Reporting the Syria conflict on television (2011-2014): how the use of user generated content (UGC) has shaped BBC World News TV coverage and affected journalistic practices

Johnston, L. (2016). Reporting the Syria conflict on television (2011-2014): how the use of user generated content (UGC) has shaped BBC World News TV coverage and affected journalistic practices. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)

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Abstract

This thesis examines the ways in which user-generated content (UGC) has been used by BBC journalists to cover the conflict in Syria, and how journalistic working practices have altered. The data collection methods included a content analysis of news reports about Syria which aired on BBC World News TV from 2011 to 2014, staff interviews and newsroom observations. Syria has been a challenging story to report as often news organisations have had very little, if any, presence in the country, forcing journalists to rely on UGC produced inside the country to depict events. Results show the task of sourcing UGC and putting it through a verification process involved a steep learning curve for many BBC journalists during the Arab uprisings and remains a complex process. Journalists and producers had to adapt to new ways of locating content, particularly on digital platforms, developing new skills to enable them to carry out ‘social media newsgathering’. In doing so they harnessed expertise from across the BBC, including BBC Arabic and BBC Monitoring. These changes have happened as the BBC has created more digital news products. However, there were systematic failings in the ways that BBC News passed on information about the UGC used in its news reports to its audiences, particularly verification warnings and the crediting of content. While journalists have become more social media and technology savvy, UGC is still not fully understood by BBC newsrooms, though it is regularly used to cover breaking stories and news. This thesis contributes to a body of literature examining how UGC is used by news outlets and also revisits established theories to consider the extent to which journalists continue to be information gatekeepers or ‘gatewatchers’ when audiences have access to news on numerous social, mobile and digital platforms.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: School of Arts > Department of Journalism
URI: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/18077

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