Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
The Wall Street Journal website — paywalled from the very beginning — turns 20 years old today
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.
The Wall Street Journal website — paywalled from the very beginning — turns 20 years old today
“From the very beginning it was very clear we needed to cover all the same concerns and sensibilities of the print Journal even though we were online and even though we were a young staff.”
Newsonomics: In the platform wars, how well are you armed?
“Think about platforms as fishing places where you can find large, engaged audiences and build a relationship with them by providing content. Then offer these users some other services off-platform.”
Wired’s making the long and slow switch to HTTPS and it wants to help other news sites do the same
With its HTTPS implementation, Wired’s starting with its security vertical and for users who pay for the ad-free version of the site.
What to read next
0
tweets
What happens to a great open source project when its creators are no longer using the tool themselves?
PANDA, the four-year-old Knight News Challenge-winning newsroom application for storing and analyzing large data sets, still has a respectable community of users, but could now use a new longterm caretaker.
0“People want to see themselves”: Postloudness aims to build a podcast network for diverse voices
“We have so many friends in this city doing great things, but there hasn’t been the right platform for them to break through.”
0No garbage fires here: Medium advances its quest to gentrify the world of Internet publishing
The search for a clean, well-lighted place on the Internet.
These stories are our most popular on Twitter over the past 30 days.
See all our most recent pieces ➚
Fuego is our heat-seeking Twitter bot, tracking the links the future-of-journalism crowd is talking about most on Twitter.
Here are a few of the top links Fuego’s currently watching.   Get the full Fuego ➚
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 ➚
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Tucson Citizen
Reddit
The Awl
Financial Times
Examiner.com
Semana
Mother Jones
Hearst
Ann Arbor News
West Seattle Blog
WyoFile