Tag Archives: news

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

UGC in the children’s world: we speak to expert in children’s audience Greg Childs

From online forums such as the CBBC messageboards to interactive sites like moshimonsters.com, children create UGC too!So, I arranged to talk with children’s media consultant Greg Childs, whose company childseye.tv provides digital solutions for the children’s audience. He previously worked for many years at CBBC.

Greg Childs - media consultant providing digital solutions for the children's audience with childseye.tv . Picture taken by Anisa Kadri

Greg set up the BBC Children’s New Media Unit, to develop the first official Websites for key brands such as Blue Peter and Live & Kicking. He told Generated By Users the main differences between the use of UGC by children and adults. He emphasises that children have to be directed more when it comes to using UGC. I noticed how true this was when analysing Newsround’s website. The screen grab below is from the top of Newsround’s homepage, highlighting the importance of UGC in making news accessible for children.

Screen grab of the top of Newsround's homepage

To make news engaging, children are being directed to create UGC by being told they can play games, take quizzes and interact on the site via the chat rooms. Adults need less direction, for instance they may just express their opinions on news as comments or in tweets.

Greg also explained the extent to which Facebook and Twitter are options for children, and highlighted a number of websites encouraging children to explore UGC including moshimonsters.com where children can look after virtual pets and talk about them.

Screen grab of children's website moshimonsters.com

Listen to Greg speak on the above matters below:

I thought I’d split the interview I conducted with Greg in two. He also told me whether his ideas for children’s UGC had changed since he launched the first online forums at CBBC, and what he sees next for UGC in the children’s arena. He thinks we may see even younger children generating content, but not using language… intrigued? Then be sure to listen the second part of my interview with Greg:

By Anisa Kadri @anisakadri on Twitter

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….

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: 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

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.