Patrick Smith Emily Fairbairn Alex Webb
By Patrick Smith
Rachel Sterne, founder and CEO of GroundReport.com, and Robert Mackey, blogger for The New York Times’ Lede Blog, discuss how they determine the credibility of news reports contributed online by unknown or anonymous users.
American journalist Rachel Anderson is looking to equip libyan youth with the tools they need to become more effective citizen journalists. She was embedded with Libyan youth throughout Febrary and March and now needs to raise $30,000 to train classes of 15 young people essential reporting skills and how to share their stories with the world through the web.
She is working alongside Small World News, a group specialised in training citizen journalists, who say their project in Libya aims to help people to “report on the revolution around them. The group functions as a make-shift newsroom, responsible for finding, filming and editing original stories. The goal is to create a self-sustaining citizen journalist movement that continues reporting after Anderson and other Western journalists leave Libya.”
If you would like to contribute to the cloud-funded project click here.
In vast countries like Nigeria the mainstream press doesn’t always have the kind of penetration into all areas that one might want. With government propaganda added into the mix, it’s often hard to get a picture of what is going on across the country. Citizen journalism can play an important role in plugging this gap. Shutterfeeds aims to do just that.
This is Nigeria’s first user generated photo agency. Covering everything from politics to fashion it has something to offer everyone. People in villages largely cut off from life in the rest of Nigeria are able to tell their stories though that most accessible medium, the photo.
With corruption and propaganda still a big problem in Nigeria Shutterfeeds aims to “decipher what is propaganda and what is not, providing alternative individualistic news sources”. With elections just around the corner the fledgling agency could play an important role in exposing any cases of violence or vote rigging that might arise.
By Patrick Smith
There are reports coming out of Libya that Mohammad Nabbous, champion of user generated news in the country, has been killed in Libya. He was appenently shot by pro-Gaddafi troops in Benghazi on 19 March.
Nabbous set up Al-Hurra TV that broadcast on Livestream and featured videos made by Libyan citizens often from the front line or places not accessed by mainstream journalists.
There are many factors that have contributed to this downturn, but high among them is the adoption of many of Digg’s features by mainstream media. Its influential nature was its very downfall.
Back in 2006 when the site launched, the news agenda was dictated by large media corporations. Nowadays whether a news story goes viral and gets shared by large numbers of people is more important than where it features on a news site’s front page.
The number of shares that a story gets is the equivalent of a Digg ranking and most media companies now put substantial effort into generating this kind of interest in their stories. Nearly all now feature a plethora of share buttons for different platforms.
There have been other things that have contributed to the sites downfall. It has been dogged with criticism and controversy, not least last year’s Digg Patriots scandal. The Guardian revealed how conservatives were organising themselves to systematically clicking “bury” to downgrade stories deemed to have a liberal slant.
Digg is not dead yet but with all commentators predicting its demise it may not be long until its bell tolls.
Posted in Uncategorized on February 19, 2011
By Emily Fairbairn
As a long-time contributor to HuffPo, Rushkoff writes that he was happy to write for free because it felt like he was part of a community and a more important purpose:
“There’s value being extracted from our labour, for sure, by advertisers or whoever, but the sense was always that we were writing for Arianna – contributing to an empire that spent its winnings bussing people to watch Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert do their thing in Washington. Yes, there are compensating benefits – like getting links or hits or book sales – but it was a very soft quid pro quo based in a sense of shared purpose, and participation in a community beyond the mega-media-corporate sphere of influence.”
But now that HuffPo has been sold to AOL, Rushkoff is not so sure he will want to contribute anymore. So is this the key to user generated content?
When you ask someone to comment or contribute online, the likelihood is that you are asking them to do so for free. So they will need a good reason to expend their time and energy contributing to something which will undoubtedly in turn make money, somewhere, for somebody else.
If a user feels like they are part of something, like they are among other like-minded people, and that the site they are on MEANS something, then they will contribute. Content is rooted in community; you can’t create one without the other.