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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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The Statesman explains how to report on Twitter April 17, 2009

Posted by Stephen Keller in symposium.
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The Austin American-Statesman ranks among the top ten most followed newspaper Twitter accounts.

Robert Quigley, Internet Editor for the Statesman and the paper’s Twitter wizard, explained to journalists Friday how he got to the top of the social media’s foodchain.

“I think most of yall know you probably should be on Twitter,” he said.

Quigley said when starting out on @Statesman, he decided to break away from most other news accounts and not use a Twitter feed, basically an RSS feed that spews headlines into tweet posts.

Instead, he set out to provide a more conversational approach, both linking to stories and talking back and forth with readers. Through this, Quigley said he was able to find out what stories his Twitter audience wanted to read.

“I learned over time by asking what my followers want to see,” he said. “Right now, we’re at a point in journalism where people are having conversations on social media. If we’re not there, we become irrelevant.”

Quigley solidified the Statesman’s dedication to the social media network during Hurricane Ike. To provide up to the minute details, he started the account @TrackingIke.

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