Digital Backyards Forum “User generated content”: Workshop

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  • “User generated content”: Workshop Oct.19th

    Digital networks are fragmented, never really open, never really closed and consist of loose ties which have a deeply transitory nature. How do community managers deal with such challenges? What are new tools that help to interact with the users and who exactly is the user? The workshop “Trends in user generated content” discussed these questions in detail and came up with even more questions.

    Different Projects, different perspectives

    Zeit OnlineDomenika Ahlrichs

    – how does ZEIT ONLINE interact with its users?
    – one example: When our science editor travelled Japan to report on the changes after the Fukushima catastrophe, he asked users for their questions, their concerns, their expectations
    – another example: when our economics editor realized that there was one angry user constantly commenting on articles about the Euro crisis in harsh words, he decided to visit this man at home and learn about his frustration
    – two examples of how ZEIT ONLINE understands itself as an interactive, collaborative platform:
    – thousands of (not all but mostly helpful) user comments on each week, countless very active fans and followers on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are the feedback we need, use and cherish
    – funny enough we still call articles written by users “Leserartikel” (readers’ articles) although this passive way of consuming media imminent in the word “reader” for us and many of our competitors is a thing of the past. What would YOU prefer?


    – How is the interaction with the users different from print? Is it only a technological difference?
    – Are the journalists stressed by the interaction?
    – Are males/females treated differently by the commentators? -> Domenika thinks that has a huge community team which looks after that, discussion about the treatment of the subscribers
    – biggest problem: fight between subcribers

    Mediapart.frGeraldine Delacroix

    – Mediapart (Online Newspaper): paid content, 60.000 subcribers, content by users is free to read, 27 journalists
    – Geraldine manages “The Club”, where people interact, write their own blogs etc.
    – readers are called “subcribers”, 2.500 subscribers write their own blog, the content is also put on the homepage, moderated by Geraldine and a colleague
    – it is also possible to start a collective blog
    – the website is also a social network, you can have a profile and send personal messages, journalists discuss with the subscribers
    – subscribers can decide whether they want to use their real name or not
    – journalists need to be investigative journalists in the first place, but they have to be open to interact with the community
    – problem: web and TV are not the same format!

    ARTE OnlineVy Doan

    – the website is changing its interaction with users: new platform Generation Solidarität -> take the web content and put it on TV
    – another example: ARTE Creative -> artists and creatives can put their work online, it’s a network and has also editorial function
    – TV series: Radical Drift, two men from Strasbourg travel Asia and do art performances in different places, the users can tell them where to go next
    – Social TV: connect your TV screen to the web, there you can you reed live-tweets etc.
    – transmedia projects: one project is produced for different media platforms
    – for example: TV show: About Blank – a show with blank spaces where users can put their own content

    Kristin Trethewey

    – Sourcefabric provides open source CMS, radio automation and book production software for media
    – Airtime: Open source radio automation, scheduling and playout software
    – Newscoop: Open content management system to build better online news publications
    – Superdesk: Open source software to manage a newsroom’s content ingest, process and output
    – funding: private funders, application for fundings
    – who uses this?
    West Africa Democracy Radio: They use Airtime und Newscoop software
    Yemen Times: they use Newsdesk
    – the journalists and producers who use the software give feedback to the developers and tell them what they need

    Questions that came up during discussion

    – technical difficulties with dealing with user generated content: How to overcome this?
    – How to value user generated content? What is the value for the community?
    – Are we still talking about user generated content or do we want to collaborate with our audience?
    – How can we interact on a good level?
    – Do we need a new type of journalist?


    – Technological problems: bringing together different formats (for example web and TV)
    – no good aggregator for all the different (social media) streams

    Best practice cases

    – The tool Storify – works well if you are a web native
    – Do we have to meet face to face? example Mediapart: here bloggers are invited into the newsroom to take part in interviews
    – we need to go back to storytelling: user generated content is messy, we need to tell the story that’s behind it

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