Tag Archives: UGC user generated content

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

Advertisements

What is User Generated Content?

User Generated Content (UGC) is changing the way we access our media and how traditional mass media procures its content and connects with its audiences. Although it has a rather clunky and troublesome name (more on that later) it has been around as long as media itself. It is a continuation of the letters page of the paper or the call in to the local radio station.

So what is user generated content?

On its most basic level – content generated by anyone. Content is easier to create now with affordable and accessible technology such as smart phones, flip cameras, blogging tools online etc. However, UGC has developed and evolved over its relatively short life. Now we should think about big and small publishers and then users.

Big publishers -the media giants we all know and love the broadcasters, print titles and online giants such as AOL, Yahoo and MSN. Small publishers -the widest of all categories and includes bloggers, individual websites. Users that’s you! This is why user generated content is such a troublesome term as the meaning has changed since it first came into use around 2005, though we are stuck with it for better or worse.

How do we contribute?

Flickr, Twitter, Digg, Guardian CiF, WordPress, Facebook, Blogspot, Tumblr the list is endless and depends on what you want to do. We’ll be reviewing some of the best technologies for getting your content online soon!

How are the ‘traditional’ Media harnessing UGC?

This is a big theme and one that we are really interested in. So we’ll be exploring it in a lot more detail. All of the broadcasters and papers are starting to get really innovate. Real time updates on twitter  are used as newsgathering sources in emergencies such as the Mumbai bombings. Channel 4 created a ‘snow map’ last year to create an accurate picture of how the country was affected. The new ‘i’ paper has a great section on your views and the blogosphere all collected via UGC. These are just a few of the many ways the ‘big boys’ are getting in on the act

What’s next for UGC?

Although we don’t have a digital crystal ball (it’s on our Xmas list), we’ll be exploring all the latest developments and bringing you updates from some big names in the industry so keep checking the blog.

Lastly, we love comments so get in touch in the comments section or any other way you want email/twitter/facebook.