Tag Archives: 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

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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

Reporting Revolutions: Are we too reliant on Twitter, Facebook and other UGC?

Photo: Maggie Osama via Flickr - Creative Commons License

Egypt has been dominating the headlines and trending on twitter for the last week. The latest in the series of so called ‘twitter revolutions’ that have brought change from Moldova to Iran to Tunisia and is now in the land of the Pharoahs.

But are we overestimating the impact of Twitter and Facebook? Also as journalists as we too reliant on tweets coming through from hard to reach places?

Firstly, Twitter and Facebook don’t bring about or even inspire revolutions, they aren’t out there on the streets egging on protestors. Social Media helps people to shout a little louder and it’s interesting to see that governments are pretty keen to shut them down or block them off (Iran tried and Eygpt plain severed the Internet). But I’m pretty sure that the tens of people that have self-immolated, and the hundreds of thousands that have protested across North Africa these last weeks didn’t do it for the tweets. But as a genuine protest against their autocratic governments based on long term greviances, excacerbated by rising food prices and unemployment.

While Twitter is very useful for real time updates from rapidly emerging situations – how much can we trust what information is put out there?

During the Iranian revolutions when foreign journalists weren’t allowed to enter the country Twitter became one of the key sources of information for foreign news services. But who are we to trust? In his latest book ‘The Net Delusion’ Evgeny Morozov says that twitter and facebook are actually not the ‘freer’ of people but can instead be used to covertly spread disinformation and tighten government control.

So if governments are sometimes using Twitter to further their own aims and severing or shutting down the internet during protests who exactly is getting this information onto the Internet? Blogs, twitter, facebook and youtube are all ablaze with new updates and startling videos.

Yet western journalists who couldn’t reach or didn’t bother to reach people on the ground in Iran, just scrolled down the English tweets searching for #mubarak #egypt or #iranelection and getting whatever info there was. It just seems like lazy journalism.

I accept that Twitter and Facebook are useful for mobilising the diaspora of a nation that is under going rapid political change as well as rasing the international profile of their movement. It just doesn’t seem like it is the best way to report on these events after all wouldn’t most people involved be tweeting in Farsi or Arabic?

**Since posting it turns out that google have introduced a voice-to-twitter service to help Egyptians to continue tweets during the protests.

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