Blogs, social networks and globalisation of technology has meant that people can now generate their own content and report on their own community to be broadcast to the world.
The rise of user generated content (UGC) presents many opportunities and threats to news organisations. It gives the chance for ordinary citizens to bypass the mainstream media and news outlets and communicate directly with others. This has led many journalists claiming that the rise of citizen journalism means amateurism is triumphing over professional journalists. I know that I for one will search sites like twitter for citizen reports when a breaking news story occurs, as they are often there a lot quicker than the news organisations.
However it also gives news organisations access to news content that they previously would not have. It allows huge organisations such as the BBC to use User Generated Content as part of their news story. This can clearly been seen when reporting on such things as natural disasters and terrorist attacks, as the organisation does not know where these events are going to happen, it can be hard to get a reporter on the scene quickly. An example of this can be seen below:
Also user generated content gives organisations a chance to gain valuable footage of the news story that they wouldn’t have had the opportunity to before. For example the recent Canadian parliament shootings had little information about the event immediately as it came out. However a video that was taken inside of parliament became the main news source for the event and was reported on nearly every news channel reporting the event.
Hermida further goes on to explain how user generated content has impacted news in the 21st Century ‘some of the iconic images in journalism at the start of the twenty-first century have come from citizens sharing their experiences of a news event on social media’. He later goes on to explain how this has changed news media as we have previously known it, stating that ‘media has become a space shared by journalists and citizens’. This again shows the importance of user generated content and the impact that it now has on news reporting
The evolution of social media means that news organisations can now retweet and share the user generated content to their followers, which is often in the millions. The following graph shows a list of the top 10 breaking news accounts to follow on Twitter and the number of followers that they have.
So what does all of this mean to the average day member of the general public?
I feel that this essentially means a greater wealth of knowledge for consumers to gain information from. The fact that large news organisations are now retweeting and sharing user generated content, means that their followers will be able to see information they may not have before. Also the popularity of the news organisations social media accounts clearly shows that the public are finding this information useful and are using it to gain news information. A win win situation for both parties involved; the public get more information on news and the organisations can gain a following and greater awareness of their organisation.