Amateur Footage: A Global Study of User-Generated Content


1 Anthony de Rosa, “Disconnect Between Traditional Media and UGC,” 12 Aug. 2013,

2 See and http://rooreynolds. com/2009/05/07/alternatives-to-ucg/ for two discussions about the widely shared opinion that the phrase UGC is unpopular and actually unhelpful.

3 C. Wardle and A. Williams, “ugc@thebbc: Understanding its Impact Upon Contributors, Noncontributors and BBC News,” AHRC Knowledge Exchange, 2008, knowledgeexchange/cardiffone.pdf.

4 The five days we analyzed were: November 27, 2013; November 30, 2013; December 2, 2013; December 5, 2013; and December 11, 2013. The website capture software failed on three of the 40 occasions that are included in this sample. For those days, the previous day was analyzed.

5 This report analyzes the role of social media in the Syrian conflict and demonstrated the scale of activist networks uploading content. See M. Lynch, D. Freelon, and S. Aday, “Syria’s Socially Mediated Civil War,” United States Institute of Peace, Jan. 2014, publications/syrias- socially-mediated-civil-war.

6 Average refers to the mean average.

7 N. Thurman and N. Newman, “The Future of Breaking News Online? A Study of Live Blogs Through Surveys of Their Consumption, and of Readers’ Attitudes and Participation,” Journalism Studies, 2014,

8 The UGC video was actually submitted directly to GuardianWitness, the UGC initiative from the Guardian. The video was so dramatic that it was syndicated to a number of different news organizations, including the BBC. It is also worth noting that the video was not described as UGC or credited.

9 Two non-news features on CNN International included very high numbers of UGC.

These were not included in this table as we wanted to compare stories that appeared on more than one channel.

10 A nice roundup of recent discussion about this subject appears as part of Neiman Journalism Lab’s weekly update here: handling-of-nsa-files-and-the-value-of-viral-content/.

11 The only content that could be described in this category was a two-minute roundup showcasing online responses to Miley Cyrus’ appearance at the American Music Awards in front of a giant lip-syncing cat. It showed the audience’s responses, which appeared in tweets, Vine videos, and pictures posted to social networks.

Amateur Footage: A Global Study of User-Generated Content in TV and Online News Output 132

12 The Economist, “Drones Often Make News. They Have Started Gathering it, Too,” 29 Mar. 2014, gathering-it-too-eyes-skies?fsrc=scn/tw/te/pe/eyesintheskies.

13 The role of social media, in terms of documenting human rights abuses, is discussed in this article: C. Koettl, “The YouTube War: Citizen Videos Revolutionize Human Rights Monitoring in Syria,” MediaShift, 18 Feb. 2014.

14 J. Harkin, et al., “Deciphering User Generated Content in Transitional Societies: A Syria Coverage Case Study,” Internews Center for Innovation and Learning, 2012, default/files/resources/ InternewsWPSyria~2~012-06-web.pdf.

15 This is discussed is detail by Chris Paterson in his chapter, “Global Television News Services,” in Media in Global Context, ed. A. Sreberney-Mohammadi et al. (London: Arnold, 2003), 145–160.

16 Storyful was acquired by News Corp in December of 2013. See “NewsCorp Acquires Social News Agency Storyful,” NewsCorp Press Release, 20 Dec. 2013, news-corp-acquires-social-news-agency-storyful/.

17 EBU members,, accessed 7 May 2014.

18 There have been a number of articles about the rise of the hoax, and simultaneous interest by the audience when these are debunked. See viral-debunk and the-twitter-account.

19 In January of 2014, The Verification Handbook was published by the European Journalism Centre. It was edited by Craig Silverman and includes detailed explanations of how to verify digital content. It is available at

20 BBC Trust (2012) and BBC Trust (2013).

21 This is the title of a study by Nicola Bruno, published in 2011.

22 M. Ingram, “The Future of News Isn’t About Breaking News Scoops, It’s About Credibility and Trust,” GigaOm, 7 May 2014, news-scoops-its-about-credibility-and-trust/.

23 “YouTube & News: A New Kind of Visual Journalism,” Pew Research Center: Project for Excellence in Journalism, 2012,

24 There is also a significant problem caused by the lack of legal precedent. One of the most confusing elements is that within YouTube’s Terms and Conditions, downloading video is prohibited. However, it is in the interest of the platform that high-quality video to be seen on news broadcasts as it might drive traffic back to the site, and therefore increase view counts and revenue. This leads to confusion around what is legal and illegal.

25 The ethics of using content published on social networks was raised after BuzzFeed published a series of tweets sent by women about the clothes they had been wearing when they were sexually abused. It led to a number of discussions about the ethics of embedding content that was not originally created with the intent of ending up on a news site. This article by Slate provides a useful roundup of the debate.

26, accessed 12 May 2014.

27, accessed 12 May 2014.

28 S. Myers, “How Citizen Journalism has Changed Since George Holliday’s Rodney King Video,” Poynter, 3 Mar. 2011, has-changed-since-george-hollidays-rodney-king-video/.

29 M. Little, “A Public License for Online News Video,” Storyful blog, 16 May 2013, http://blog.

30 Final checks against the data included in the first phase of this report highlighted a couple of discrepancies. We apologize for that and can ensure these numbers are correct.

31 J. Guillame, “33 Hilarious Reactions to NewsCorp’s Insane Watermarking of Packer Punch-up,” BuzzFeed, 5 May 2014, on-packer-punchup-pics.

32 A dopesheet is metadata that agencies send to accompany a video package that describes the content of the video in written form. It includes a written shotlist, storyline, dates, restrictions on use, and crediting requirements.

33 See, accessed 12 May 2014.

34 Jenny Hauser writes about the importance of transparency regarding who is uploading content and their motivations for doing so here: journalism-in-the-age-of-the-citizen-journalist.

35 This event was discussed by The New York Times in its Lens Blog; Reuters issued a reply a few days later. See syria-arise-after-freelancers-death/?~p~hp=true&~t~ype=blogs&~r~=0 and http://petapixel. com/2014/03/16/reuters-responds-accusations-leveled-agency-new-york-times/.

36 Ofcom is the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries,

37 J. Halliday, “Woolwich Attack Video: TV Broadcast Prompts 800 Complaints,” Guardian, 23 May 2013,

38 A. Feinstein, B. Audet, and E. Waknine, “Witnessing Images of Extreme Violence: A Psychological Study of Journalists in the Newsroom,” Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, forthcoming 2014.

39 It is worth noting that all but one of our interviewees was from a news organization not included in our quantitative analysis, and the answers given by Take Kusaba of NHK mirrored the use of UGC we encountered during our research.

40 Research carried out by City University in the United Kingdom involved interviewing journalists about the type of technological support they would like to help them gather news using social networks. Discovery and verification technology was rated highly. See S. Schifferes, et al., “Identifying and Verifying News Through Social Media: Developing a User-centred Tool for Professional Journalists,” Digital Journalism, 2014.

41 A. Feinstein, et al., 2014.

42 This article explains the main aspects of the transition to digital, focusing on online video. P. Grabowicz, “The Transition to Digital Journalism,” Berkeley School of Journalism, 30 Mar. 2014,

43 An introduction to the main concerns of the group are detailed in this article: “Social Newsgathering: Charting an Ethical Course,” Online News Association, 6 Mar. 2014, http://