Category Archives: UGC Breaking News

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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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.       

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….

The search for Japan’s loved ones is on…thanks to social media

The issue

An 8.9 magnitude earthquake. Over 4164 people dead. Fears of radiation poisoning growing. 450,000 people displaced from their homes. These are the result of an earthquake that shook Japan last week.

The aid of User Generated Content

The only thing that has remained largely intact is the internet and has played a pivotal role in helping families find their loved ones since the disaster struck. It must be a horrific time for people who are desperately searching for family and friends, who have no idea of their whereabouts or even whether they are alive or dead.

The best advice is “to continue your efforts to be in contact with your loved one(s) using SMS texting and other social media (e.g., FaceBook, MySpace, Twitter, etc.) that your loved one(s) may use.”

This was the advice given by the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo to U.S. citizens in Japan in the search for loved ones. In the message from the U.S Embassy, people were also encouraged to use the Google Person Finder, Youtube Person Finder and the Red Cross’s Family Links website to try and find people.

Less than an hour after the quake, the number of tweets coming from people in Tokyo amounted to more than 1,200 per minute, according to Tweet-o-Meter. Click here to see people exchanging stories about their searches and experiences.

Person Finder is often created by Google during emergencies because it allows people to leave information about their whereabouts or information about a missing person. At the time of writing, there were about 158,700 records for Japan — more than 140,000 more records than were submitted to the last such site it set up for the victims of the Christchurch earthquake in February.

The Red Cross Family Links site operates in a similar manner, publishing a list of names with contact information of people who want to make it known that they are alive and people whose relatives have indicated they are missing.

Many of these status’ allowed people to get in touch very quickly. There were 4.5 million status updates from 3.8 million users across the world on March 11 that mentioned “Japan,” “earthquake” or “tsunami.”

The latest

Fellow journalists, you may be interested to know that the Japanese Prime Minister’s Office has created an English twitter page for people around the world (and of course beneficial for journalists!) The twitter account @JPN_PMO is translating from the disaster information account @Kantei_Saigai.

Is anyone following @JPN_PMO?
By Linzi Kinghorn