the transition to digital journalism
User Generated Content
Blogs, mobile devices, social networks, microblogging and other digital tools have allowed people to publish their own stories and cover their own communities.
YouTube, which was purchased by Google, is a wildly popular site where people can post videos. It's motto is "Broadcast Yourself."
Flickr is a site owned by Yahoo! where people can upload and share photos.
This proliferation of user generated content (UGC) represents yet another challenge and opportunity for news organizations.
Citizens can bypass mainstream media entirely and produce content and communicate directly with others. Many journalists have decried this rise in "citizen journalism" as the triumph of amateurism over professionalism.
But many news organizations are also inviting citizens to co-produce the news and contribute to the news organizations' websites.
The Bivings Group, in a 2008 survey of the websites of the 100 largest newspapers, found that:
- 58 percent accepted user-generated photos
- 18 percent accepted user-generated videos
- 15 percent accepted user-generated articles
Examples of user generated content at news organizations include:
- Bakersfield Voice - an online edition of the Bakersfield Californian produced by citizens. This began with the Northwest Voice covering a section of Bakersfield that was produced both online and in print.
- iReport - a special section of CNN's website where people can post their own news stories, including video or photos.
- Free the Files - A project by ProPublica asking people to analyze filings by television stations about political advertisements to create a database of campaign ad spending. Nearly 1,000 people participated in the project and $1 billion in advertising purchases was logged into a public database.
See this list of local community news sites and services that draw on citizen journalism, some created by news organizations. some by online start-ups, and others entirely by citizens.
Readings and Resources
- The Limits of Peer Production: Some Reminders from Max Weber for the Published (pdf) - New Media Society, 10/12/2010
- Working with community volunteers: Tips from Kwan Booth - Amy Gahran, News Leadership 3.0, Knight Digital Media Center at USC, 10/14/2010
- From “write us a post” to “fill out this form:” Progress in pro-am journalism - Jay Rosen, PressThink, 6/7/2011
- Confidence Game: The limited vision of the news gurus - Dean Starkman, Columbia Journalism Review, November 2011
- Debating Starkman’s “Confidence Game:” Rounding up responses - Columbia Journalism Review, 11/14/2011
- Institutions, Confidence, and the News Crisis - Clay Shirky, 12/2/2011. Response to Dean Starkman's Columbia Journalism Review story
- The Hole In FON Theory: Continuing the discussion about the future of news with Clay Shirky - Dean Starkman, Columbia Journalism Review, 12/28/2011
- Citizen Video: A Primer for Reporters - Knight Digital Media Center at UC Berkeley weblog, 1/23/2013