Amateur Footage: A Global Study of User-Generated Content

How to Label UGC

There is no consistency across the industry about how to label UGC. The phrase amateur video appears to be losing favor. “Now we don’t use [the label] ‘amateur video’ because, frankly, a lot of it isn’t amateur and I just don’t think that it encourages people. If people have captured the most compelling shots of a story and it’s running everywhere, I don’t think we should call them amateur.” Most people recognize that simply writing “Source: YouTube” or “Source: Twitter” is inappropriate as well, arguing that these are not the sources, they are simply platforms. However, there is a great deal of disagreement about whether a news organization should use the name of the platform as part of the credit. The AP does not reference the platform, arguing it is simply the

delivery mechanism and will only reference the platform if it believes it is relevant; for example, if the content has been live-streamed via a service like Bambuser or UStream. In this case, the AP would argue that the technology of the platform is part of how the UGC was created. CNN International dislikes referencing the platform, reasoning that the same content can appear on multiple platforms, so it cannot reference just one. BBC World does not like to reference the platform as its editorial guidelines prevent undue prominence being given to a commercial entity. Broadcasters in France are not allowed to mention Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube on air for the same reason. The fact that some interviewees talked about uploaders wanting their specific YouTube usernames used on screen hoping that it would drive clicks to their video and therefore increase the money they would receive from YouTube, shows how newsrooms can be a conduit for traffic to commercial platforms. However, many broadcasters with whom we spoke said they would mention the platform and a name, for example: Twitter/Jane Smith or Twitter. com/jsmith7564. By doing this, the broadcasters are providing a credit, but they are also signposting the fact that the content was not filmed by anyone related to the news organization.