Pen and paper…

Thoughts, ideas, questions, experiences

Conversational journalism and UGC March 2, 2010

Filed under: Online journalism — Kellie Maddox @ 12:32 pm
Tags: , ,

This week’s Online Journalism session was focused on User Generated Content and how to start and maintain conversations with people. We had a guest speaker, Karl Schneider – Head of editorial development at RBI, a UK B2B publishing company – who discussed a number of interesting points about the changing nature of journalism and UGC in B2B publishing.

Several issues raised by Karl stuck in my head:

  1. The concept of ‘conversational’ journalism – basically he was saying that journalists need to move away from producing and distributing content to engaging in conversations with users and working off the back of their ideas/thoughts to create content that is useful and interesting to that ‘community’ around a subject. By listening and talking to users,  you will be able to respond and provide information the information they are seeking.
  2. The benefits of UGC – aside from the obvious financial benefits of UGC (lots of content at little cost), Karl emphasised how important ‘community’ engagement around a website is in the production of UGC. He also pointed out that there was no set model of UGC that would work for users across the board – depending on the publication/topic, different groups respond differently when engaging with media products. He said, in order to understand users’ motivation to produce content, we should identify common threads e.g. why do users respond to that? In what way do they respond?
  3. Commercial business models – making ‘online’ content pay. Karl reiterated that this is still something that people in the industry are trying to work out and experiment with. He seemed confident that the future of online content will become a strong commercial platform and that a lot of the work will be in persuading advertisers that online is the way forward. He talked briefly about the idea of paid content and seemed to believe that it will be something that will catch on – especially in B2B publishing where users are willing to pay for important business and service information.

Karl’s top tips:

  • ‘Listen to what people are saying and respond’
  • ‘Look to where users are generating content elsewhere (e.g. Flickr, YouTube) and start a conversation there’
  • ‘Think about what interactions work well face-to-face – is there a way to put that into the online environment?’

What I learnt from the session:

  • To branch out – go to where the conversation is happening, join in and then they might follow you back to where you’re producing content
  • The importance of joining in with UGC (e.g. forums, discussion boards) and not just throwing in the towel once your article is published – keep the conversation going, it might lead onto new stories
  • Why do users respond and what do they respond best to? The types of UGC that work for certain groups/communities and making the most of engaging with your audience

(Worth a look: the BBC guidelines on UGC)

Anyone have any other thoughts on UGC and how audiences respond to articles on the web? What have you found users respond to the best – forums, picture galleries, polls, maps? Anyone see any negatives of UGC?

Advertisements
 

3 Responses to “Conversational journalism and UGC”

  1. Soilman Says:

    I work for a company publishing one of the biggest UGC-led sites in the UK. Also lots of other sites with a lot of UGC.

    I strongly challenge this: “Lots of content at little cost”.

    One thing you learn pretty fast in UGC is that it’s not as cheap as you thought it would be. Lively forums come with lively legals… which cost money to pre-empt and/or resolve. It’s also highly debatable whether ‘lots’ of UGC content – however cheap – is worth serving. There aren’t too many sites that manage to host UGC interesting enough to read.

    Schneider, as usual, has sensible points to make. But don’t go thinking UGC will ‘save’ journalism. It won’t.

    • Thanks for your comments – I’m under no illusion that UGC will ‘save journalism’, I was just interested in seeing how the idea is moving forward with the changing nature of online journalism. The point about legal issues was also raised during the talk and I think its really important to keep in mind.

      There aren’t too many sites that manage to host UGC interesting enough to read.

      This is an interesting point you raise, I’d be interested to see if that’s the case. Maybe it might challenge the idea that UGC would appeal to users because its made by them, on topics that interest them?

      Thanks for your thoughts

  2. […] Conversational journalism and UGC « Pen and paper… Kevin: Karl Schneider, the head of editorial development at B2B publisher RBI, has some excellent comments to make about "conversational journalism" and UGC. In terms of UGC, there is no one-size-fits-all strategy. In terms of "conversational journalism", he said that "that journalists need to move away from producing and distributing content to engaging in conversations with users and working off the back of their ideas/thoughts to create content that is useful and interesting to that ’community’ around a subject". Excellent points. (tags: UGC community journalism engagement) […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s