1. User-generated content
and social media
KJB222 Online Journalism 1
September 14, 2010
Guest lecturer: Rosanna Ryan
2. Audience voices
❖ Engaging with the audience is not unique to new media: it
has certain things in common with letters to the editor,
talkback radio, use of vox pops...
❖ But thanks to the internet & other digital technologies like
mobile phones, creating content is simple, and submitting it
to news organisations can be done almost immediately
❖ News editors have heaps of free content to use, but in
exchange they have to give up a lot of control
❖ Comments can be time consuming and angst inducing but
for many people they are the primary way they engage with
❖ How do you want your community to function?
❖ No comments? Comments on some articles? Comments on everything?
❖ Moderated before posting? Moderated after posting? Unmoderated?
❖ Allow anonymity? Force the use of real names? (Ingram 2010)
❖ How do you reward good behaviour? How do you discourage bad behaviour?
❖ Diﬀerent news sites do things diﬀerently.
4. UGC photos
❖ Asian tsunami and London
bombings were a turning
point in how the BBC
content (Wardle and Williams 2008)
❖ At the ABC disasters often
prompt our audience to
submit lots of photos
❖ Tornado strikes Lennox
Head in northern NSW:
photo gallery Audience submitted: Tom Berry
5. The rise of social media
❖ News consumption apparently undergoing another shift
❖ Former audience now going straight to social media -
Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, etc - and sharing
content directly with each other, rather than visiting
mainstream media websites
❖ Tweet traﬃc spikes at times of earthquakes (BBC 2009)
❖ Users provide the ﬁrst notice of events, plus multimedia
content. Does it need to be veriﬁed? How?
❖ Easy to get into trouble if you post before checking:
SMH.com.au “Haiti” illustration vs. original photo
❖ Is it clear who made the original post?
❖ Do they have a consistent identity? What do we know
❖ Can we get in contact and ask to use the image?
❖ When covering the Haiti earthquake, the ABC used photos
originally posted by Carel Pedre, but only after checking out
his background and directly asking permission
7. Good manners
❖ Using content without permission can be seen as bad form:
it might damage reputation and it risks infringing copyright.
❖ Asking permission and saying thank-you is appreciated.
8. Joining the community
❖ Find out what the general public cares about
❖ Listen to what people are saying about your stories
❖ Respond to criticism (sometimes?)
❖ Make connections with sources, which might be followed
up with face-to-face or telephone conversations
❖ Network with other journalists
❖ Use the community to help advertise your journalism
9. On the bandwagon
❖ Each social network has its upsides and downsides e.g.
Flickr often has high-quality images and users often use
permissive licences, but user population is smaller
❖ Facebook is hugely popular but can be diﬃcult to search
and users seem less enthusiastic about engaging with
strangers (e.g. journalists) compared to Twitter
❖ Know how to use everything; diﬀerent stories will call for
❖ Be ready to try out the “next big thing” that comes along
Amos, J. 2009. OMG. Did you just feel a quake? http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/
8413128.stm (accessed September 12, 2010).
Ingram, M. 2010. Anonymous Comments: Are They Good or Evil? http://
good-or-evil/ (accessed September 12, 2010).
Wardle, C. & A. Williams. 2008. ugc@thebbc: Understanding its impact upon
contributors, non-contributors and BBC News. Cardiﬀ School of Journalism,
Media and Cultural Studies. Retrieved from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/
knowledgeexchange/cardiﬀone.pdf (accessed September 12, 2010).