Speaking at last night’s Media Society event, ‘Broadsheet vs Broadband’, Pete Clifton, the BBC’s head of editorial development for multimedia journalism, shared the corporation’s views on user-generated content (UGC) and citizen journalism.
According to Clifton, asking for and receiving UGC helps the Beeb understand what news items have captured the audience’s attention and what stories out there are not being covered.
“It’s gathering in insights that the audience have that we can make sense of and then making it part of our newsgathering process,” he said.
On moderating the vast amounts of images that get sent to bbc.co.uk, Clifton stressed that verifying these was an enormous and serious task. A team working on the BBC’s UGC ‘hub’ have been trained in Photoshop fakery and verifying contributors for this very purpose, he said.
“The day we just put those up without any questioning of whether that’s right or not is the day we’re in very serious trouble.
“It’s gone through all the filters that our journalism would have gone through. It’s quite labour intensive. We’ve another arm of our newsgathering operation – it can ultimately add to the richness of what we do, but we shouldn’t take it lightly.”
Providing an outlet for this UGC and navigating a path through it is all part of the site’s wider remit as a ‘guide’ to alternative views and content online, said Clifton.