The power of professional and user-generated content in journalism

This weeks question: Explore and write about the relationship between commercial and user-generated content in the journalism industry.

“The web has changed the world and revolutionised how information is stored, published, searched and consumed” (Alejandro, 2010).”


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The history of consumer involvement in news production wasn’t a recent development in today’s society. It has been part of the journalism practice for years and is a continuing tradition in the industry today (Bradshaw, 2010). The different forms of consumer involvement and the way it is produced and shared is constantly growing and changing due to advancements in digital media (Alejandro, 2010).

Consumer’s involvement within the journalism industry began with the simple basics following the traditional theories and guidelines for writing news. A journalist would source talent, interview them and use their quotes as part of the news story and evidence (Henshall, 2008). As time went on, audience involvement in news production became more common and is still produced similarly today with letters to the editor, community text in pages, talk back radio and television phone-ins (Bradshaw, 2010). This kind of consumer involvement is the basic concept of citizen journalism where the public plays an active roll in the process of making news (Wofford, 2012).

Over time in addition to citizen journalism, a wider trend called user-generated content (UGC) has since been creating new challenges and opportunities for mainstream media to work with. UGC is defined as any type of content such as written discussions, comments, video, images and blogs that are generated by consumers online publicly available for other consumers to see and respond to (Dijck, 2009). Although consumers have always contributed to newspaper content as discussed before, the growth of digital media and technologies in online platforms have enhanced their participation in the production of news.

Since Web 2.0 evolved, many websites and in this case specifically news sites have been developed to include UGC such as the British Broadcasting Company (BBC), which has the biggest dedicated UGC unit within the news industry. Other sites have been designed specifically for all content to be created by users, like News Corporations UGC site ‘Storyful’ (Cokley, 2014).

UGC has become an integral part of many news organisations like this, in the form of visuals, surveys, polls, blogs, reviews, social media posts and many other examples (Flew, 2014).

I believe UGC is mostly used in conjunction with the commercial journalism industry rather then separately. Newsrooms encourage their audience to interact (submit, discuss, share, like, comment, tweet, hashtag, repost) directly via social media or on their websites about what is trending in the newsroom on that day (Brost, 2013). In journalism this is a term called “social newsgathering”. They use this UGC to support reports, add emotion, personalise, gain interest and furthermore create additional interaction with the audience.

There was limited academic research and studies as to weather UGC increases readership, however, it was found through other fairly reliable sources that some organisations independently reported when using UGC they benefited in some way, some receiving double the number of page views and more than 50 percent of consumers saying they trusted UGC over other media.

User Generated Content Study

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In conclusion, I have written this blog based off my knowledge of journalism and how the industry uses UGC, therefore, I am unable to reference some of this post. A downside to this convergence is that it probably is possible people will lose their jobs such as company paparazzi. It is also possible that the amount of content out there being posted online and to news websites will get harder and harder to monitor. However, with the ongoing fast growth of digital media, more innovations will be invented to keep up with the trends and time will move forward. This trend of using UGC within the journalism industry is not a temporary strategy; it is here to stay.


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Alejandro, J. (2010). Journalism in the age of social media (1st ed.). University of Oxford. Retrieved from

Bradshaw, P. (2010). What is User Generated Content?. Online Journalism Blog. Retrieved 24 February 2015, from

Brost, L. F. (2013). Editors have mixed feelings on user-generated content. Newspaper Research Journal, 34(3), 101-115. Retrieved from

Cokley, J. (2014). User-generated content: media can learn from the ‘Wild West’The Conversation. Retrieved 23 February 2015, from

Dijck, v., J. (2009). Users like you? theorizing agency in user-generated content. Media, 31(1), 41-58. doi:10.1177/0163443708098245

Flew, T. (2014). New Media: An Introduction (4th Ed.). Melbourne: Oxford University Press

Henshall, D (2008). The News Manual. A Training Resource For Journalists. Available online:

Kaufhold, K. (2010). THINKING ABOUT CITIZEN JOURNALISM: The philosophical and practical challenges of user-generated content for community newspapers. Journalism Practice, 4(2), 163-179. doi:10.1080/14616700903156919

Storyful,. (2014). Storyful powers great storytelling. Retrieved from

Wofford, J. (2012). User-generated content. New Media & Society, 14(7), 1236-1239.


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