Tag Archives: user generated content

BBC Future of Journalism conference day 2: more reflections (part 1)

The more interesting of the sessions at the BBC’s Future of Journalism conference came on the second day.

Head of BBC Newsroom Peter Horrocks spent most of his session fielding questions from employees concerned about how their particular corner of the corporation would be affected by multimedia newsrooms. That aside, general themes from his presentation and responses to questions included:

  • a need for a broader range of skills, such as information design and software development
  • While strong single-platform performers will be encouraged to continue doing well on that platform, everyone else will be encouraged to work across platforms
  • a need to reach audiences the BBC (and other news organisations) are struggling to engage with, particularly young C2 audiences

User generated content

The second panel, on user generated content, was probably the most interesting of the two days – mainly because it was also the most diverse, including Sky’s Simon Bucks and Paul Hambleton from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation alongside BBC Sport Online’s Claire Stocks, Matthew Eltringham from the BBC’s UGC hub, and Chris Russell from Future Media and Technology. Continue reading

3 wishes for social media in 2009

This was published as a guest post on Shane Richmond’s Daily Telegraph Technology blog:

Media organisations are still barely getting their heads around social media. They look at a conversation and see ‘vox pops'; they look at a community and see a market. They ask for ‘Your pictures’ and then complain when they get 1000 images of a mild snowfall.

They ghettoise viewers into 60 second slots at the end of the news bulletin, or ‘Have Your Say’ sections on the website. They can see the use of blogs and Twitter when they can’t access a disaster area and are desperate for news, but the rest of the time complain that they’re ‘only for geeks’ or ‘full of rumour’. And they advertise, when they should socialise. Continue reading

Lessons in community from community editors #7: Angela Connor of WRAL.com

I’ve been speaking to news organisations’ community editors on the lessons they’ve learned from their time in the job. Today, Angela Connor, Managing Editor/User-Generated Content WRAL.com and GOLO.com

1. Acknowledge good work

As a community manager, it is important to make your members feel valued and appreciated. When you come across a great blog, interesting comment or great photo, send your compliments to the author, and do it publicly on their profile page or directly on the content.

Remember, you’re the community leader and your opinion matters a great deal. So don’t be stingy with it. Positive reinforcement goes a long way, and it will make that member feel valued and vested. Once that happens, they’re in for the long haul.

2. Ask for help

As the person responsible for the well-being and growth of the community, it’s easy to feel and operate like an island, putting all of that work on your own shoulders.

But as the community grows, so does the number of stakeholders. Use them to your advantage.

Contact your top posters and most involved members and ask them to greet and reach out to new members. Ask them to work on a community-driven FAQ. Tell them what kind of content you’d like to see more of and ask them to help you build it.

Not everyone will jump right in, but you may be pleasantly surprised by the level of response.

3. Know when to walk away

Community management is a tough job and there are days when it can be extremely stressful. From trolls running rampant to direct abuse from visitors and an overflowing inbox filled with pettiness, sometimes it can really take its toll.

When you find yourself feeling like your head is going to explode or as though you’ve reached the end of your rope, get up and walk away. Or better yet, log off the site and just take a deep breath.

Find a message board for community managers and vent with like-minded souls familiar with your plight. And remember, there’s always tomorrow.

Yale-based online magazine launched: interview with Roger Cohen of Yale Environment 360

Earlier this year, Yale Environment 360 launched as an environmental, online-only publication with an international audience in mind. The articles cover global and national environmental issues and concerns.  Allison White spoke to Editor Roger Cohn about the publication’s online goals for the magazine and its audience.

Why did you choose to go solely online? What are the benefits and draw backs?

We chose to go solely online for two reasons: the first is that we saw it as a way to reach a wider and truly international audience.  We are covering global environmental issues, and we are looking to have readers internationally.  Continue reading

Lessons in community from community editors #2: Mark Fothergill, The Guardian

I’ve been speaking to news organisations’ community editors on the lessons they’ve learned from their time in the job. In the 2nd of the series, the Guardian’s Mark Fothergill:

1. Getting the tools right for the job are ultra-important, both front end and back end:

Too many sites knock together something that ‘will do’ and it always comes back to haunt.

An oft-made mistake is spending lots of time on front end, user-facing functionality and spending no time thinking about how to moderate it.

Additionally, once users have tools/functionality, good or bad, they grow accustomed to them and when you then attempt to ‘improve’ the offering at a later date, they inevitably don’t like it and you can lose a sizeable portion of your community.

2. Define your role (and more specifically, the role of the moderation team):

If it’s not clear to other departments, particularly editorial, that the final decision on the moderation of any piece of user generated content lies with you, it can cause numerous problems. Other departments should have a say in procedures and should have a higher priority when it comes to 50/50 decisions, but they should respect the decisions of the moderation team, that are based on both experience and policy.

