The Guardian’s Kate Bulkley recently wrote a piece on the proliferation of citizen journalism, whether it can be trusted, how it might augment traditional documentary, and how it has unique marketing value on social networks. An excerpt:
But current affairs is clearly benefiting from citizen journalism and video testimony from ordinary citizens. “Social networks are opening up whole new vistas for documentary filmmakers,” enthuses Chris Shaw, editorial director ITN Productions. “You can make the most amazing films using content from social networks, sometimes with the permission and sometimes without the permission of the people who shot them.”
Shaw says that ITN’s documentary, Syria’s Torture Machine, for Channel 4, drew on about 30,000 clips that have been uploaded on various social network sites, including “trophy videos” from Syrian military torturers and footage from local families and citizens caught up in demonstrations. “I think there is a sense that objective journalism is not the same as trawling social networks for citizen reportage and imagery, but there are two problems with that view,” says Shaw. “First there are places like Syria where journalists haven’t been able to go and second there is an extraordinary resource on social networks for current affairs, even though we have to take extraordinary caution to verify what we use.”
In Shaw’s view, the way forward is to mix “citizen video” with professionally shot footage to come up with a more rounded picture. “It’s a whole new force of amazing, raw and close-to-the action footage and there is a lot more of it,” says Shaw. “In the old days we would find one image of someone’s feet being beaten with a cable, but now we get 20 of them. Although it is disturbing, we can begin to see patterns and to build a better picture of the scale of abuse – and that has got to be a good thing for the film.”
FJP: Another byproduct of citizen journalism is the proliferation of tools and tutorials to help people get better equipped with the craft. We posted about one a few months ago.
Bonus: For further reading, and a class on the matter, see this screencast from a course Michael taught at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. He writes:
Are citizen journalists more agile than their professional counterparts, often breaking news before the big boys have had time to react?
The answer is quantitative and anecdotal rather than qualitative, and looks in part on how people use social tools such as Twitter and Facebook to report on the world around them. (Keep reading)
U.S. Patent No. 8,171,128 — “Communicating a newsfeed of media content based on a member’s interactions in a social network environment” – Filed on August 11, 2006, and granted on May 1, 2012.
Facebook patents the News Feed, via ZDNet.
The question then becomes: will they use the patent offensively or defensively against other social networks that display news feeds in much the same way (eg., Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, etc.).
Reading the patent more closely, you’ll see Facebook discusses how to let users see certain status updates, pictures, links to videos, and even actions friends take. The social networking giant describes keeping a profile of each person on the social network in a database, identifying relationships between said users, generating “stories” based on the connections, and then creating a News Feed for each user.
Last but certainly not least, Facebook watches what actions the viewer takes in response to the stories (such as Liking, Sharing, or commenting), and then uses that information to serve more stories. It’s also noted that content can come from outside the social network and that users can change preference settings to filter in or out what stories they see.
Paedophilia, necrophilia, beheadings, suicides, etc. I left [because] I value my sanity.
A Facebook moderator explaining why he quit his job monitoring content on the social network. Via The Daily Telegraph, The dark side of Facebook.
Background: Facebook outsources much of its content moderation around the world. There are privacy concerns, of course, but here’s how it generally works:
Last month, 21-year-old Amine Derkaoui gave an interview to Gawker, an American media outlet. Derkaoui had spent three weeks working in Morocco for oDesk, one of the outsourcing companies used by Facebook. His job, for which he claimed he was paid around $1 an hour, involved moderating photos and posts flagged as unsuitable by other users.
“It must be the worst salary paid by Facebook,” he told The Daily Telegraph this week. “And the job itself was very upsetting – no one likes to see a human cut into pieces every day.”
Derkaoui is not exaggerating. An articulate man, he described images of animal abuse, butchered bodies and videos of fights. Other moderators, mainly young, well-educated people working in Asia, Africa and Central America, have similar stories…
…Of course, not all of the unsuitable material on the site is so graphic. Facebook operates a fascinatingly strict set of guidelines determining what should be deleted. Pictures of naked private parts, drugs (apart from marijuana) and sexual activity (apart from foreplay) are all banned. Male nipples are OK, but naked breastfeeding is not. Photographs of bodily fluids (except semen) are allowed, but not if a human being is also shown. Photoshopped images are fine, but not if they show someone in a negative light.
Once something is reported by a user, the moderator sitting at his computer in Morocco or Mexico has three options: delete it; ignore it; or escalate it, which refers it back to a Facebook employee in California (who will, if necessary, report it to the authorities).
My reloaded résumé quotes a quixotic statistic—the number of my original and curated posts. I mention the number of times I have reblogged others, and others, have reblogged me.
No, I am quipping. But, stick around.
As nearly all of us know, today, the profession of news reporting is in a state of creative destruction.
This is the Golden Age of Social Networks. It is the heyday of Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Google+, among countless other networks.
To borrow a phrase from David Brooks’ op-ed in The New York Times, “The Saga of Sister Kiki, “online, eyeballs and page-views are king.”
But, regardless, a byline is what it is—a prestige. And the more venerable a publication it appears in, the greater its journalistic stock value.
When reputable news organizations, everyone from The Economist to The New Yorker to the NPR have eagerly taken up social blogging, it is not terribly irrelevant to ask if getting reblogged on Tumblr, by a media heavyweight, is the digital equivalent of a byline in its print or online version.
A narcissistic life-form, who believes in selfless self-promotion, may well put that on her or his résumé, stating that her or his post was reblogged by The Washington Post.