User-generated content: oh the possibilities…

29Mar10

Oh Hey Midlands Today, trying to use our news?

In amongst all the arguements questioning the effects of user-generated content on quality Journalism, Midlands Today are openly asking, during their show, for any videos, pictures or stories you have seen during the week for use on the show.

This lends itself very effectively to Jackie Harrison’s quote on the Online Journalism Blog post featured above (from User-generated content and Gatekeeping and the BBC Hub);

“User generated content has been absorbed into BBC newsroom practices and is now routinely considered as an aspect of, or dimension to, many stories. In this sense the traditional barriers which formed the gatekeeping criteria of the 1990s have been altered forever.”


Well, as far as I can see, the BBC are sticking by this within local parameters.

Admittedly, encompassing a full range of opinion within content generated by an (assumed) impartial member of the public into a objective news report is a difficult task.

And, trusting the content to automatically fit ‘the news’, as we know it, is an impossibility; a similar amount of research and background sourcing must be done to expand upon, give evidence to and create a newsworthy package out of the source material recieved.

I think user-generated content is doing the job that a typical interview with a journalist would.

You get the necessary human interest angle and human opinion, as well as evidence that the event actually took place; people write off personal experience as human interest, but it makes everything infinitely more believable at the same time.

If it’s not an intervew, then it’s a perfect source material, showing a newsworthy event actually taking place; flip or mobile phone videos, cameraphone or camera images and even on-site reporting, if we’re lucky enough, all add up to what is essentially the journalism revolution.

Every journalist, whether long established or, like me, in the early days of practicing, has discussed this topic in detail.

Quality Journalism never needs to be threatened by revolution, but only if it takes revolution under it’s wing and adapts.

User-generated content isn’t journalism, it’s content. It needs to be adapted, established and understood before it is fed back out into the world as newsworthy material.

This is journalisms place now; even now, I am forwarding, adapting and informing you of source material that I have adapted to fit a purpose. As long as we maintain the values associated with journalism, and enhance the diea of social capital, we will be fine.

I’m sure of it.

Let’s hope one drop in the ocean of journalism, being me, bright-eyed and bushy-haired, can help just a little bit.

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