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July 25 2011


Talk on the promise and practice of participatory journalism

During my trip to Australia, I was invited to deliver a keynote at the Screen Futures conference in Melbourne.

In the talk, I explored the promise and practice of participatory journalism.

It draws on the data from my co-authored book, Participatory Journalism: Guarding Open Gates at Online Newspapers.

We found that journalists are navigating uncharted waters – figuring out how to bring in the audience into the professional process of producing journalism at a time when the practice of what we called “journalism” tries to retain its structure and integrity, its rules and roles, its organizations and its traditions.

Here are the slides from the talk.

May 27 2011


LIVE: Session 1B – Sorting the social media chaos

We have Matthew Caines and Ben Whitelaw from Wannabe Hacks liveblogging for us at news:rewired all day. You can follow session 1B ‘Sorting the social media chaos’, below.

Session 1B features: Nicola Hughes, data journalist, Data Miner UK; Alex Gubbay, social media editor, BBC News; Neal Mann, freelance field producer, Sky News; Fergus Bell, senior producer for the Associated Press. Moderated by Suw Charman-Anderson, social technologist.

news:rewired session 1B – Sorting the social media chaos

April 04 2011


April 02 2011


Lessons on how to engage with audiences

Jim Brady, former editor of TBD.com and WashingtonPost.com, set the tone for a professional panel on engaging the audience at #ISOJ by saying they were going to stick to time and leave plenty of time for questions.

First up was Espen Egil Hansen, editor-in-chief of VG Multimedia, Norway. He started by stating that he tells his journalists to spend a minimum of 10% of time interacting and engaging with readers.

Three-quarters of Norwegians visited the site in February, with 87% coming to the homepage, compared to only 4% from Google.

VG’s approach has been to figure out how we can help the readers help each other.

Hansen highlighted how last year during the travel disruption caused by the Icelandic volcano, a developer created a quick and dirty site to help people help each other get home.

In return, readers sent in stories and pictures about their journey home.

VG also has a tool that lets a selecte group of readers correct typos.  5,000 readers applied to correct typos and 400 were selected to fix typos on the site. 17,000 typos were reported last year, said Hansen.

Another example cited by Hansen was the paper’s response to the disaster in Japan.  VG set up a paper with a live feed of Japanese TV, but also updates from journalists and from readers.

He also showed how during the swine flu, VG created a wiki site inviting users to let others know where they could get a flu shoot.

Hansen said the paper had progressed from a monologue to dialogue. But today, there is another viral layer which taps into social media.

He said VG wanted to be something in the middle between traditional journalism and social media.

Washington Post’s approach to Twitter

Amanda Zamora, social media and engagement editor, The Washington Post, described her job as taking the “earmuff off this sleeping giant.”

She talked about how reporters are using social platforms such as Twitter as a newsgathering tool.

“We’ve learnt a lot from Twitter,” she said, for example by using the hashtag to actively frame the conversation.

She outlined the approach as call, response, reward.

The sign of success is if you issue a call, you get a response, said Zamora, not the number of followers. People who take part are rewarded by bring that content back into the Washpost site.

The paper uses Google forms as a way for people to send in what they know on specific stories, for example on power outages in DC.

One of the ways the Post is experimenting is using Intersect, which can blend accounts from both journalists and readers.



February 17 2011


September 10 2010


Cartoon: How to deal with bad comments

Finally a solution to the problem of inane comments on websites.

Thanks to the wonderful xkcd.com

July 07 2010


Looking back on the 7/7 bombings and the birth of user-generated content

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.

Read the full post here…Similar Posts:

July 02 2010


November 26 2009


UGC guidelines stress importance of media literacy

The set of guidelines about user-generated content produced by industry body, the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association (CBA), aims to help broadcasters get the most out of working with the audience.

The guidelines, available as a PDF, cover familiar ground on concerns about quality of the content and potential legal issues. It acknowledges that:

The most apparent benefit for broadcasters of using UGC is that it provides free access to material which they might not otherwise obtain. The most obvious examples are footage of breaking news stories. Recent high profile examples include the post election riots in Iran and the terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

But the guidelines also seek to broaden the way journalists think about UGC, and suggests that it is a way of promoting greater media democracy:

While encouraging ‘better quality’ UGC (however that may be defined) might appear a worthwhile aim, pursuing this goal alone could serve only to further amplify the voices of the better resourced members of the audience and further marginalise the poor and disempowered. The aim of these guidelines, therefore, is to provide guidance on how to encourage a greater diversity of material from a wider range of voices: material that serves both the public and commercial needs of broadcasters and the viewing and democratic needs of the widest possible audience.

The advice focuses not just on how to handle UGC, but also on the issue of media and information literacy. It argues that news organisations would benefit from promoting greater media literacy, by strengthening relationships with audiences and countering claims that UGC is just a way of getting free content.

This is an important part of the equation that is often ignored in the discussion of UGC. The people formerly known as the audience have the tools to report on events around them, but the media can play a part in helping people understand how to “seek, use and create media content”.

UNESCO defines media literacy as the ability to “interpret and make informed judgments as users of information and media, as well as to become skilful creators and producers of information and media messages in their own right”.

Journalism is considered as vital to a functioning democracy, by providing citizens with the news and information they need to make informed decisions. In a participatory media ecosystem, part of this role is providing citizens with the skills and competences to evaluate and create media.

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