Mini Assignment 3

User-Generated Content (UGC) is a fairly self-explanatory term. It refers to a journalist or a news outlet using their audience’s content as a source for their stories, whether that is by using their audience’s experiences and responses, or by using their photographs, video footage or audio.

Both BBC News, which is the outlet most often used to study UGC (Cook, Knight, 2013), and Sky News covered the same story, thieves using smoke bombs in Venice, and both used different levels of UGC.

One key, and simple, way to use UGC in content, is through a comment system (Cook, Knight, 2013), which surprisingly, neither the BBC or Sky use on this story.  Their content could benefit from a comment system, especially on stories like these, where it happened to a group of the general public, as there will be people that will have experiences to share. Comment sections are also a good way to bring traffic to a story, as when a comment is posted, replies can follow and creates conversations that people will come back repeatedly to check in on, especially if the comment is interesting or controversial (Cook, Knight, 2013).

Both the BBC and Sky News use different video footage in their news story. Both videos are shot on a mobile phone from somebody who was at the event, and is therefore user-generated content. One issue with UGC is whether citizens should be payed for their content or not. Paying for content would grant exclusivity to the news outlet, however, the BBC never pay for their UGC, therefore the person who filmed the video they used, would be able to share it elsewhere (Cook, Knight, 2013).

Sky News used far more UGC in this story than the BBC. The opening photo is sourced from, and credited to, somebody’s Instagram. Their video footage was from a citizen at the event, as were their quotes for their story, taken from the Twitter page of the video’s owner. This technique could be considered crowdsourcing, “soliciting raw material from the users- the crowd- prior to completing, or sometimes even starting, a story,” (Cook, Knight, 2013, p.120) as without this content, there wouldn’t have been much of a story.


Cook, C. Knight, M. (2013) Social media for journalists. London: SAGE Publications Ltd


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