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Citizen Journalism, User-Generated Content and Crowdsourcing April 18, 2009

Posted by Sarah Lacy in symposium.
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The second panel of Saturday’s symposium covered “Citizen Journalism, User-Generated Content and Crowdsourcing: Who is Contributing to the Conversation and Why?”  Academics from all over the United States and the world contributed information they had gathered on user interaction and how it affects journalism.  User-generated content, or UGC, has been an interesting issue for online journalism.

Cindy Royal, an assistant professor at Texas State University at San Marcos, moderated the discussion.  She put forth the question, “Why do we spend all this time communicating online without any expectation?” Many journalists are capitalizing on the audience’s enthusiasm to participate.

New technology has also changed user-generated content.  Royal showed through her twitter account that audience feedback could be a great source of information.  Fifteen minutes before the presentation she asked the twitter universe for some examples on why we use social media.  The quick and thorough response from users is an example in itself of why social media is beneficial.

The first presentation by Na’ama Nagar of University at Albany-SUNY discussed “The Loud Public: Readers’ Comments in Online News Media.”  Although a political scientist and not a journalist, her research looked at comments on news websites in both the U.K. and Israel.  She took a look at how comments are controlled and how they influence editorial decisions.  There are many levels of user interaction in the talk back feature of news websites.  The anonymity of users can vary and the quality of feedback can change from one website to another.
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Uploading photos and making comments are what people do online April 5, 2008

Posted by Robert Rich in symposium.
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Social networking websites can be a tool for journalists and they are going to have to learn to harness the power of these sites, Texas State’s Cindy Royal said.

Royal presented her paper What Do People Do Online? Implications For the Future of Media”.

“People want to do something when they go online,” Royal said. “They don’t want to just read a story or passively watch a video.”

The study found that the most common activity for social networking users were uploading photos and making “wall” posts, and the least common were creating surveys and selling items.

“As the web becomes more social, journalists are going to have to decide what their role is going to be,” Royal said.

Royal also mentioned a business model championed by Dallas Smythe that says companies are no longer selling things to audiences, but instead culture companies are selling audiences themselves.