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Obtaining news materials from citizen journalists.

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Citizen journalists can be a source of information for the news industry, now what we have to note is how to collect news materials from them (they may be just people who have smartphones and happen to be at the spot when there is breaking news).

I reckon the best way to do this is via social media, Twitter in particular.

I have never been a big fan of Twitter but from what I have seen, it indeed has great features which are great for professional journalists.

When it is used between friends and as a PR tool for celebrities, it seems to me that it is nothing but another platform for gossiping; but for journalists, its features allow them to share and gather information quickly.

Twitter, as you all know, only allows 140 characters short postings which allow people to just scan through all the postings of people they follow.

In a way, it is like it is built for journalism purpose- journalists can key in a short lead paragraph and attach a link which followers can click on and read in detail whenever they feel interested in something; other than that, journalists can scan through local news to keep themselves updated and also the tweet of their followers to find out if there are anything of news value.

This would help journalists a lot as they can gather story ideas here.

Meanwhile, the instantaneity of Twitter has made it a useful tool to do interviews with people.

In addition, there are Twitter searching engine Twitterfall which makes possible for users to type in key words and search for relevant tweet on specific topics.

According to a study done by RJMetrics Inc. published on Computerworld,  till December 2009, there are 75million Twitter users but only 17% of them tweeted in the month.

This 17% users are still a large number of people, together with all the twitter accounts of various news agencies, has made Twitterfall such a useful researching tool for journalists who are working on stories.

When using Twitterfall, not only would you get a list of searching results, you get a list of searching results that keeps being updated frequently.

When following a story, it is not a surprised to see Twitterfall being put on the big screen in a newsroom- according to a pic from Telegraph.co.uk editor Marcus Warren, Telegraph has done it before.

While information can be researched through Twitterfall, pictures of news value can be found via Twitpic which people use to share pictures on Twitter; video can also be found through Twitvid which people use to share videos on Twitter.

But in my opinion, the news agencies should remember to accredit the information sources, get permission from people when using their video footages or pictures.

Although Twitter is a good way for journalists to actively collect news materials from people, the best way to passively collect it is still e-mail.

So many information can be included in a 10MB e-mail: pictures, video footage and story ideas- all at once in a e-mail written without a limitation of 140 characters.

It is also good for the news agencies in a way that they can get the information sources’ contact details by reminding them to fill in a form online before sending a e-mail (this is what BBC’s User Generated Content Department does), which makes it easier to verify information and accredit sources.

What is more, people can be reminded the right they have for the information they have submitted.

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Written by klatalj301

October 6, 2010 at 12:06 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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