Tag Archives: Content

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

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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

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

How the BBC uses UGC to its full advantage: Part One

Fellow journalists. To what extent is is okay to use information provided from Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites? Your editor asks you to find some information on a specific topic and you find yourself flicking through thousands of tweets by the normal people instead of a verified source. Should you use citizen created journalism that you cannot 100% verfiy?

We are in an age of ‘internet’ where lots of information is sourced from the web and normal people like to contribute to the ongoing news and travel in particular via tweets and phone calls to radio stations.


Also, in bigger situations like Tunisia and Libya, citizens are sending in videos and photographs. But how do we trust this information and can we use it?

Matthew Eltringham, the Assistant Editor of Interactivity for BBC News, has tried for years to combine the BBC’s impartiality with the flood of user-generated content and social media communication whilst newsgathering for a particular story. Because the BBC wants to use all the information it can get from Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, emails, texts etc, Matthew has been working to combine UGC with other information.

So, comes the classification of the Light Side and the Dark Side. The ‘Light Side’ of the Line of Verification is something the BBC regards as ‘true.’ The ‘Dark side’ is not considered true. In the past, the BBC just wouldn’t have broadcast it if it hadn’t been verified by two sources, but times are changing. The rest of society, the public, already know what’s going on on the dark side because we live it; we see and hear it from first hand sources on Facebook and the like and experience it daily before big news organisations have time to verify it (mumsnet is a good recent example).

Using these dark sources is invaluable because not only is it coming from an online source, but it’s the best way to find and connect with your news! It’s more than just rumours, it is an informal narrative of the story you are trying to write. But just make sure you present it in that way and be clear to express it as a non-validated source. Of course, there are fuzzy or wobbly lines of verification, because information you find will have elements of truth in it. As Matthew says,
“We need to change our reporting activity to engage with ‘stuff’ on the dark side of the line 
as part and parcel of our daily journalism. Social media unleashes the capacity of people to publish and share rumour, lies, facts and factoids. We – as a trusted broadcaster (along with other journalists of course) – become increasingly significant as a reference or clearing house, filtering fact from fiction.”

We need it in this modern age and there is nothing wrong with using it. This distinction between what is produced by journalists and the public shows that even big corporations like the BBC are striving to incorporate UGC into their reporting so there’s nothing wrong with us doing it. On work experience at the BBC over the Christmas holidays, I was using Twitter and Hootsuite in the search of new and original stories. Perhaps this will be of help to you.

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

Karl Schneider from Reed Business International on how Business to Business publications are using User Generated Content

We had a chat with Karl Schneider, editorial Development Director of Reed Business International, about how his publications are using UGC. He told us that User generated images are the most widely used form of UGC across his Business to Business publications.

They use UGC because RBI is comprised of niche publications. It is therefore often more beneficial to use user content as it is their users that have the most knowledge and access to niche subject matters.

He gives a great example..Farmers Weekly live-tracked the spread of crop disease with data collected and mapped by users. UGC was then effectively helping save farmers crops. By providing more accurate and speedy updates issued by farmers themselves, they were able to share and spread information much faster and more efficiently than traditional media.

Karl told us that this is why UGC is important to RBI:

  • 70% of their revenue comes from online
  • They aggregate user sourced information eg. tractor theft/crop disease which is very useful to their audience, and therefore brings them to the website
  • They create structures so it’s easy for people to add their own information. This can help add essential information to a story that a journalist might not know
  • Forums can help create content for their journalists
  • They can immediately involve the audience in the journalistic process
  • Their readers can let them know what information they need thus creating story ideas for their journalists

If you want to hear more you can watch the interview here:

It could therefore be said that publications can benefit hugely from their audience’s specialist knowledge.

By Kirsty Malcolm @kirstymalcolm