The BBC News Android app has been updated to accept user-generated content and encourage people to send in their photographs and videos of a news event, something user of the BBC News iPhone app had already been able to do.
The Android app, which has been downloaded more than two million times globally since its launch in May, has also been updated to include the addition of homescreen widgets, improved personalisation and the ability to store the app on the SD card.
The latest edition of the ‘Inside BBC Journalism’ series, on the BBC College of Journalism website, looks at the role of journalists working with user generated content (UGC).
Trushar Barot, a senior broadcast journalist in the UGC Hub in the BBC’s London newsroom says he thinks the future of journalism is going to be much more about journalists who work with social media becoming trusted editors of UGC, he says.
We are the ones that have the skills, hopefully, to be able to analyse what’s coming in, give it the context and then report that context.
So a lot of the work we do at the hub in the newsroom is not just about taking content, getting permission and putting it on air, but it’s about trying to authenticate it as well.
Paul Bradshaw’s Online Journalism Blog has an interesting look at user-generated content and comment moderation, and the stories they can produce.
Bradshaw looks specifically at Sarah Palin’s Facebook page, which has been subject to strict moderation in the wake of the assassination attempt on Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. He points out that the decisions to remove certain comments and let others stand can be seen as representative of the page owner’s stance and could potentially give rise to a story.
Bradshaw also warns that trawling through comment threads on political pages is not the same as treading the streets. What you see there is not unadulterated content, it is closer to carefully edited campaign material.
Lost Remote has a post on another media issue to emerge from the Giffords shooting: the spreading of inaccurate claims on Twitter that Giffords had died, and subsequent removal of tweets by news organisations.
Five years on from the 7 July bombings in London, Matthew Eltringham from the BBC College of Journalism remembers the day that sparked the future of user-generated content.
[W]e ‘stuck a postform’ on the first take of the News website’s story and waited to see what would come in. Within minutes our email inbox was out of control – it was clear that something was happening, but we had no idea how to manage the huge number of emails we were receiving and the information they were giving us.
By the end of the day we had received several hundred images and videos along with several thousand emails. It was only with hindsight that we were able to make sense of them and the impact they were likely to have on our journalism.
Since then, the UGC project has grown to a team of more than 20 people, working around the clock and developing “an incredibly sophisticated and nuanced understanding of the ‘who, what, when, where and whys’ of ‘social newsgathering’ or put another way, ‘finding good stuff on the web’.”
There have been many lessons along the way too, leading the BBC to ruthlessly check every piece of user content which gets sent their way.
We always check out each and every image, video or key contact before we broadcast them, to make sure they are genuine and to resolve any copyright issues. When it’s impossible to do that – such as with content sent from Iran or Burma, when contacting the contributors is very hard to do or might put them in danger, we interrogate the images, using BBC colleagues who know the area and the story to help identify them.
Last week Journalism.co.uk attended the INMA and Online Publishers Association (OPA) Europe’s annual conference Outlook 2010 – the event focused on innovation, transformation and making money for media businesses. Follow our coverage at this link.
Two years since its launch user-generated site LePost.fr – launched by Le Monde – attracts 2.5 million unique users a month (not a lot less than Le Monde’s online efforts at 3.5 million).
A team of six specialised journalists, two editors, one videojournalist and one investigative journalist are responsible for producing around 10 per cent of the site’s content – the rest is down to the users, who produce around 500 posts a day. It’s an integration of professional and amateur news – with teams of amateurs ‘coached’ by professionals, says the team.
More from LePost on how the site operates in the audio below:
“Our idea was to put a newsroom at the most dynamic part of the web (…) social media,” the site’s editor-in-chief, Benoit Raphael, says.
“We believe that people are no longer satisfied with vertical news. Traditional journalists choose and produce stories and deliver them to readers. In a networked media like LePost we let people co-choose and co-produce stories.”
Raphael says LePost produces ‘horizontal news’ – news to be shared, commented upon and added to.
A court ruling obtained by UK regional newspaper group Newsquest could have a significant impact on the issue of what protection publishers have in legal cases based on user-generated content on their sites.
In a defamation action, Newsquest had been sued by a solicitor Imran Karim following a report that he had been struck off by the Law Society.
The story attracted a range of comments, both in support and critical of Karim, which were removed by Newsquest as soon as the legal claim from Karim was received.
“Mr Justice Eady concluded that Newsquest websites were acting as hosts of the reader comments for the purposes of Regulation 19 of the Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002 and therefore would not be liable for any damages even if the material was unlawful,” reports HoldtheFrontPage.co.uk.
“He said Newsquest had fulfilled the conditions for protection under Regulation 19, namely that the comments had been posted directly to the sites by third-party contributors without intervention by Newsquest, and that they had acted expeditiously to remove access to the material.”
In this interview with Catherine Gluckstein, the VP of Getty Image’s iStock, which the photo agency bought back in 2006, discusses the difficulties of finding a business model for images from citizen journalists.
Getty’s own foray into the cit-j space saw it buy and later shutdown Scoopt.
“[A] lot of people who take the pictures are not necessarily trying to monetise them – it works best when they send them to the news organisations,” explains Gluckstein.
iStock, which is a pro-am microstock play, is finding success with timeless images, she says. Contributors receive up to 40 per cent commission with images sold to users from $0.95 each.
Gluckstein, who is also CFO of Life.com – the resurrected photo magazine, also comments on the role of social media as a significant driver of traffic to the site.
“UGC is not cheap. It’s many things, but it’s not cheap. It’s extremely expensive to nurture it and to make it something worthwhile. My heart sinks when I hear the union saying that journalists are going to be replaced with UGC,” said McIntosh.
Costs of publishing UGC, such as photos and comments, rapidly and training staff to moderate and contribute to discussions online are often overlooked in the debate over whether publishers should be using it, he added.
When interacting with UGC, in particular comments, blog posts and CiF submissions, it is about ‘encouraging journalists to write the kind of things that kickstart a debate in the right direction’, he said.