Tag Archives: television

Does BBC Newsnight DUMP guests if they get bad comments on Twitter?

Two weeks ago I saw this tweet.

This really interested me as a journalist who writes about UGC and the power it can have. Most people who consume news and media now follow and comment events on twitter, we have written about this in relation to the Xfactor on #Xfactor and BBC Question Time on #bbcqt. But the revelation that the Editor of Newsnight has a twitter feed in the gallery and uses real time feedback to cull tanking guests really impressed me. As avid reader of this blog you will know we still have something of a trust issue with UGC so we decided to put it to the test (after contacting Newsnight but getting no response).

Theory..

Newsnight ‘data’ set

We watched Newsnight and set up a twitterfall feed with the search #Newsnight, so far so scientific. We then timed how long each guest spoke for and how many positive or negative comments they or the debate that they were having got on Twitter. We then subtracted the negative comments from the positive comments and so each guest receives a single +/- figure. For example. Shaun Bailey received 3 negative comments and no positive ones so he gets a score of -3. We did this on two dates Tuesday 22nd March and Thursday 31st March as we thought it may be slightly more scientific and then we put all the data into a table then a lovely graph thanks to Many Eyes – to see the fully interactive graph click here.

Many Eyes Visualisation

So what have we learnt from this albeit it entirely unscientific experiment..

1. That we need more data to make more of an accurate reading.
2. Any strong reaction on Twitter be it negative or positive means the guest gets more airtime
3. Guests that are hovering near the 0 likeability scores are actually getting less time..therefore boring means less screen time.

It seems that that the initial tweet was right if a guest is tanking i.e boring then they get less screen time! The POWER of UGC is very much alive!

Here are some tweets from John_Crooks when Noman Bentoman, Hisham Matar and Mike O’Brian were talking and they all got amongst the shortest time as they didn’t provoke debate.


Aside from the very many factors that can change. Guests it seems are likely to be dropped if they are dull and get no reaction not bad reaction, after all a programme like Newsnight is all about debate.

As a side note the biggest reaction on Twitter was for a package on the Big Society by Stephen Smith, whose whimsical style seems to have rubbed most viewers up the wrong way..

No chance of that being dropped then..

by JAMES GLYNN @jamesglynn

 

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