HOME
          
LATEST STORY
Newsonomics: The Financial Times triples its profits and swaps champagne flutes for martini glasses
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
July 10, 2012, 12:47 p.m.

From Nieman Reports: A look inside the BBC’s verification hub

The golden rule of verification: Get the person responsible for posting the material in question on the phone.

Editor’s Note: Our colleagues upstairs at Nieman Reports are out with their Summer 2012 issue, “Truth in the Age of Social Media,” which focuses on issues like verification, crowdsourcing, and citizen journalism. Over the next few days, we’ll give you a glimpse at some of their stories — but make sure to read the issue in full. In this piece, you’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at the BBC’s User-Generated Content (UGC) Hub.

A group of soldiers speaking Arabic shovel sand into a pit while a disembodied voice wails. After a few seconds it becomes apparent that the desperate voice is coming from a man buried in the trench; the head alone is visible.

The soldiers — a number dressed, incongruously, in sneakers — appear to reply with gloating taunts. But they are mainly concentrating on the job at hand: covering the victim’s head in earth. They do their grisly job well; in less than a minute his head is completely buried. The video then ends abruptly — the rest is silence.

One rain-swept morning in April, Trushar Barot, assistant editor at the BBC’s User-Generated Content (UGC) Hub in London’s rather bleakly monolithic BBC Television Centre, was studying the anonymously posted footage on YouTube. His Twitter feed was buzzing with news of the clip. Jon Williams, the BBC’s world news editor, had also raised it at the 9 o’clock news meeting. What everyone wanted to know, on Twitter and in the newsroom, was this: Was the video real or fake? That is the kind of question the Hub is there to investigate.

Started in 2005 to sift through unsolicited contributions previously perused by many different teams, the Hub has grown to a complement of 20 staffers. Initially, the team focused heavily on images, footage and eyewitness accounts e-mailed to the BBC, but in the past few years people have become much more prone to distribute material themselves through Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook. As a result, the number of contributions proffered to the BBC has declined to about 3,000 a day, and the Hub’s task has moved toward semi-conventional newsgathering with a Web 2.0 twist. Staffers now use search terms, see what’s trending on Twitter, and look at the images and footage trusted contacts are discussing on their Twitter streams.

Keep reading at Nieman Reports »

POSTED     July 10, 2012, 12:47 p.m.
SHARE THIS STORY
   
Show comments  
Show tags
 
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
Newsonomics: The Financial Times triples its profits and swaps champagne flutes for martini glasses
The FT is a leader in crossing over from print — digital subscribers now make up 70 percent of its paying audience, a number that keeps growing.
A farewell to #content: Optimism, worries, and a belief in great work
A few thoughts on the state of media (and meta-media) from our departing staff writer.
On convening a community: An excerpt from Jake Batsell’s new book on engaged journalism
“An engaged journalist’s role in the 21st century is not only to inform but to bring readers directly into the conversation.”
What to read next
789
tweets
Snapchat’s new Discover feature could be a significant moment in the evolution of mobile news
By putting mobile-native news adjacent to messages from friends, Snapchat could be helping create part of the low-friction news experience many want and need.
750Snapchat stories: Here’s how 6 news orgs are thinking about the chat app
From live events to behind-the-scenes tours, The Huffington Post, Fusion, Mashable, NPR, Philly.com, and The Verge tell us how they’re approaching Snapchat.
714Here’s how the BBC, disrupted by technology and new habits, is thinking about its future
The British broadcaster released a new report looking at the future of news as it looks toward its royal charter renewal in 2017.
These stories are our most popular on Twitter over the past 30 days.
See all our most recent pieces ➚
Encyclo is our encyclopedia of the future of news, chronicling the key players in journalism’s evolution.
Here are a few of the entries you’ll find in Encyclo.   Get the full Encyclo ➚
PBS
Franklin Center
Craigslist
Center for Investigative Reporting
The Daily Beast
The Christian Science Monitor
Current TV
The Dish
The Fiscal Times
Talking Points Memo
National Review
Semana