This is the only way to maintain consistency across your offering. Users won’t know if they’re coming or going if it appears there are a number of different moderation policies across a site that they see as being one entity.

Slight difffences between moderation on, say, Sport and Politics are to be expected, but not wholesale differences, especially when users are only asked to follow one set of community standards.

3. Deal with user complaints quickly:

If you’re not on top of user complaints within a reasonable time-frame, you’re fostering problems and problem areas. Dealing with a piece of content calling someone a “wanker” within 15 minutes, for instance, can prevent a flame war from ever getting off the ground. Deal with the same complaint after 2 hours and you’re likely to be mopping up for another hours afterwards.

Quick response times help to protect yourselves from a legal standpoint and, at the same time, help to protect the users who are much happier in the knowledge that a piece of reported content, that they deem to be offensive or inappropriate, has been acted upon swiftly. Who wants a system where you report someone telling you to “F off” and, on a regular basis, the comment is still there 8 hours later?

Money, money, money (if you’re a community org or blogger)

If money’s what you’re after, here are some avenues opening up:

The Knight Community Information Challenge is offering $20 million to support US-based initiatives aimed at “using media and technology to better serve local communities with information.” Interestingly the focus seems to be on community organisations rather than media organisations. Continue reading

Some questions about blogging, from a student

Another day, another set of questions from a journalism degree student – this time, one of my own, Azeem Ahmad. If you want to help him by answering the questions, post your comments below.

How important is blogging to you, and your business?

If my ‘business’ is education and freelance journalism, then: enormously important on every level: generating ideas, gathering information, publishing stories and ideas, and marketing and distributing those and, I suppose, myself as a journalist and (*cough*) academic. I find conversation extremely helpful in working through ideas and finding new information, and blogging is a wonderful way of having that conversation with some very well informed and intelligent people. I hope it makes me more intelligent and well informed in turn. Continue reading

Something for the weekend: Comiqs

Last week I introduced the ‘Something for the weekend’ feature where I post a link to an online tool which has potential journalistic applications.

This week’s tool is Comiqs,

“a service that lets our users create and share their comic-style stories with the community. We aim to provide our users with easy to use tools that transforms their most cherished and most memorable photographs into something fun. We also aim to build to build a fun and light-hearted community where people can hang out to have a laugh or two.”

Now there’s a rich history of comic strips and graphics in newspapers. Satirical cartoons are an obvious application of this.

Could Comiqs introduce a user generated element to that too?

The site already has a News and Politics section, while ‘People and Personalities‘ also has potential for satirical content. But the other categories bear looking at too. Life story and How to and tutorials have clear magazine equivalents.

There’s a lot of crap as always with UGC, but categories like ‘top rated’, ‘most viewed/discussed’ etc. should help filter through.

The site could also act as a platform for a news site’s readers – give them an image to download and point them to Comiqs to create the caption.

Some obvious problems: no RSS feeds; no way of knowing what language something is in before you click or search.

But lots of potential. Any ideas?

Launching an environmental news website – four weeks in

As you have probably worked out, this year’s Online Journalism students have been building up towards launching an environmental news website. This week the site went public, and I thought I’d take the opportunity to reflect on the lessons learned so far…

The Background

The site is the final year project of two final year journalism degree students – Azeem Ahmad and Rachael Wilson. The decision was made to launch an environmental site because of the increase of investment in this area from a number of news organisations, and also because of a local connection – more of which later.

Azeem is responsible for the more technical side of the site, which he has built from scratch using the open source content management software Joomla.

Azeem has been blogging his progress with the software, including the frightening experience of having the site hacked into by the creator of a theme Azeem installed.

Rachael has the responsibility for editorial, which means writing for the site herself, but more importantly managing 14 second year students on the Online Journalism module as they try to build a news site on a subject most have never written about. She’s also been blogging her experiences.

Week One: Choosing a name, assigning beats, making connections

After some cheesy brainstorming, the very literal name ‘Environmental News Online‘ was chosen for the site for the simple reasons of search engine optimisation and domain name availability. The abbreviation ‘ENO’ lent it more character. Continue reading

Making money from journalism: new media business models (A model for the 21st century newsroom pt5)

In the final part of the Model for the 21st Century Newsroom I look at how new media has compounded problems in news organisations’ core business models – and the new business models which it could begin to explore.

Let’s start by looking at the traditional newspaper business model. This has rested on selling, in a broad simplification, three things:

  • Advertising. Put more explicitly: selling readers to advertisers.
  • Selling content to readers, and, twinned with that:
  • Selling the delivery platform to readers – i.e. the paper

Developments in the past few decades have eaten into each of those areas as follows: Continue reading