with his other video rants seemed to expose his erratic behaviour and have become internet hits.

Such was the intense popularity of these videos that at the time of writing this blog that his interview with the ABC news channel in which he announced he was ‘bi-winning‘ as opposed to bi-polar it has been viewed 8,375,801 times.

This is the interview below:

Views on Sheen’s behaviour have ranged from judgmental to the celebratory but what his case demonstrates is the power of UGC.

As a result of his UGC output and the popularity of them, Sheen has announced he is going on tour, called: ‘My Violent Torpedo of Truth: Defeat is Not An Option‘. According to Perez Hilton, the gossip blogger, the shows sold out in under ten minutes.

In financial terms Sheen’s video blogs and Twitter have brought him a tour that is estimated will make him $7 million. That’s about equal to four episodes of his old show, “Two and a Half Men.”

Sheen’s activities have been the cause of much concern in the press, with increasing speculation of his mental health state. His self-published blogs that show his questionable mental health have provoked many people to suggest that authorities should intervene.

In the case of Charlie Sheen, his behaviour has led to considerable financial gain. However it does raise the question the responsibility of the public in reaction to UGC such as blog posts.

As UGC contributors we also have the responsibility of what we publish and the reactions they inspire. Charlie Sheen’s UGC output made him international news, a seemingly constant feature in the news reports as he published video after video, Tweet after Tweet. We may question the content but we cannot question the prominent role of UGC and its value in public interest cases.

By Vanessa Holland

POLL: Do YOU like or trust UGC when used in OUR news?

Ok so over the last few months we have brought you loads of interviews with the ‘big-wigs’ of UGC and News organisations. Now we want to know what YOU our loyal readers and lovers of online journalism think…

In case this is your first time here get yourself up to speed by what we mean by User Generated Content.

A great new post coming just vote in these two polls…ALSO if you have anything else to add please either let us know on our twitter @generatedby user Or comment down below!!! Thanks

and….

Reporting Revolutions: Is video UGC killing off traditional reporters and cameraman?

Since the ousting of Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January and onwards our TV screens have been filled with images of the Arab uprisings, from Egypt to Jordan to Bahrain to Libya and increasingly to Yemen. But what has really struck a chord when looking at the reports is the way that UGC has been used or hasn’t been used.

This video on youtube was used in a channel 4 news broadcast ( but CNN have loaded this version onto youtube). It shows an Egyptian police van running over civilians. This is the power of UGC. In a world where everyone has a mobile phone, every dark deed can be captured whatever the restrictions on journalists, and the light can be shone on truths that would have otherwise been missed.

UGC also presents a problem for the reporters on the ground, who are trying to navigate their way through the protests and find stories which bring the issue alive. In the ‘age of information’ editors back in London, New York, Doha or wherever can see everything from all kinds of sources before the reporter can. Editors can direct reporters to include shots, or UGC or information not gathered on the ground themselves. This prescriptive top down reporting negates the role traditional of a reporter and instead makes them more of a curator or compiler of information. Jon Snow has written about this very issue this week in PORT magazine.

“Where once I was one pair of eyes witnessing a story and sending my account back to London, I am now charged with retrieving the work of many pairs of eyes and putting together an apparently holistic account of an event. We call this “sausage machine telly”. In the competitive multiplatform age in which we live, this age will not last long. Why not? Because it is neither distinctive, nor is it particularly interesting.
A big problem with sausage machine telly is that it spawns sausage machine reporters. In too many instances, reporters are no longer easily distinguished from one another. The sausage system is not
breeding or maturing new talent to take over the airwaves when we are gone.”

This ‘sausage machine telly’ is exemplified here in an ITN report from Libya. Except it isn’t…as it explains foreign journalists are banned from trouble spots (unlike Eygpt) and mobile phone networks and the Internet have been cut so the report relies solely on UGC and a voiceover to tell the story.

I’m not saying that UGC isn’t both compelling and useful but we must be careful how we use it. The role of a reporter is an important one, they are trained to find stories on the ground at short notice and to bring a human element to the news. UGC can be very useful in places such as Libya because of the restrictions placed on journalists. UGC can provide the pictures from even the most closed off parts of the world…the problem is how we verify it and interpret the images.

Here is a report from Sky’s Alex Crawford RTS Journalist of the year who got into Zawiyah in Libya and filmed this report.

It is all the more powerful for a trained reporter putting the story together and automatically trustworthy for it and exactly the sort of journalism that Jon Snow is praising in this account of his work in Haiti.

“We were so cut off from one another on the ground that we could not share pictures. Everything I transmitted we researched, retrieved, shot, edited, and beamed back to London ourselves. Only the local satellite dishes worked, dependent on their own generators and fuel – the satellite paths to the outside world were almost the only elements the earthquake had not reached. News desks knew instantly the massive pressure we were under and left us alone. After we’d sent our reports they would bask in their novelty, pain and exclusivity.”

Traditional journalists and cameramen are still very important as you can see with the difference between ITN’s and Sky’s reports. However UGC is a fantastic addition to a reporters toolbox, but one that must be used in addition to solid reporting not in place of it.

James Glynn

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