Make Everyone a Reporter: The rise of user-generated media content

By Barrett Coakley

Media companies are well aware how mobile computing has changed the end user experience. Consumers are now comfortable capturing and sending all types of content on their mobile devices, and have even become vital news sources for on-the-ground reporting — from the Arab Spring to Ferguson, Missouri.

In the past, the only way to capture breaking news on location was to send out a news truck to report from the scene. Today, user-generated content captured by people already at the scene has become a staple on social media sites and mainstream news programs. In fact, user-generated, real time content has become so pervasive that various companies have started services to enable people to share their content and license them to clients such as media organizations, charities, and stock image buyers.

The Tow Center of Digital Journalism recently released a study that provides insights about the use of user-generated content (UGC) among broadcast news channels. The study, Amateur Footage: A Global Study of User-Generated Content in TV and Online News Output, focused on output from eight channels: Al Jazeera Arabic, Al Jazeera English, BBC World, CNN International, euronews, France 24, NHK World and TeleSUR. In total, the researchers analyzed 1,100 hours of TV output and 2,254 web pages, all generated by amateurs on the ground.

But it’s not just amateurs who are using their mobile devices. Employees in the field can easily capture and send material without the need for a camera crew and equipment. The camera resolution and built in editing tools on mobile devices allow professionals to capture, edit, and send content that can be used on air with little rework required. The footage from mobile devices can look more realistic to viewers and can help capture events in a less conspicuous manner, increasing personalization and authenticity. As a result, mobile capture has become a vital part of a media company’s workflow to help deliver timely, unique material over multiple digital outlets.

As more and more content is captured through mobile devices, media companies need a simple mobile app that easily integrates into their overall workflow. Signiant recently released a free mobile app for Media Shuttle to help media firms benefit from the trend of mobile media capture. To see how we have taken the ease of use you have come to expect from Media Shuttle and extended it to mobile, go here to download and use the app, or search for Media Shuttle Mobile in your app directory.

Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

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