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UGC creators and use of their content by mainstream media

Cooper, G. (2017). UGC creators and use of their content by mainstream media. In: Tong, J. & Lo, S-H. (Eds.), Digital Technology and Journalism. (pp. 71-90). Cham: Palgrave Macmillan. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-55026-8_4


Images and words describing crisis events are now often created not by journalists but ordinary citizens—so-called “accidental journalists” (Allan in Citizen witnessing: Revisioning journalism in times of crisis. Polity‚ Cambridge‚ pp. 1–26‚ 2013). Many researchers have seen this as a democratisation of communication and shift in the journalistic field (Bourdieu in On television and journalism. Pluto‚ London‚ 1998; Benson and Neveu in Bourdieu and the journalistic field. Polity‚ Cambridge, 2005; Russell in Critical Studies in Media Communication 24:285–302‚ 2007). Much research has (rightly) centred on how the use of this material affects journalists (Bruns in The active audience: Transforming journalism from gatekeeping to gatewatching, 2008; Wardle and Williams in Understanding its impact on contributors, non-contributors and BBC news‚ 2008; Cooper in Anyone here survived a wave, speak English and got a mobile? Aid agencies, the media and reporting disasters since the tsunami, Nuffield College‚ Oxford, 2007; From their own correspondent? New media and the changes in disaster coverage: Lessons to be learned, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism‚ Oxford‚ 2011) or the reactions of the audience (Wahl-Jorgensen et al. in Northern Lights: Film & Media Studies Yearbook 8:177–194‚ 2010). In contrast, this chapter draws on 24 semistructured qualitative interviews with those caught up in the Great East Japan earthquake (March 2011) or the Moore tornado in Oklahoma (May 2013) and whose images/words were used by two major UK media players, the BBC and The Guardian in their liveblogs, often without the knowledge of the content’s creators. These users were questioned about the consequences of their material being used with the aim of answering the following questions:

How are voices of citizens in crises being mediated and mediatised?

How did such citizens alter their content if they were aware of mainstream media’s interest?

How do the views of these citizens inform our understanding of acts of journalism by nonjournalists and the ethical approaches journalists should take when using such content

Publication Type: Book Section
Additional Information: Cooper, G. (2017) UGC creators and use of their content by mainstream media. In: J. Tong & S-H. Lo (Eds.), Digital Technology and Journalism. (pp. 71-90). Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, reproduced with permission of Palgrave Macmillan. This extract is taken from the author's original manuscript and has not been edited. The definitive, published, version of record is available here:
Departments: School of Communication & Creativity > Journalism
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