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Audience views on user-generated content: exploring the value of news from the bottom up

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News organizations increasingly view user-generated content (UGC) as a vital resource for audience engagement and empowerment. Researchers have investigated the production practices and journalistic cultures surrounding UGC, but have paid less attention to the audiences who produce and consume the content. This article seeks to fill this gap in knowledge, drawing on a series of focus groups to understand why audiences value particular forms of UGC and renounce others. Further, by comparing focus group findings to data from in-depth interviews with BBC producers and journalists, it explores how audience perceptions differ from those of producers. In particular, the article focuses on why and how audiences value news-based UGC (in the form of images, footages and eyewitness accounts), which is perceived as authentic, immediate and real. This is contrasted with a dislike for audience comment, or opinion-based contributions, seen as ill-informed, repetitive and extremist. By contrast, BBC producers and journalists are more concerned with UGC as a tool to supplement traditional news-gathering practices.

Keywords: BBC; UGC; audience; authencity; immediacy; news production

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Cardiff University, UK.

Publication date: October 1, 2010

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  • Northern Lights: Film and Media Studies Yearbook was first published in 2002 and places particular emphasis on film, television and new media. The yearbook, although carrying a theme each issue, welcomes a broad range of articles along with shorter review pieces.
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