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Friday, 15 January 2010

UGC online (and breaking news from Haiti)

Just left this comment on Paul Bradshaw's Online Journalism Blog, on a post entitled 'What is User Generated Content?'

I've reproduced it here for your pleasure/pain.

(It's certainly applicable to coverage of Haiti...)

One of the things I’ve been thinking and writing about is the fact that in the specific circumstance of reporting crisis situations, UGC published online inevitably breaks the news.

This is a fundamental change from the role of the “historical UGC” contributions that Paul alludes to in his post (letters to editor etc) and has significant implications for journalists as it threatens one of the pillars of their economic and cultural capital.

Journalists find themselves playing catch up in the breaking news game and incorporating these contributions into their own coverage becomes a vital part of the news process.

It enables traditional media organisations to retain the illusion of breaking news by re-publishing the UGC effectively as their own (even if they do highlight the origin of the source, link, etc).

It also forces journalists into new roles as curators of UGC on the grounds that the content being delivered is often the best or only news content available, particularly in the early stages of any crisis until they can get reporters on the ground.

Furthermore, journalists can add value to UGC through its organisation, presentation, contextualisation and distribution by mobilising resources and expertise on a scale that most UGC contributors do not have.


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