Posted by: Ciaran | April 15, 2010

User-generated content: they’re one step ahead

I got in to the newsroom this morning and the first thing the news editor did was to hand me some fairly dramatic pictures of a car flipped on to its roof – a reader who lived near the scene of the accident late last night had seen the sirens, gone out and got some great snaps.

Without those photographs, we probably either wouldn’t have found out at all about the incident or got the very bare details the police were able to provide. In the event, I wrote a story which was up on the website in minutes after we had seen the pictures and will probably have the same copy in print tomorrow.

It was a great example of user-generated content in action, and the two-handed nature of it meant that he had done a lot of the initial actual journalism for me – not only had he spotted the story, he had sent us two well-captioned photographs with details about the incident, which made following it up with the fire service a much simpler task.

Newspapers shouldn’t be afraid of UGC – the contributors often don’t want to be the journalists, they just want to help out.

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